Once again, for perhaps the third time in my life it has happened. My garage door spring let loose. Like previous times, I was somewhere in the house (in this instance in my office) when I heard a terrible clatter. This time is sounded like someone took a metal ladder and threw it down on the floor with enough force to slide clear across the room. The previous times I have been alone at the time and so inspected for the noise immediately but this time both of my daughters were in the house so I just assumed it was something they dropped and promptly forgot about it.
Later that day I went to go get some wood for a project I'm working on and the garage door would only open about two inches and then stop. Repeated pressing of the button didn't get it to work. So I checked the sensors and saw they looked fine and then based off past experience, glanced up at the springs and immediately saw that one spring was now in two pieces. It was time for new garage springs.
Unfortunately, the contractor that roughed in our addition two years ago and tried to play shenanigans with the final bill, also bought out two of the three garage door companies in town, including the one that installed our garage door. So I was only left with one option to call and it would be five days before they could get there. Meanwhile, my vehicle was stuck inside the garage.
Our garage door is a double wide garage door and well insulated so it is extremely heavy. The spring that broke was on the side that our minivan is parked and with the use of a parking laser, I park it so there is literally less than six inches between the back of it and the garage door to maximize the room in front of the van to walk by when parked. I'm telling you this because in order to get my door open with a broken spring on one side, I have to be able to access that one side to be able to lift and balance out the pressure the other, non broken spring was providing. I'm not less than six inches thick.
What came next was a half hour test of will. I settled on a floor jack because my car jack was in the back of the minivan and I couldn't open the door until the garage door was open. A real catch 22 situation. With the floor jack, I was able to crawl under the back bumper of the car and jack up that side of the door about six inches. Then with a long 2x4 to use as a lever (give me a big enough lever and I can move the world), and a chunk of firewood, I was able to go around to the outside and pry the door up to firewood height. Then, I was able to muscle the door the rest of the way up, just barely. Once the first couple sections curve in, it becomes a much easier task but by then, the door bottom edge is almost waist high.
Leaving the door open, I drove and got my wood and put it back inside the garage and reversing the process omitting the floor jack step, got the door lowered back down in place with the van parked on the outside of the garage. Fortunately the garage door company finished a job early a day later and a half hour later I had new springs and a working garage door.
I did ask if it was unusual for spring to fail after only 3 or 4 years, thinking perhaps I need bigger springs but was told that most garage door springs only have a life of 10,000 cycles. Just the average Joe going to work in the morning and coming home in the evening would put nearly 1500 cycles on per year. With two kids in schools and various other extra curricular activities, I'm sure we more than double that and possibly triple that during several months of the year. I could leave the doors open but I am loath to let field mice gain any entrance to our home if only the garage and so I will probably be on the hook for some more springs in another 3 or 4 years. Hopefully next time it happens when the cars are parked outside or at least on the opposite side of the garage as the failed spring.