How to Repair Garage Door Springs and Cables

The secrets to fixing overhead garage door springs and cables without going to an emergency room. Join us as an experienced professional guides you through each step.

Tools Required

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Clamps
  • Cordless drill
  • Hammer
  • Leather gloves
  • Locking pliers
  • Rags
  • Safety glasses
  • Socket/ratchet set
  • winding bars
  • Wrench set

Materials Required

  • Bottom brackets
  • Double-life torsion springs
  • Lift cables

Before you do this garage door spring repair yourself…

Most garage door issues can be quickly and easily addressed; here is a guide on troubleshooting garage door openers. Garage door tension springs should always be treated with extra caution.

What does a garage door tension spring do?

These springs are designed to withstand the weight of a heavy door, while remaining tightly wound as any slippage could result in serious bodily harm.

Can you repair a garage door tension spring yourself?

Yes. Replace an entire torsion system quickly with the right tools, saving yourself from needing emergency room visits. In this article, we won’t focus on replacing garage door extension springs; rather, this article will address replacing torsion springs located above your garage door.

Dependent upon where you reside, DIY garage door spring replacement could save over $200; at minimum it could save $50. Before investing several hours repairing your garage by yourself, get multiple estimates from professionals first to see how much money can be saved by doing it yourself.

Start your garage door spring replacement project by measuring existing spring dimensions (length and diameter). Additionally, measure width and height. Be sure that any estimates include travel fees, parts and labor. Also inquire about adding 7×19 lift cable and double-life Spring components which provide longer-lasting products at only $65.

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Garage Door Lift System

Garage door springs enact an exquisite ballet of twisting force on their torsion tube, while drums at either end create a musical score by skillfully winding cables that control its ascent. Due to its delicate mechanism, springs and cables may break with regular use causing performance issues; interestingly enough many garage door mechanisms depend on just one spring as evidence of how finely balanced and resilient they can be.

1. Clamp the door to the track

Safety must always come first when repairing overhead garage doors, so begin by attaching locking pliers or a C clamp just above one roller of the track to stop sudden upward shooting of door resulting from spring winding. Before beginning spring repairs on garage door springs be sure to disconnect opener and pull cord.

Play it safe…

  • Avoid using screwdrivers, pliers, or pin punches as tools to wind or unwind torsion springs; this is a dangerous undertaking that should be undertaken only with appropriate and trustworthy tools. Purchase professional-grade hardened-steel winding bars at an economical cost – about $25 from trusted online suppliers such as garagedoorpartsusa.com and stardoorparts.com – with ease! Professional winding bars are designed to work with both 7/16-inch and 1/2-inch winding cones, so if yours have 1/2-inch openings you can create your own winding bar by cutting in half 36 inch of 1/2-inch round bar stock readily available from hardware stores or home centers and filing a smooth bevel at each end.
  • Make sure your ladder is placed away from spring ends in order to protect against direct exposure during winding or unwinding, keep the garage door opener unplugged at all times, and ensure the door remains in the lowered position when dealing with spring tension issues. Wearing leather gloves and eye protection are necessary throughout a garage door spring replacement project.
  • Once your task has been accomplished, take steps to safeguard both safety and reliability by unclamping the door before testing its balance from a ladder. Please ensure that safety always comes first!

2. Loosen the unbroken spring

Plunge the sinuous rod into the lower crevice on the coil cone of a sturdy spring and hold firmly while loosening both setscrews – prepare yourself for an explosive torque when both screws are released!

3. Use two winding bars

Place the second rod into the aperture at 9 o’clock. Withdraw the lower rod, and gradually unwind your spring, alternately between winding poles on every revolution.

4. Remove the nuts and bolts

Continue to move the springs toward their terminal brackets by loosening and tightening both nuts and bolts that secure stationary spring cones on the central bracket.

If your car is trapped…

If a cable or spring snaps while your car is inside the enclosure, the garage door could remain shut and leave you stranded. An emergency garage door technician could charge upwards of $400 in emergency assistance on weekends or evenings; alternatively if possible remove your vehicle prior to repair then postpone until weekdays for more affordable service rates.

If you opt to do it yourself, begin by gathering estimates from various service providers. Prices tend to vary widely. Garage doors weigh 200-300 lbs on average; ask three strong friends to help lift it while you secure locking pliers before moving your vehicles and asking your friends for help in lowering it again.

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5. Secure the torsion tube

Use locking pliers or a C-clamp to securely mount the torsion tube, loosen setscrews on both left- and right-lift cable drums with precision to release lift cables, then secure.

