Thinking about Replacing the Springs Yourself?
Your garage door springs might not be the first thing that come to your mind when the door starts getting stuck, especially if you might have an automatic garage door opener; you might think that the sensors are not picking up the signals from the garage door remote. But if you’ve faced this problem before, you know that the problem might be in the springs.
Like everything, springs also have a limited life span. Although an average spring might last for 6-10 years but that depends on the number of times you use it. Your average garage door opens and closes 3.5 times a day, 300+ days a year. That would estimate the springs to work properly for 10,000 cycles, meaning that at one point, they are going to wear down.
Most people call upon a garage door repair company to replace the spring which can cost a lot of money, but what they don’t know is that fixing a garage door is a fairly easy task if you know how. A call to the repair company would cost you a few hundred dollars, so by knowing what to do when the spring gives up, you can do the task easily, and by yourself, without making a hole in your wallet.
What to Keep In Mind about Your New Spring
When you are replacing the spring yourself, you have to remember that you cannot do so without the proper tools and without knowing the safety precautions. Replacing a garage door spring can be dangerous if the springs are under tension and saying that you lost a hand or a limb while replacing a spring will only show your lack of attention to your own safety.
What You Should Know About Garage Door Springs
When thinking about changing the springs yourself, you first have to remember that you cannot simply work on it with your toolbox without knowing what to do. Any DIY project can become difficult if you depend on good ol’ fashioned luck, so the first thing you have to do is know what is needed to replace a garage door spring.
You will first need to order a replacement spring, which means you will need to know the difference between a right hand wound spring and left hand wound spring, the diameter of the spring, where it broke from, how you can determine the length of the wire and the wire size, the inside diameter and other things. You can get a play-by-play from our video How to Measure Torsion Springs. This will help you get all the information you need in order to get the right replacement spring for your garage door.
When your garage door spring arrives, you need to have the right tools to get started. To replace your spring, you will need winding bars for winding the spring to put the proper tension on it, vise grips which are used to keep the torsion bar from falling out midway through your work, proper wrenches according to the screws which are fixing your springs and an 8 point socket with a square head to make sure that you can use it on the fixtures.
Replacing the Spring
When you start working on replacing the spring, keeps your hands and clothes away from the cones of the spring. Stand on a sturdy ladder, preferably with someone holding it steady, just as a precaution. Wear your safety glasses and start unwinding. Keep your head and body away from the spring parts, and pay attention to the winding bars. DON’T use anything other than a winding bar to unwind the torsion springs, such as a screwdriver, as it will only cause a trip to the emergency room. Insert the bar completely into the winding cones. If you need help, insert them and then mark the edge with a piece of tape. When you have unwound the spring, keep one bar in the cone at all times.
When you are working on the garage door, turn the power off so that you don’t get a sudden surprise if someone comes home and tries opening the door. Loosen and remove the two bolts from the center stationary torsion cone while using a vice grip to keep the torsion bar from falling out midway during the replacement process. When you have successfully unwound the other spring, get to work on the cable drums. Detach the cables from the cable drum and then loosen them so that you are able to remove the shaft with the springs from the socket.
Slide both torsion springs towards the cable drums. This may be easier said than done, so be careful as you might need to file away any disruption such as paint or drywall. Once the spring from one side is out, slide in the new spring, keeping in mind that the cone with the bigger hole will go in first. It will be a real hassle changing the spring if you’ve done it wrong. Remember this about your garage door springs; ends of the springs should be facing you so that when you wind them back, they are both wound in the same direction.
Do the replacement one at a time to make your work easier. When you’re done, reinstall the cable drum and slide the rod back into the bearing. Insert the drum back on the shaft, finger tightening the setscrews into the original indentations for starters.
Start your work on one spring. Use the winding bars to tighten your spring, keeping in mind that your spring will lengthen as you wind it. Insert the bars properly and remember that every time you turn them, it will be considered a turn. You can also count the stencils on the spring if you ever lose count. Once you get your last turn, leave the bar propped in and then tighten the set keys, making sure that you should only torque them, three-quarters of a turn, once the key hits the torsion bar. Go back to the cable drum, insert the cable in the slot, and line it back up, then tighten the screws back in.
Do the same on the other cable drum. Once that is done, you will gently pull out the winding bar from the completely wound up spring and get to work on the other one. Do the same number of turns as on the first spring. After the springs have been tightened, you can test the door.
As they are new springs, the door should be fairly easy to lift. Give them a month to get used to the weight of the door. If the door bounces a bit when you open it, it’s only the door breaking in the new springs.
Done with Your Work
So there you have it. Although it might seem like a lot of work, it’s very easy if you know how to work the springs so that they don’t injure you. Springs are easy to replace, so instead of calling the garage door repair company to come and replace them, it is better to do it yourself and save hundreds of dollars. Garage door springs are readily available and just by understanding the details; you can complete this DIY project without any troubles at all.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are 2 types of springs that are typically used on garage doors, whether you have a residential or commercial door. The most common type is called a torsion spring. It is seen above the top panel of your door when it is in the down position and is mounted on a 1’’ bar called a torsion shaft or torsion tube. Also, it will be mounted to a bracket that is attached to the wood header. This type of spring is known for its longevity and smooth operation because it lifts both sides of the garage door equally as it turns the torsion shaft. When in the down position it is wound up with the most tension and it unwinds as it goes up and should never have less than ½ of a turn on it when the door is opened. You could have either one or two springs in most cases.
The other type of garage door springs that are used is called extension springs. These stretch out along the sides of the horizontal track when the garage door is closed. They are typically are attached to an eye bolt or S-hook at the back of the horizontal track and have a 3’’ or 4’’ pulley at the other end with cables around the pulleys. These are beneficial in situations with lower ceiling heights. It is also is highly recommended to have a safety cable running through the extension spring so when it breaks it can’t hurt anyone or do damage in your garage. These springs are worked on with the door in the open position with the door clamped or vise gripped up so it can not fall when the spring is removed.
If you have torsion springs which are explained above then you will need to see what size torsion spring (wire diameter, inside diameter, and length) and which wind it is (right hand wind or left hand wind). Check out our tutorial video that walks you through each step of measuring your torsion springs here. Also, reach out to us if you need any other help by chat, email or phone.
If you have extension springs you will need to look for the color on the end of the extension spring and check the height of the garage door. The color code tells you the weight that 2 extension springs together will lift. You also can go based on the weight of your garage door with no spring tension on it by lowing the garage door on a bathroom scale after you have removed the springs.
No there are hundreds of different size of torsion springs so that they counterbalance your garage door properly based on the weight, height, cable drum size, and radius track that you have. That is why the easiest way to get the correct torsion springs is the take the measurements using our how to video.
With extension springs they are rated for the weight of your door in 10 lbs increments and the height of your door 7 or 8 foot.
Both torsion and extension springs break because of metal fatigue. Like anything mechanical it will eventually break. An easy way to describe and the get an understanding of this is to take a wire coat hanger and bend it. Now bend it back toward the original position. It didn’t take as much force to bend it back because of the stress put on the metal when it was bent the first time also if you keep bending it back and force it gets easier and easier until it breaks.. This is the same with garage door springs they get weaker with use until they break. Under a microscope you would see micro stress fractures in the steel and with each bend the fractures become more numerous and larger.