garage door spring

How Do I Fix My Garage Door Spring?

The following instructions for replacing garage door springs are for do-it-yourself homeowners and maintenance repair men who service their smaller commercial or industrial sectional overhead doors. 

These directions are designed for torsion springs mounted to both sides of an anchor bracket above the middle of the garage door, as pictured above. Instructions for replacing a single torsion spring, replacing garage door extension springs, and replacing Wayne Dalton Torquemaster springs are linked to our DIY Instructions page above. You'll also find a link for any other garage door parts you may need while repairing your door.

How much should a garage door spring replacement cost? The national average is between $200 and $300 for a professional to come to your house and replace two springs. Online sources suggest a higher price of over $700 and that you will save $500 or more by replacing springs yourself. 

This is not true. To find the cost of replacing springs in your area, look for a reputable company through Yelp or the Better Business Bureau. If clicking a site's BBB logo doesn't take you to the BBB site, we advise purchasing your springs from a different company.

These instructions are for doors with cable drums and cables that look similar to those in the picture below. The next part beyond the end of the spring assembly is the cable drum. The drum is cast aluminium alloy 4" in diameter and 12.6" in circumference around the flat portion. 

Just beyond the cable drum is the end bearing plate. The cable unwraps off the back of the drum between the drum and the garage wall or jamb and travels down alongside the door, inside the track brackets and behind the roller stems, as shown.

If your garage spring assembly is different from this, parts of these instructions may be helpful. Still, other parts may give dangerous, inaccurate directions, which could cost you a lot of time and money should you attempt to replace the springs using standard instructions.

For example, low headroom garage doors often have cable drums outside the endplate, and the torsion springs usually wind down rather than up. They normally have left wind springs mounted on the left side of the spring anchor bracket and right wind springs mounted on the right side of the bracket. 

The first part on the shaft beyond each torsion spring is the end bearing plate. Just beyond the end bearing plate is the cable drum. On these, the cable often runs on the front of the cable drum. The bottom of the cable is attached to a bracket that wraps around the front of and outside the vertical track.

Another example is the Ideal or Clopay EZ-Set Torsion Spring System for garage doors. These are distributed at Home Depot and Menards home centres. While the manufacturer has made great strides in developing a safe design for do-it-yourselfers to install their torsion springs, replacing these parts can be very difficult.

On our EZ-Set Torsion Springs page, you will find several options for replacing these springs. We also have step by step instructions for EZ-Set Torsion Spring Replacement. In addition, one of our customers has provided excellent EZ-Set Torsion System instructions for removing the spring without wrecking the winding unit that secures the stationary cone. 

Instead of a spanner tool, you may prefer to use a pipe wrench or large channel locks to hook the end of the spring and remove it from the cones in the last step.

Pictured above is an EZ Set system with oil tempered springs. Many of the newer doors have galvanised garage door springs.

Older Crawford torsion springs are different, and the counterbalance hardware is unique. A special Crawford Torsion Spring Conversion page has been provided in conjunction with this page.

If one of your door springs just broke and you are looking for instructions to decide if you can change the spring or springs safely and correctly, this page should help. DO NOT OPEN AND CLOSE YOUR GARAGE DOOR. Wooden garage doors are heavy and will probably damage or ruin the opener. The tops of steel doors often bend when operated with broken springs.

For a scholarly introduction to torsion springs and more information on how to install them, I recommend you visit Richard Kinch's page, "How I Replaced Deadly Garage Door Torsion Springs and Lived to Tell the Tale." 

The brilliant engineer has provided a wealth of technical information on fixing torsion springs and valuable advice regarding some of the schemes unscrupulous garage door companies use to rip people off.

If you have decided to replace your springs, if you are sure your door has the correct springs, and if you are ready to buy new ones, we recommend that you measure your spring or springs following the instructions in Step 4 below. 

