The springs on your garage door can pose a safety hazard. A door spring that breaks or shatters can send sharp shrapnel flying in any direction of the garage. Anyone inside the garage if that happens is at serious risk of injury.
Modern roll up garage door styles pose little risk in the event of the spring breakage or shattering. These kinds of springs are installed over a shaft that helps roll the door up on the open position. The shaft also acts as a retainer so that broken springs are not allowed to go ballistic.
On the other hand, the flip up style of garage doors can be a different situation. Old springs are subject to sending ballistic chunks of steel flying around your garage in the event of a failure.
These old un-safe springs can be identified quite easily, because newer springs have a core rod that is retained inside the coil of the spring. This is a built-in safety feature, because the core rod will retain any chunks of spring in the event of breakage. Look at new springs in your local hardware store. You can easily see the core retaining rod running the length of the spring.
If your old flip up garage door springs do not include any such rod, its best to replace them. But replacing springs can cost upwards of $100 depending on locality. There is a simple way to make perfectly good old springs as safe as new ones with some 1/8 inch cable.
Close the door to extend the springs to their maximum position, and measure the length. Double it and add two feet. For example, a spring, when extended 4.5 feet is doubled is 9 feet, and add 2 feet for a total of 11 feet. You will 11 feet of cable for each spring. Add one cable clamp per spring to your shopping list.
Thread the cable up the center of the spring, and back down outside the spring, forming a loop. Then use the cable clamps to clamp the ends together. Simple enough, youve just made a retainer to keep the spring safe should the spring shatter.
If your door uses two springs on each side, add another foot (12 inches) the length, and run the cable up the center of one spring and down the center of the otherthere, you will just cut the cost of this project in half, and your garage is much safer.
Your best bet is to just replace the springs with modern self-retaining ones, but this can be difficult and cost upwards of $100. Adjustments of the door might also be necessary, since the new springs will have different tension characteristics. Your garage door opener might not perform as well without adjustment too. You can always call a professional to replace springs and make adjustments, but that adds even more to the cost. But because garage door spring replacement is dangerous you shouldnt attempt this yourself.