Several things can go wrong with garage doors. Most of the time, repairing a garage door is fairly simple and can be done by just about anyone. In this article, we will focus on replacing garage door springs. The springs are on the easy to fix list, but if you are careless, they can hurt you. This guide will help you understand how to change your garage door springs without any unnecessary trips to the ER.
Measure the old springs and the new springs to make sure they are the same length. You can usually tell just from looking at the springs if the new springs match the old springs in diameter. If they don’t look right, double check to make sure you have the right springs. If the replacement spring is longer or shorter than the old spring, double check that you have the right springs. Inspect the ends of each spring, more specifically, the winding cones on the end. They should be very similar to the old and new springs. The winding cones should be painted, so you know which spring goes on the right or left if you have two springs. Some smaller doors may only have one spring.
If you have two springs, it is important that you put the correct spring on the correct side. Keep in mind that most springs are referred to as right and left, but this can be confusing since you are replacing them on the wrong side of the door. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions but be aware the right side of the garage door refers to the right side if you are outside of the garage facing the door. If you are inside facing the door, the right side is the left side instead. This is always confusing and usually not noted in the instructions that come with the garage door or the new springs. If the springs are installed on the wrong side, it can damage your garage door or injure you. Triple check to make sure you are putting the correct spring on its side of the door.
Before removing anything, and with the garage door closed, mark where the Cable Drums are on the torsion shaft. You can use a file or a marker. If your springs or drums are broken, try to get the mark as close to accurate as possible. You’ll need these marks later to make sure everything is lined up and balanced. Test your winding bars first. Make sure they fit in the holes on the winding cone. Make sure they go in far enough not to slip out. There will be a lot of tension on these bars when you start unwinding the spring.
Once you know the winding bar fits, loosen the set screws on the winding cone. Br prepared at this point to feel a lot of tension on the winding bar. The tension the set screws were holding will be transferred to the winding bar. Always keep a winding bar in the winding cone. Otherwise, all the tension in the spring can be released at once and ruin your garage door and inure you. The winding bar should move down, much like loosening a bolt, until it butts up against the top of the garage door. When it is wedged, place another winding bar in a free hole on the winding cone, remove the previous bar and repeat. Unwind the spring using the winding bars until it is completely unwound.
Now that the old spring is unwound and less dangerous loosen and remove the bolts that hold the winding cones on the End Bearing Plates. You should only have to remove the bolts from one side to get the spring off the torsion bar, but it may be necessary to loosen any bolts on the other end. If you must remove the bolts, mark everything with a marker or file to make putting it back together easier. If you have these marks in place, aligning the bars, flanges and such will be much easier. Assuming the bearings on each end of the torsion bar are ok, you can remove one end of the bar and slide the unwound spring off.
A few things to note if the spring won’t slide along the shaft; the shaft may be worn or damaged, or there may be paint, drywall mud, or any number of things on the shaft that can prevent the spring from slipping off easily. Clean the bar and file down any damaged areas. Gently tapping the winding cone with a hammer to help move the spring along is ok for removing the old spring but avoid using this method to install the new spring.
Put everything back in place and use the marks you’ve made to line it all up. Tighten all the bolts except the set screws in the winding cones. Once it is all put back together, wind the new spring. This is done just like unwinding the old spring, only in reverse. Refer to the spring and garage door manufacturer’s instruction on how many times to wind the new spring. Inspect the door thoroughly and open and close it several times before assuming it is working or turning the power back on to your garage door opener. It’s a simple repair job but requires a lot of extra safety due to concerns about the spring tension. Be safe and test each step before going to the next.
The most common type of garage door springs is torsion springs located on a bar above the door. The springs apply a twisting type force on the bar at the top. This tension helps lift the heavy door and hold it in place. Once it is open via cables that run along the sides of the door. They are in constant tension, so safety is a priority. Replacing your garage door springs yourself can save you a good deal of money. Some online sources claim you can save between $300 and $500, depending on your garage door. That’s serious incentive to replace them yourself. Before replacing your garage door springs, there are a few things we need to clarify. This article assumes you have some basic tools. It also assumes you have some mechanical ability. You should be aware of the basic parts of your it and what they called.
Most garage doors have an End Bearing Plate. This plate is attached above the curved metal guide on one or both sides of the garage door. There is a Cable Drum attached to the top of the End Bearing Plate. The Cable Drum holds the cable that runs down to the bottom of the door and aids in opening and closing the door. A Roller Stem is attached to the garage door and slides in the curved metal guide on either side of the garage door. For the most part, those are the parts that make up a typical garage door opening and closing mechanism. If your garage door is different or has parts not mentioned here, refer to the owner or manufacturer’s guide. Chances are this guide will work with most garage doors.
The springs are under a lot of tension and trying to remove them without them can be dangerous. You can find winding bars, such as these on Amazon, for about $20. Refer to your owner’s guide or the manufacturer's website for your garage door to determine the size of winding bars to purchase. Typically, these will be 1/2-inch or 7/16-inch winding bars. You should have a couple of C-clamps on hand to secure the door before winding the springs. You’ll also need a set of sockets and a ratchet to remove a few bolts. It is a good idea to have a wrench that fits the nuts and bolts on your door in case the ratchet doesn’t fit, or the wall is too close the End Bearing Plate. Finally, a sturdy 6-foot step ladder and heavy leather gloves will round out the tools you need.
Do not attempt this job without taking every safety precaution possible. Wear eye protection and heavy leather gloves at all times during this repair job. Do not stand on a bucket or chair. Use a ladder and make sure that ladder is tall enough to safely allow you to reach all the parts you need to remove and replace.
It’s impossible to cover every safety step. There may be hazards in your garage that are not present in most garages. Use your best judgment but be sure the safety measures covered here are followed. There are a few safety measures that require some assumptions. These may or may not because of a hazard, but you should always assume they will be a problem. Assume the springs will break while you are winding or unwinding them. They may not, but it can happen, and it is not uncommon. The heavy leather gloves and eye protection will help prevent injury to your eyes and hands but gripping the winding bars close to the end and keeping your head to one side will help avoid injuries as well.
Assume the cone the winding bars fit into will slip, break or explode. Again, this may not happen, but it can, and it’s more common in older garage doors. Just like the safety steps for the springs, keep your head out of the way. If your head is to one side, it is unlikely any shrapnel will hit you, but eye protection and leather gloves are still necessary. If you have a garage door opener, unplug it. You may need to flip a breaker or remove a fuse if your garage door opener is hardwired. Make sure the garage door is closed before turning the power off to the garage door opener. Whether you have a garage door opener or not, the garage door should be in its closed position for every step.
A final word of warning: avoid touching the springs, especially if they are wound. They can spin with just a touch and trap skin and fingers easily. When lifting and moving the springs, try to always grip the cones on each end and not the spring itself. Be gentle when placing the springs on the garage floor or installing them to avoid sudden tension release and possible injuries.