Measuring springs can be difficult; most individuals, even garage door technicians, sometimes have difficulty measuring torsion springs. Ordering incorrect springs waste time and money.

If you are not sure if your door has the correct springs, we recommend weighing your door using an analog scale. From my own field experience, we would estimate that at least 10% of the doors have the incorrect springs on them. In addition to this, most manufacturers spring their doors using a 20-pound window. We like to improve the garage door balance.

A third option is to determine the door size and model number.

After you gather the necessary information, you can order garage door springs.

FAQs About Garage Renovation

While it is possible for you to replace either type of garage door spring by yourself, unless you're a very experienced DIYer, torsion spring replacements are best left to the pros.

Garage doors with broken springs should not be opened. Doors in this condition can be difficult to lift because the garage door opener loses the support springs provided in lifting and lowering the door.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace Garage-Door Springs? To replace garage-door springs yourself, you will spend $30 to $100 on parts. Or, if you'd prefer professional installation, expect to pay between $200 and $300.

Depending on the door's weight, the number of springs it has, and how many springs are broken, the door may still open. What you may notice is that the door becomes crooked as it moves up or down the track. This happens because the weight is no longer equally distributed.

The average garage door spring, if correctly installed, should last about 10,000 cycles of opening and closing. If you only go in and out of your garage once a day, you should expect a broken garage door spring around 14 years after the spring is first installed.

Types Of Garage Door Springs

When preparing to replace garage springs, you must buy the right style of springs in a length and diameter that matches the old springs. Most residential garage doors have two types of springs: torsion or extension. 

Torsion springs are heavy-duty springs mounted around a metal rod (a torsion rod) that runs parallel to the door, directly above the door opening. 

Extension springs are long, lighter-weight springs that run perpendicular to the door and are mounted above the horizontal portions of the door tracks. 

As with the torsion system, these springs are tensioned by stretching out using cables and pulleys.

garage door spring 2

How Garage Door Springs Work

The typical sectional garage door operates using pulleys, cables, and springs. The cable transfers the energy of the springs to move the door's weight, while the pulleys serve to reduce the effort needed to lift the doors and control the direction of the force.

If your garage door uses extension springs, there will be two sets of pulleys and two cables on each side. 

One end of the first cable is anchored to the bottom of the door, which runs up and over a stationary pulley attached to the wall near the upper corner of the garage door, around a moveable pulley attached to the end of the spring, then back to an anchored bracket secured to the door track. 

As the door closes, the pulleys and cable stretch out the spring, creating tension that will assist in lifting the door when you next open it.

However, there's also another cable on each side of the garage door, which runs through the middle of the spring and is anchored to track brackets on each end. These are safety cables meant to keep the spring in place if it breaks under tension. 

These safety cables are a mandatory feature, and if your door springs are not outfitted with these, you must install them (or have them installed professionally) when you replace the springs.

If your garage door has torsion springs above the garage door opening, one end of each spring will be firmly anchored to a centre plate, usually attached to the garage wall above the door (small garage doors may have only one torsion spring, not two). 

A torsion bar runs through the centre of each spring, with the far ends fitted with a cable drum that holds the lift cable that runs down to secure to a bracket attached near the bottom corner of the door.

The free end of the spring is firmly anchored to the torsion bar using a winding cone. As the door closes, the extending cable causes the winding drum and torsion bar to rotate and twist the spring into a loaded "torsioned" state. 

When the door is next opened, the tension on the springs is released in a controlled fashion to assist in lifting the heavy door to an open position.

With either type of spring, hundreds or thousands of opening and closing cycles will cause the metal in the springs to lose its resiliency, gradually approaching a condition where they will need to be replaced.

How To Fix A Garage Door Spring

If your garage door isn’t operating properly, the torsion springs are likely to blame. If you’re concerned about tackling this project yourself, consider hiring out the job to a professional. 

Otherwise, replace both the left and right springs simultaneously to save yourself from having to do the job twice. Remove the old springs and measure them while they’re relaxed. 

