5 Things to Know Before You Replace a Garage Door Spring
Safety and caution take precedence when getting your garage door back into shape.
A garage door spring is one of those household items you probably never think about. Until it’s broken, that is, and you’re stuck in the garage with a door that won’t open and a car that can’t get you to work.
When you’re faced with a this snag, you have a couple of options: calling a pro or replace a garage door spring yourself. Getting a professional to replace the spring can cost between $200 to $300, while undertaking this DIY project yourself can cost $30 to $100 in parts. While replacing the spring yourself may save you a few bucks, having a pro do it will save you from the hazards that come with this task, particularly if you’re a less experienced DIYer.
If you want to try tackling this project on your own, or if you’d like to know more about what’s involved before you decide whether to pick up the phone or head to the hardware store, the following tips will help.
1. Know the different types of garage door springs.
Before attempting to replace a garage door spring, verify the type of spring that you need to replace. These springs fall into two main categories:
Long, skinny springs that run parallel to the door’s horizontal tracks, extension springs store energy by extending or stretching when the door is moved. They can be open-looped, double-looped, or clipped-end.
- Open-looped extension springs are the weakest style of extension spring and rely on an open wire at the end. If this wire is broken, the entire spring needs to be replaced, even if this is the only part of the mechanism that is faulty.
- Double-looped extension springs are stronger than open-looped, featuring two coils at the end of the spring that connect to the pulley and eyebolt.
- Clipped-end extension springs are the most robust of the three. They tend to last longer and are frequently used on garage doors that weigh more than 200 lbs.
A garage door can have between one to four torsion springs, depending on the size, weight, and strength of the door. These springs are broad and can be found on a metal shaft directly above the door opening. Aluminum drums are placed on either end of the metal shaft and the springs are wound to a specific torsion setting in relation to the assembly. They can be standard, early-set, steel rolling-door, or torque-master springs.
- Standard torsion springs are frequently found on residential garage doors, with lighter doors only requiring one spring for effective operation.
- Early-set torsion springs are similar to standard torsion springs, except that they are mounted in the middle of the torsion shaft.
- Steel rolling-door torsion springs are normally seen in commercial and industrial buildings. These springs are contained within the torsion barrel.
- Torque-master torsion springs are enclosed in the torsion shaft and are held in place by a winding cone that sits at the end of each torsion rods.
For residential replacements, the most common spring types are any of the extension springs, and either the standard or early-set torsion springs. Steel rolling-door and torque-master springs tend to be used only in commercial and industrial applications with much heavier garage doors.
2. You can source replacement springs online or from hardware stores or manufacturers.
Finding a replacement spring for the garage door shouldn’t be difficult, provided you’ve taken measurements beforehand and determined which type of spring you need. You can purchase torsion and extension springs online or find them at various hardware stores, including The Home Depot and Lowe’s. However, the spring manufacturer or a professional garage door repair company may be a better option if you are not sure what you are looking for. They will likely carry the exact spring you need and will be able to answer any questions you have before you begin your project.
For those looking to hire a company to replace the spring, it is always better to have the professionals bring their own materials so that there is no discrepancy with parts once they are on site.
3. DIYers should proceed with care and caution.
Garage door spring replacements fall into two categories of hazard severity, depending on whether the springs are extension springs or torsion springs.
- Extension springs can be replaced relatively easily by a DIYer with basic knowledge of garage doors. The dangers to be aware of during this replacement include falling garage doors, activated openers during replacement, and minor cuts due to old or rusted metal.
- Torsion springs are heavy metal springs that are under considerable tension. Working with springs under tension can pose serious hazards, including flying metal if a winding cone or spring breaks, risk of minor to severe cuts, falling garage doors, and activated openers during replacement.
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.
4. Replace extension garage door springs by following these steps.
Extension spring replacements are common projects for DIYers, as they are relatively simple and safe tasks that do not involve the dangers of managing spring tension. The following steps will walk you through how to replace an extension garage door spring.
- Open the garage door to remove all spring tension and clamp it in place. Once in place, disconnect the garage door opener.
Use a piece of tape to mark the current placement of the pulley so that it can be reinstalled at the same place.
- Disconnect the spring from the track bracket and the spring pulley.
- A safety cable is threaded through the spring to hold it in place.
- Disconnect the safety cable from the bracket and remove the old spring.
- Identify the spring replacement that you will need. For extension springs, they have been color-coded with a repeating pattern that indicates the amount of weight they can lift. Simply reference the color of the current spring to figure out what spring to purchase:
- Tan: 100 pounds
- White: 110 pounds
- Green: 120 pounds
- Yellow: 130 pounds
- Blue: 140 pounds
- Red: 150 pounds
- Brown: 160 pounds
- Orange: 170 pounds
- Gold: 180 pounds
- Light Blue: 190 pounds
- Purchase a new spring that matches the old spring.
- Thread the safety cable through the new spring and attach the spring to the track bracket.
- Reattach the safety cable and the pulley, ensuring that the wire from the pulley is kept away from the safety cable. Use the piece of tape that you attached before removing the pulley to make sure that the pulley is installed in the correct location.
- Remove the clamps and connect the garage door opener.
- Test the garage door to be sure that the replacement worked. If the door doesn’t close all the way, or closes too quickly, inspect the location of the pulley and the extension spring hardware, adjusting as necessary.
5. Replace torsion garage door springs by following these steps.
Replacing torsion springs is the more difficult and potentially dangerous task. Attempt the following steps only if you are a very experienced DIYer. In particular, you should undertake steps 2 and 3 and steps 13 through 16 with extreme caution. If in doubt, leave the job to a pro.
- Unplug the opener and clamp the garage door to the track so that the door cannot open when the tension is released on the springs.
- Climb up on a sturdy ladder beside the winding cone at the end of the spring. Insert a winding bar (available on Amazon) into the winding cone to hold the spring in place. Test the force that you will be working with by pushing the winding bar up one quarter turn and then bringing it back down. Once satisfied with the grip on the winding bar, loosen the screw set.
- Keep one bar in the cone at all times to prevent it from rapidly unwinding and potentially injuring you.
- Lower the winding bar to the top of the garage door, then insert a second winding bar.
- Remove the first winding bar and lower the second bar to the top of the garage door, then insert the first winding bar into the next hole. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until the spring is completely unwound.
- Loosen and remove the torsion hardware that secures the center stationary torsion cones to the spring bracket.
- Remove the springs, cables, and cable drums.
- For torsion springs, measure the wire size, inside diameter of the spring (most springs have a 2-inch inside diameter), spring length, and determine the winding orientation (whether the spring is left-wound or right-wound).
- Purchase a new spring that matches the old spring in type, size, and orientation.
- Slide the new left spring onto the torsion tube with the stationary cone facing the center bracket, then reinstall the cable drum.
- Install the center bearing and the new right spring and then secure the cones.
- Thread the cables and tighten the drums. Make sure that the tension is equal on both sides to prevent the door from opening unevenly.
- Using the winding bars, begin winding the spring in the opposite direction as it was unwound. Ensure that at least one winding bar is in the winding cone at all times.
- Wind the spring as many turns as is recommended by the supplier.
- Using a hammer, tap the winding bar to stretch the spring out ¼-inch.
- Tighten the set screws on the winding cone.
- Lubricate the spring with garage door lubricant, then remove the clamp from the garage door.
- Test the spring by lifting the door about 3 feet. If the door remains in place, the replacement was a success. If the door falls, you’ll need to tighten the spring by a quarter turn until it stays open on its own. If the door opens, you’ll need to loosen the spring by a quarter turn until it remains in place.