There is a wide variety of garage door manufacturers out there. As a result, there are a lot of people who need to know the basics of how to replace garage door springs.
It’s not uncommon for garage door springs to eventually break down due to regular use. For this reason, it’s important for homeowners to maintain their doors by installing new or replacement springs when needed.
For a step-by-step guide on how to install garage door springs, keep reading.
Benefits of Quality Garage Door Springs
If you’ve never had a problem with your garage door, you might think they all have the same parts. However, that’s not quite the case.
For instance, there are two types of springs used for garage door extension and torsion springs.
Usually, an extension spring lasts for 5,000 to 10,000 uses. However, a torsion spring will last 20,000 lifts or more.
We’ll cover the best place to find quality garage door parts in the end. Meanwhile, let’s start learning how to change garage door springs.
Before You Begin: Staying Safe
Before you do anything, it’s critical that you understand that changing garage torsion springs is dangerous. These kinds of springs are under constant tension.
Accordingly, you must use the right tools and procedures for the job. If not, you could cause damage to your property.
You could also lose your hands or limbs. People have even died trying to change garage door springs.
Of course, we want you to buy our garage door springs. However, if you’re not extremely mechanically inclined, leave the job to professionals.
Even well-experienced professionals have lost limbs while changing garage door springs. With the right information, however, you can minimize your chances of getting hurt. As long as you understand everything fully and you’re skilled with tools, this step-by-step guide should help you replace your garage door springs safely.
When replacing your garage door springs, it helps to make two assumptions. One, the springs will most likely break as you wind or unwind them.
Accordingly, you’ll want to take steps to avoid injury. It’s vital to stay out of the path of the torsion springs.
As you’re winding or unwinding springs, hold the bars firmly on the ends furthest away from the cones. You also want to make sure that you have a secure footing on your ladder. Never stand on a chair, 5-gallon can, or any other tool that’s not specifically designed for this kind of work.
Also, keep your body and clothes away from the springs. You should also always wear safety glasses when working with your garage door.
Second, you should also assume that the cone will slip out with explosive force as you unwind and wind the spring. For this reason, you must also always keep your face and head out of the path of the winding cone.
Also, keep your hands and clothes away from the cones. This way, if the winding bar slips out of the cone, you won’t rip your skin or get your clothes sucked into the spring.
How to Install Garage Door Springs
You want to begin by gathering your tools and supplies. Firstly, you’ll need one, or more, 10-inch vice grips. You’ll also need an adjustable wrench.
In addition, you’ll need two 1/2” x 18” winding bars to wind and unwind the springs. You can find a 1/2” by 36-inch steel rod at most hardware stores. You’ll then need to cut the bar in half.
Again, you’ll need a steady ladder. You also want rags for cleaning grease and debris from your hands. You’ll also find a tape measure and a file helpful for the job.
A socket wrench set will help the job go a bit faster. Finally, you want to make sure that you have adequate lighting. Now, you’re ready to get started.
Step 1: Getting Ready For the Job
You’ll want to begin by measuring both your new and old springs. Here, you’re checking to make sure you brought the correct springs.
As you measure the old springs, make sure not to touch the winding cones at the end of the springs. Also, don’t grab the springs to take measurements.
Keep your ruler or tape measures and fingers on the outside of the springs. Also, keep them away from the winding cone. In some cases, torsion springs can spin just from a light touch.
Measuring the New Springs
Now, you can lay the new springs on your garage floor or workbench. Here, you can measure the length and the inside diameter of the new springs. You also want to measure 20 coils to determine the wire size.
Now, stand the new springs up against the inside of the garage door. Here, you’ll want to look closely at the ends of the springs. Next, turn them so that the ends of the spring coils are on top, facing you and pointing to each other.
Now, place the left spring on the left end of the door. As a guide, the end of the wire points to the right toward the center of the door.
This is a right wind torsion spring. You’ll install this spring on the left side of the garage door. This spring usually has red paint on the winding cone.
You’ll place the other spring on the right side of the door. Likewise, the end of the wire points to the left toward the center of the garage door. This is the left wind torsion spring.
You’ll install this spring on the right side of the garage door. This spring usually has black paint on the winding cone.
Step 2: Mark the Torsion Shaft
At this point, the cables are still tight on the drums. You’ll want to mark the drums and torsion shaft at each end with a marking pen or file.
Remember to work cautiously if the spring is still wound. Don’t touch the cable or drums. Also, don’t touch or grab the shaft.
If these parts are worn, they could break at any time. If they do, they’ll release enough force to rip through muscle and bone.
You may also have a loose set screw. If so, the shaft could spin, causing injury.
Now, you can mark the garage door shaft and cable drums. You’ll need to make these marks to level the garage door after you’ve installed the new springs.
In some cases, you may find that both springs have broken or become unwound. It’s also possible that the cables have come off of both drums.
In this case, you should never use a screwdriver to unwind or wind the garage door torsion springs. Instead, wrap the cables around each drum and make your marks.
Step 3: Unwind the Old Springs
Now, you can unwind the springs. You’ll need to use the winding bars to do it safely. It’s also important that the winding bars fit in the winding cone properly.