Only then will you be able to order replacement parts and install the new springs. Replacing your garage door springs takes only a little time and effort and can save you hundreds of dollars.

Removing The Old Springs

Unplug the garage door opener and clamp the door to the track. Disconnect the garage door opener, so the door remains closed. Use locking pliers or a C-clamp to secure the door to the track to keep it from opening when you release the tension on the springs.

Loosen the set-screws while holding each spring with a winding bar. Position a sturdy ladder to the side of the springs, rather than working directly in front of them, for safety reasons. Put on eye protection and leather gloves. 

Push a winding bar into the bottom hole of the winding cone on the outside of 1 spring. Use a wrench to loosen the 2 set screws. Keep a firm grip on the bar as the spring will expand powerfully as the screws are released. Repeat on the other side.

  • If you don’t have winding bars, you can make your own. Purchase 2 pieces of 18 in (46 cm) long metal bar stock with a 1⁄2 inch (1.3 cm) diameter. To ensure the bars fit securely into the winding cone holes, file down the ends.
  • Using a screwdriver, pin punch, or plier handles to unwind the bars could result in serious injury, as these tools aren’t designed to hold the spring in place.
  • Avoid standing on a bucket or chair to reach the springs. Use a sturdy ladder to minimise the risk of injury.

Unwind each spring with the help of 2 winding bars. Position the second winding bar into a hole on the winding cone at a perpendicular angle to the first. Unwind the spring ¼ turn at a time, moving one winding bar to the next open perpendicular position after each ¼ turn. Repeat on the other spring.

Remove the nuts and bolts, then slide the springs to the end bracket. Using a wrench, remove the two nuts and bolts that secure each spring to the centre bracket. Then, slide each spring toward the end bracket.

Secure the tube and remove the springs, cables, and cable drums. Use locking pliers or a C-clamp to secure the torsion tube to the centre bracket to keep it from moving. Then, use a wrench to loosen the set-screws on both lift cable drums. Disconnect the lift cables, then slide the cable drums and springs off the torsion tube.

  • Securing the tube is an essential step that will prevent the tube from moving around and potentially injuring you, so be sure to lock the tube in place fully.

Measure the length of the relaxed spring. Unfortunately, you can’t measure the springs while they’re installed as the tension on them would provide you with the wrong measurement. Now that you’ve removed the springs use a tape measure to find the length of the entire spring, from one end to the other. You’ll need this information in inches to order replacement springs.

  • If one spring is broken, measure the other for the most accurate numbers.

Determine the inside diameter of the spring and the size of the coils. Run a tape measure across the opening at one end of the spring. Carefully measure the inside diameter of the spring so you can provide the supplier with this information. Then, use a tape measure to find the length of 10 coils on the spring. Divide the length by 10 to determine the measurement of a single coil.

  • Coil sizes range from 0.0135 to 0.625 inches (0.034 to 1.588 cm).
  • The standard inside diameter of a torsion spring is 2 inches (5.1 cm). Many torsion springs are 24 inches (61 cm) long.
  • If you suspect the coils are the wrong size, which could be contributing to the issues you’re having with the garage door, use the size and weight of the door to calculate the correct size from a spring weight manual.

Order replacement springs. Many manufacturers and distributors only provide torsion springs to professionals and won’t sell them directly to the customer. Luckily, they are available online, so search online to find replacement springs. 

Make sure they match the coil size, length, and interior diameter of the springs you removed. Also, order both a "left-hand" and a "right-hand" spring as the coils are wound in different directions.

  • It’s best to purchase double-life springs, which are stronger and last longer than standard springs. It’s worth the extra $50-$60.
  • Ask the supplier for a recommendation on how many times to turn the springs to apply the right amount of tension when reinstalling them.

Check for other worn or rusted components. While the tension is off the door, inspect the other components. If you notice any worn or rusted pieces, replace them before installing the new springs.

