Of all the components of a trampoline, the springs are arguably the most important. They provide the tension and elasticity necessary for bouncing and bounding on the jumping mat. So what happens when a spring gets worn out or breaks after years of use? Or if one somehow gets lost in a move? Is it still safe to jump, or can losing one little spring really make that much of a difference?
Jumping on a trampoline with a missing spring isn’t recommended. Doing so could lead to tears in the jumping mat which could result in potential injuries. All springs should be inspected prior to using a trampoline and any missing springs should be replaced immediately.
To understand why it’s not a good idea to jump on a trampoline that’s missing one or more springs (or one with damaged or worn springs), we have to look at the various ways in which losing one spring can affect the trampoline’s dynamics.
Mind the Gap!
Having a missing spring can create a potential hazard in itself by making a wider gap near the perimeter for a jumper to fall through. Having a spring cover or other type of perimeter cushion in place will reduce this risk somewhat, but not entirely – with no spring underneath it, the cushion can still collapse into the gap if someone’s foot lands in that spot.
But the main way a missing spring becomes a hazard is by putting extra strain on the trampoline’s other components.
How a Missing Spring Causes Undue Wear and Tear
Trampolines are designed to hold a tremendous amount of tension, which is evenly distributed throughout the frame, springs, and jumping mat. If one spring is missing or damaged, the distribution of tension is thrown off, which puts added stress on the trampoline’s components. Even left alone, this can damage the trampoline over time – but if people continue to jump on it, the problem will be exacerbated.
Now, let’s look at each component in turn and how it can be affected by a missing or damaged spring.
A trampoline’s mat is stretched tight as a drum in the middle of the frame, being pulled in every direction by the springs, with the tension evenly distributed. If one spring is loose (oversprung) or missing, the mat will be pulled in one direction more than others by the enormous tension.
This redistribution of tension will, first of all, cause the trampoline to have less bounce. But it will also strain the mat fibers as the weave is stretched unevenly, which will wear out the mat faster and increase the chances that it will rip. This can be especially dangerous for a jumper, as they can fall through and injure themselves.
The strain can also cause the stitching that holds the V-rings in place to loosen or tear, potentially causing springs to come loose and fly off the mat. This can injure anyone on the trampoline as well as anyone nearby.
A mat that’s not tensioned evenly will also put increased stress on the other springs, not just because they’re bearing the load of the missing spring but also because the distorted mat is pulling some tighter than others.
When this happens, the springs will be overstretched and wear out faster. This will have a cascading effect around the entire trampoline as more and more springs lose their tension and the remaining springs take on the stress in turn.
The overstressed springs may even snap or bend to the point that their hooks pop out of either the frame or the V-rings on the mat, turning them into dangerous projectiles. Even if they simply pop out and roll onto the jumping pad, someone could get hurt just by stepping on one – I cringe just thinking about it!
If the mat and springs are distributing tension unevenly, it will also pull on some areas of the frame more than others. As tough as they are, trampoline frames can become warped or damaged due to improper tensioning – especially when compounded by the weight and bounce force of a jumper.
Circular frames tend to become warped most easily since they are made from relatively light steel tubing, slowly taking on a more oval shape. Rectangular trampolines are generally made from thicker steel tubing, but can still become warped from uneven tension, with the sides bowing in or out, or the entire frame taking on a trapezoidal shape.
A warped or bent frame can shorten your trampoline’s lifespan and make it harder to replace other components, but it can also make the jumping surface uneven or cause parts of the frame to come off the ground, diminishing stability. In some cases, a warped frame may even break or collapse in the middle of a jumping session. Needless to say, all of these scenarios can result in serious injuries.
Replacing Trampoline Springs
To replace it, you can either contact the dealer or manufacturer to have them send you another spring or measure one of your springs and find a replacement online. You’ll want to remove your reference spring so you can measure it in its relaxed state, then measure it from one end to the other, including the hooks. Always try to get a spring of the same thickness and with the same hook shapes, as well. If your trampoline manual has exact specifications for springs, all the better!
As you can see, it’s not a good idea to jump on a trampoline with a missing or damaged spring. Not only does it increase the likelihood of an injury, but it also causes your trampoline and its components to wear out faster or become irreparably damaged, potentially even rendering the entire trampoline frame unusable. The tension imbalance caused by even one missing spring can have a sort of domino effect on the entire trampoline as individual components wear out and place exponentially more strain on the remaining components.
So if you’re missing a spring, it’s always best to replace it before anyone jumps on (or even climbs on) the trampoline again!