Make sure that the edges of the winding bar are square, not round. You’ll want to test the bar before loosening the screw set.
Place one end of the bar into the hole of the winding cone. Now pull down on the bar slightly to make sure that the set screws are sufficiently tight.
Then, wiggle the bar from side to side and measure the play. It should move less than 1 1/2” inches.
If it moves more than 2 inches in either direction, the bar does not fit properly. You’ll need a winding bar that fits properly. You may also consider hiring someone to finish the job at this stage.
As you use the winding bar, you also want to make sure that you’re using it properly. It’s helpful to mark the winding bars with tape. By taping the ends of your winding bars, you can clearly see how far they’re inserted into the winding cone.
Unwinding the Springs
Now, get into position on a stable ladder by the garage door. You can now insert the bar into one of the winding cone holes.
It’s important to make sure that the bar goes all the way into the cone. When the bar hits the core, you should hear a click.
You may find it helpful to test the force you must manage before loosening the set screws. To do so, you can push up on the bar a quarter turn and pull it back down.
Now, firmly grasp the other end of the bar and loosen the set screws with an adjustable wrench. You should loosen the setscrews just enough so that they’ll come free if the cone spins. If the screws have been tightened properly, they should loosen with less than one turn.
During this part of the job, prepare for the torque that will transfer to the bar. When changing torsion springs, keep the bar in the cone at all times.
Step 4: Loosen the Torsion Hardware
Now, you can loosen and remove the two bolts securing the center stationary torsion cones. It helps to turn the bolts rather than the flange nuts.
Alternatively, the spring bracket may have slots. You can use your vice grips to secure the shaft in the bracket. You can also secure the shaft using a cable tie.
Next, slide both torsion springs out above the top of the garage door toward the cable drums. Note that there’s only one bushing or bearing between the cones. You’ll want to remember this point when you install the new cones.
Now, make sure that the torsion hardware is secure. If necessary, tighten the lag screws attaching the spring anchor bracket to the header.
As a reminder, never touch wound springs. If you were to remove the screws from wound springs accidentally, you could face serious injury and even death.
Now, you can slide both springs out toward the cable drums. In most cases, this is the most difficult part of replacing garage door springs.
Next, work on the left end of the garage door. Loosen the set screws above the cable drum until it turns freely. Now, you can remove the cable from the drum.
In some cases, you may find that the bearing has worn ridges. Alternatively, you may notice the set screws have left raised metal. In these cases, you’ll need to file the shaft.
Now, repeat the process on the other drum.
Step 5: Install the New Springs
At this stage, you’re ready to install your new garage door springs. Start by sliding the drum away from the bearing plate.
Now, you can slide the cable drum away from the end bearing plate. If needed, file the end of the shaft.
In some cases, you may need to tap the outside of the head plate with a hammer while at the same time pulling the shaft to the right to get it to slide through the bearing. Now, go to the other side of the garage door and pull the shaft out of the head plate if it hasn’t slid out on its own. If needed, file the shaft.
Here, you’ll want to take a close look at the bearing. Make sure that it’s properly lubricated.
You can use motor oil, spray lithium, or spray lubricate grease. However, never use WD-40.
Now, remove the cable drum. Also, slide off the worn-out spring. You can also remove the old torsion spring and discard it.
Now, slide the new spring into position. The cone with the big hole is stationary.
This end goes on first. Here, you’ll need to slide the winding cone over the end of the shaft.
Checking Your Progress
Make sure you have the correct wind on the new torsion spring. The winding cone end of the left garage door spring should face up if it’s facing you. Again, the red cone is usually the right winding spring that gets installed on the left of the garage.
Then, you can slide the spring into the spring anchor bracket, centering it above the garage door. Next, reinstall the cable drum and slide the shaft on the bearing.
Now, repeat this process with the other torsion spring.
Step 6: Install the Torsion Hardware
Begin this part of the job by sliding the drum onto the shaft. Now, make the set screws finger-tight in their original indentations.
Next, attempt to turn the drum on the shaft. If the set screws are correctly finger-tight in the original grooves, the drum should not turn.
If all’s well, slide the end of the shaft on the end bearing plate. Now, tighten the set screws 1/4 to 1/2 and turn past where you finger-tightened them.
Now, you’ll need to bend the end of the garage door cable. Bending the cable keeps the tip from catching on the end bearing plate. If this happens, the cable can come off, causing the garage door to cock, fall, or jam.
Now, you can pull down the drum to tighten the cable around the outer, raised drum groove. Next, twist the garage door shaft to tighten the cable on the drum.
Head to the other side of the garage door and insert the cable into the drum. Now, finger-tighten the drum set screws until the drum stops turning.
Wrapping up the Hardware Installation
Next, you’ll secure the torsion springs in the middle. You may have a spring anchor bracket with a fixed seal bearing.
If so, check for wear at the point where the bearing race and the shaft meet. Now, you can slide the springs into the bracket.
Some installers offset the bracket. However, this kind of installation is not necessary.
You can now install the bolts to secure the stationary center cones to the center bracket. If you can’t get the stationary cones finger-tight against the center bracket, you can use washers between the winding cone and the spring bracket.