  • For instance, if you spot a frayed cable, replace it now to avoid taking the door apart again later.

removing the old springs 3

Installing The New Springs

Slide the left spring onto the tube and add the cable drum. When your new springs arrive, put the new left spring (the 1 with the end facing up and to the left) on the torsion tube, making sure that the stationary cone on the end of the spring faces the centre bracket. After sliding the new spring into place, replace the cable drum and insert the torsion bar into the left bearing bracket.

Install the centre bearing and the right spring, then secure the cones. Slide the torsion bar to the left, then add the centre bearing. Slide the right spring onto the bar and press the bearing into the stationary cone. Connect the stationary cones to the centre bracket with the nuts and bolts you removed previously. Remove the locking pliers or clamp from the centre bracket.

Thread the cables and tighten the drums. Run the lift cable between the roller and the doorjamb. Slip the lift cable stop through the cable slot on the drum. Then, attach locking pliers to the torsion tube to secure it. Spin the drum to wind the cable into the grooves, then tighten the set screws. Repeat on the other side, leaving the locking pliers in place.

  • For the door to operate properly, you need the same amount of tension on both sides, so take care to tighten each side evenly.

 Wind the springs. Insert two winding bars into the winding cone so they are perpendicular. Use the bars to turn the spring ¼ turn simultaneously, moving the bars to new holes in the cone as necessary. Follow the supplier’s recommendation for the number of turns to complete. Repeat on the other spring.

  • Generally, you’ll need 30 quarter-turns for a 7 ft (2.1 m) tall door and 36 quarter-turns for an 8 ft (2.4 m) tall door.
  • Winding the spring too tight could cause it to break and injure you, so be sure to follow the supplier’s recommendation and don’t over-wind the spring.

Test the door and reconnect the opener. Lift the door about 3 feet (0.91 m) high and let it go. If it stays in place, you did the job correctly. If it doesn’t, add a ¼ turn to each spring. Test the door again and add another ¼ turn if necessary. Once you’re satisfied, plug the garage door opener back in.

Symptoms Of Failing Springs

Aging garage door springs cause the door to effectively "weigh" more as the steel loses its resiliency. With new springs, a heavy garage door should take no more than 10 pounds of force to lift into an open position. 

With springs nearing the end of their lifespan, the force required to lift the door can be considerably more since a garage door may weigh 200 pounds or more.

A garage door with aging springs puts an enormous load on a garage door opener, so another sign of failing springs is when you hear the electric door opener begin to strain as it attempts to lift the door. 

At this point, it's time to consider replacing the springs. Aging door springs can also break suddenly, a situation that can cause the door to slam shut violently.

If you happen to be present when a spring breaks, you will hear a very loud sound like a gunshot because the break usually occurs when the spring is fully-loaded (stretched or twisted to its full tension). 

When one spring breaks, the door will suddenly feel very heavy when you try to open it by hand, and an automatic garage door opener may no longer be able to lift the door at all.

Garage door springs cannot be repaired. Maintenance involves the full replacement of both springs at the same time. If one spring has broken, it's a sure bet that the other is nearing the end of its life.

Safety Considerations

If you have a garage door opener and you suspect that a door spring has broken, do not disconnect the opener from the door (by pulling the red emergency release handle) while the door is open. 

If you do, the door can come crashing down under its nearly full weight, with nothing to stop it. This is an extremely dangerous situation. Additionally, it's never safe to leave the door open when a spring has broken, as someone may try to close the door without realising how heavy it is.

If you need to leave the door open until you can make repairs, block the door track on both sides so the door can't move, and unplug the garage door opener (if you have one). 

If you want to close the door, you can try closing it with the opener, making sure there's nothing in the door's path in case something goes wrong. Alternatively, you can have a few strong helpers hold the door while you disconnect it from the opener and carefully close the door manually.

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