A Guide on How to Change Out Garage Door Springs
The garage door is the heftiest part of the house that is also in motion a lot. Weighing between 400-600 pounds, the garage door depends on the springs and other hardware to work properly when you need the door to open or close. Often a vehicle or a person is underneath the door when it opens, with just a spring working with tons of tension.
Unfortunately, springs tend to wear out and can break at an inopportune moment, leaving a car stranded in or out of the garage. Older doors have springs that can snap in an instant, which can result in a serious accident or injury.
Although garage door professionals will adamantly recommend that springs are switched out by an expert, it is possible for someone to do it themselves as long as they do it carefully. It can be intimidating as a beginner to have so much control of the torsion when loosening in the springs, but this guide goes through how to repair springs step by step.
Before starting to replace the springs, a homeowner should be familiar with what kind of spring system came with the garage door, which is usually provided by the supplier. Being confident with adjusting the springs’ tension with a winding rod is the most important aspect of this project which will allow perfect balancing and extend the life of the garage door mechanism without having to work within a professional’s schedule.
But keep in mind that if there is any fear of changing out the springs, which can be risky, you should call a garage door repairman. If you’re up for the task, here is an overview for how to change out the springs…
The difference between single or dual spring systems
Inside on the overheard part of the door, a torsion spring is placed in the center of the torsion rod. Contingent on how old the door is, the mechanism has either one spring or two. The one-spring system controls the door’s sides, winding up to open the door and undoing it to close it. However, the major disadvantage to the one-spring system is that if it snaps, the door can come crashing down. Or the garage door’s opener becomes forced to work that much adamantly as the door ages.
A two-spring system still has springs mounted on the torsion rod, but one is on either side. The benefit of having two springs is that there is less stress on the whole system and when one spring snaps, the door has a chance to remain somewhat intact.
Tools needed to change out a spring
When switching out the springs, make sure you have the necessary tools handy. You’ll want a stepladder, a few C-clamps or vice grips and 0.4375” and 0.5625” wrenches. You must have winding bars to help control the tension of the springs as they are being changed out, which is usually included in the garage door spring kit.
Before buying a new coil, take measurements of the spring you currently have and replace it with the same size. Buying just any spring can cause the door to have too much or too little torsion, further forcing the door to open and close improperly. Be sure to measure the length, wire size, and the span of the inside of the current spring. To determine the cable size, gage 10 compacted coils and divide it by 10. For example, a 2.5” would be a .25” spring width. After taking the measurements of the current spring dimensions and knowing the height of the door, you can go out and be sure to purchase the correct new springs.
Disconnect the opener and clamp down the garage door
After you have the tools you need and the new door spring kit, next you want to prep the area you’ll be working in. Clamp the door closed with a vise grip and disconnect the automatic door opener (usually located in the ceiling).
The process of loosening and unwinding the springs
If a spring is already broken, it just needs to be removed. Even if only one spring snaps in a two-spring system, it’s recommended to still replace both springs. Otherwise, you’ll need to unwind the spring in order to replace it. To manage the tension with unwinding the springs, it’s best to follow these steps:
- Understand the spring: Two garage door systems have dual sides- a fixed end near the central part of the torsion bar and a winding part near the outside of the bar. You’ll know the winding part because it comes with a twisting cone that has many slots in it. That is where the torsion bars are placed to tighten or loosen the spring.
- Placing the winding bar: For utmost safety, wear protective goggles and work next to the spring, not facing it. On the first winding rod, set it so that the slot is pointing out until it snaps. Play with it a bit, moving it down and up to get used to the torsion. Holding the bar, slacken the 0.4375” screws so that the coil can be relaxed if needed.
- Loosen and unwind: Holding the winding bar in place, start to bring it down and then set the next winding rod in the consecutive slot up before removing the first winding bar. Then bring the other bar down and rotate it two .25” turns, repeating this process until the spring is completely unwound and loosened(at least 30 times).
- Then relax the static side: After you’ve slacked both sides of the coil, loosen the 0.5625” screws on the static side so that it’s easier to remove them.
Getting rid of the aged springs
When the springs are completely loosened, it’s simple to remove them by following these steps:
- Mark the parts of the torsion rod- The torsion bar has two drums on each end of the door which are circular pieces that the cables wind around. Using a permanent marker, scratch the position where the drum is at and the place it joins the shaft. This will make it much easier to align when the replacement springs are installed.
- Get rid of the cable- Now that everything is loosened, remove the rope from the drums, but keep it close in the garage.
- Relax the drums- Using your 0.4375” wrench, release the drums on the ends of the garage.
- Then remove the springs and drums- Finally, on one side you can press the shaft through to help relieve the springs, drums and bearings. Hold onto the bearings just in case you need them later, but feel free to throw away the coil so it doesn’t get in the way later.
How to install the fresh springs
Now that you’ve unwound and removed everything, now it’s time to reverse that process for installing new springs. One thing good to know is that tension springs and drums usually have painted scratches on the ends, indicating what side can be wound. Red means that the drum on the left edge of the garage’s interior winds up to the right. From right to left, it should read: black drum, black spring, bearing, red spring, and red drum.
Next you want to place the static center so that the springs can then be wound tight. The bearing in the center should be resting on the top of the brace coming out of the wall, and then the springs aligned by constricting them with a 0.5625” wrench. Measure the length of the tube to each wall’s end to determine how far out to set them.
Set the cable and tauten the drum- feed the coils back into the drums on both sides, winding them until they are taut, using the marks you made for perfect alignment. Then press the drums right up touching the end and tauten the bolts using your 7/16” wrench.
To put tension in the spring, spin the tube until the cable is taut. To hold it in place, place a vise grip on itand prop it up against the door so that it won’t move while you are working on the springs. Then follow the same process to adjust the other drum.
Tightening and winding the springs
When tightening the springs, keep in mind that four ¼ turns is equal to a full rotation. The spring should be turned by how tall your door is- every foot should equal a full rotation. So a 7.5’ door equals seven full rotations and a half turn. To keep track of how many cinches you’ve done, mark a line down the spring. When there are seven and a half slits marked out of the paint in the width of the spring, you’ll know that the spring has reached its tightest point.
Next you’ll need to wind up the spring by turning the winding rods upwards rather than downwards. Placing the winding rod at the bottom, rotate it up quarter turns. Put the other winding rod in the cone slit that is now on the bottom and take away the other bar. Repeat the process.
Finally, pull the winding rod up and secure the screws three-quarters of an inch more than what you think is tight and then do it to the spring on the opposite end of the garage.
Double-check your work
After you’ve replaced the springs, take away the vise grips and raise the door. It should stay in place. If the door is weighing down, then tighten it and if the door is bouncing up, then the springs need to be loosened.
Make sure that you notice tension in the cables when the door is raised and pay attention to how far the door rises when it’s lifted. If the door seems to be over exerting itself, keep in mind that it’s a sign of too much pressure on the spring and that can lessen its lifespan.
It’s easy to adjust the tension by loosening or tightening the spring, or maybe even buying another size spring.
When your garage door is finally balanced, connect the garage door opener and reengage it back into auto mode. Lubricate the springs and then the garage is ready to be used again.
This all may sound advanced, but taking it one step at a time with keeping safety in mind can save some money in the long run.