Step 7: Wind the Springs
Now, mark the shaft just past the winding cone. This is the last important step in ensuring that you install the springs on the correct side of the center bracket. It helps to understand that torsion springs will grow in length when wound in the right direction.
If you haven’t done it already, tape your winding bars. Marking the winding bars with tape makes it easier to see that you’re inserting the bars completely.
However, it also helps to make sure that the bar doesn’t slip out of the cone as you stretch the springs. Even professional installers tape their winding bars.
Again, every time you insert the winding bar, listen for the click to make sure that it’s all the way in.
Now you can wind the spring. Take note that the end spring on the winding cone points up when you’re facing it.
Winding the springs requires a counter-intuitive motion. You’ll need to turn as if you’re trying to unscrew the cones from the end of the springs.
Winding the Springs
Start by turning the spring up one-quarter turn until it meets its resistance. Note that this is your first quarter turn. Give this turn a count of one.
Now, insert the winding bar and raise it 90°. Next, insert the second bar. Give a count of two.
Raise a second bar 90° and insert the first bar. Give a count of three.
If the spring is getting shorter, it’s on backward. Also, if it comes loose after about six turns, you’re most likely winding it backward.
If it’s getting longer, keep turning until you reach the count of 30 if you have a 7-foot door. In total, this is about 7 1/2 turns. If you have an 8-foot door, you’ll need to count to 34.
Step 8: Completing the Spring Winding
Here, the job gets tricky. You must do three things at once.
Use your left hand to lift the bar just off the top of the door. Now pull it toward the center of the garage door.
Lift the bar up and back, and tap under the bar just under the winding cone with the other bar. This action will cause the spring on the cone to bind on the shaft and stop it from slipping. Now, stretch the spring by tapping the winding bar.
Keep tapping the cone until it the cone reaches the mark you made on the shaft earlier. Also, watch the tape on the bar to make sure it’s not slipping out of the cone.
If the winding bar slips, rest it against the top of the garage door. Insert the other bar in the next hole and turn it up enough to push the marked bar back in place.
When the cone reaches the mark, keep pulling the bar off the garage door and back toward the middle of the door with your left hand. Now, tighten both set screws 1/2 to 1/4 and turn each after each screw meets the shaft.
Testing the Winding
Now, test the screws carefully by pulling down on the winding bar. When you pull down on the bar, the garage door should lift. If the winding cone slips, pull it back down and tighten the set screw another quarter turn.
Now, you can remove the vice grip from the shaft. Apply the vice grip on the vertical track about 3 inches above one of the rollers. If you accidentally overwind the springs, the vice grip will keep the garage door from flying up and hurting you after you wind the second torsion spring.
Now, repeat this process for the second torsion spring.
Step 9: The Final Check
You can remove the vice grip from the track if the garage door stays on the ground by itself. If so, close the door with one hand and remove the vice grip using the other.
Often, people get hurt when installing garage door springs that are too strong. In some cases, you may find that the garage door lifts off the floor.
In other cases, you could find that the springs are too strong. You’ll need to restrain the door from flying open.
To check your garage door, lift it slowly. You want to check the balance of the door.
It’s important to purchase the right springs to make sure that your garage door functions properly. If you have the correct springs, the garage door will stay down when it’s closed.
Also, it should stay halfway open when it’s halfway open. It should also stay all the way open when you open it all the way.
In some instances, you might notice the door drop by itself from the halfway point. In that case, add 1/4 turn of tension to the torsion springs.
If the springs are too strong, the door will not stay down or halfway when you wound the springs with the correct number of turns. You’ll also find the garage door hard to close. To correct the problem, never remove more than 1/2 a turn spring tension.
If the springs are too weak, the door will feel heavy on the floor after winding the spring the correct number of turns. Also, it will stay open halfway. However, it will stay open if you raise it completely.
If you remove more than 1/2 of a turn of spring tension, you risk the cables coming off the drums. You could cause property damage— and worse—physical injury.
Meanwhile, don’t use your garage door. You’ll need to put the project on hold until you get the correct springs.
If all is well, you can oil the springs. A 40-weight oil will do the job nicely. Here, if all you have is 10W40, that will do in a pinch.
Finally, check the garage door along the floor. It should seal all the way across perfectly. If not, you may need to adjust the drum on the high side to make it level.
Step 10: Reconnect the Opener
Now, you can reconnect and engage the garage door opener. If the garage door has passed all previous checks, you should have no problems here.
You want to get the spring tension right the first time to avoid installation problems. Here, it’s helpful to buy from a supplier who can help you to select the right springs.
As promised, you’ve come to the right place to learn of just such a supplier.
Where to Buy Garage Door Springs
Now that you know how to replace garage door springs, you need the best place around to order your parts.
DIY Garage Door Parts makes high-quality garage door springs and hardware right in the USA. We also offer fair and competitive pricing. What’s more, we provide exceptional customer service.
When you purchase your garage door parts from DIY Garage Door Parts, you’ll receive the highest level of care. Furthermore, we’ll make sure that you get your parts fast.
Please feel free to use our site today to find the right garage door springs.