6. Slide the torsion tube over

Start your journey on the left side of the door and gently steer the torsion tub along its course to the right to create space necessary to gracefully disengage the cable drum. Your old spring can then be unseated from its perch on the tube so as to welcome in new winds.

7. Calculate the wire diameter

Utilize a tape measuring tool for this task. Position its hook between two spring coils, measure distance encompassing 20 coils and continue until 40 coils have been measured. Divide these measurements (such as 4.1/2 to 4.5 inches or 4-1/8 to 4.125) into decimals to get wire diameter calculations: for instance 4.50 divided by 20 equals 0.225 inch wire diameter while 9.0 divided by 40 gives you the diameter. If both calculations agree, your measurement was conducted correctly.

Determine the “hand” of the spring

By inspecting each end, it’s easy to ascertain the “hand” or wind direction of a spring. An examination such as this clarifies which way its wind blows; for example, if its termination points upwards it would indicate right-hand blows while when pointed downwards it indicates left-hand winds; dual spring doors always feature both types.

Determine the inner diameter and length of a spring. As illustrated, measure the inner diameter of a fractured spring by taking measurements inside and measuring its inner diameter; remove set screws from damaged spring; move broken segment towards stationary part; measure total length excluding cones

Home improvement centers do not carry replacement springs for garage door springs, while service providers do not sell springs either. Garagedoorpartsusa.com and stardoorparts.com offer viable online resources for purchasing springs; assess the condition of brackets and cables prior to purchasing them; any rusted cable should be immediately replaced to prevent imminent failure and cost about $15 per set for bottom brackets; although premium cables marked “7×19” might cost slightly more; an allocation of $12 per set would make this investment wisely worthwhile.

Standard torsion springs are intended to last between 7,000 and 10,000 cycles before needing replacement, however double life-cycle (25,000 cycle) replacement springs are available as alternatives. When used in tandem, any one spring that fails will likely prompt another one to fail soon after; it would therefore be prudent to replace both springs at once for optimal performance.

8. Reassemble, then hang on the bearing bracket

Install the new torsion spring on its torsion tube with its cone facing toward the central bracket, reconnecting cable drum to cable drum and secure with garage door cord, inserting torsion rod into left bearing bracket of bearing bracket, etc.

9. Install a new center bearing

Assemble the torsion bar by moving its center bearing towards the left and attaching both springs. Press down on the bearing firmly into its cone. Reassemble the drum by following its pattern. Connect both cones that are fixed to its central bracket.

10. Deal with rusted parts now

Slip the loop of lift cable over pin on new bottom bracket and place roller in its appropriate spot, before replacing your old bottom brackets with the new ones.

11. Anchor the cable in the slot

Maintain vertical movement of garage door wire or lift cables between rollers and doorjamb. Attach lift cable stops into slots on drum.

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12. Tighten the drums

Snap locking pliers onto a torsion tube and secure it firmly, while you adjust your drums. Rotate one drum to begin cable’s journey through grooves in drum. Pull tight and secure with set screw. Keep locking pliers secure as you repeat tightening procedure on opposite side.

13. Wind the garage door tension springs

Insert a winding rod into the cone, and start winding in the ceiling direction. Turn your spring quarter-rotations by quarter rotation until all winding bars have been alternated; follow any recommendations of your spring supplier regarding total number of rotations; otherwise perform 30 quarter turns for doors 7 feet tall and 36 quarter turns on doors 8 feet tall.

14. Stretch the springs

Once the spring has been fully wound, gently tap the winding rod outward from its center by approximately 1/4 inch and secure with setscrews. Rotate these until they touch torsion tubes then tighten by approximately a half- to three-quarter turn – to prevent damaging torsion tubes by overtightening these screws.

15. Lubricate the spring with a garage door lubricant

Place a piece of paper grocery bag between the spring and wall before spraying the spring with a garage door-specific lubricant spray and wiping away any excess.

Finish With a Test of the Garage Door Tension Spring

Before lifting, remove clamps and pliers before manually lifting the door three feet off of its track. If it stays still upon release, the springs have been adjusted correctly; otherwise, increase each spring by quarter turns until they no longer move when released. If it still opens after release, decrease spring tension in quarter turn increments until it no longer opens on its own, reattach opener, or familiarize yourself with manual operation of door.

16. Meet the pro

Tim Sweeney is the owner and operator of TB Sweeney Repair. With 22 years of experience installing and repairing garage doors for both homes and commercial businesses, his knowledge is second to none.

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