When you hire someone to repair your garage door, most of your money pays for labor. You can save a lot of money by making the repairs yourself in the time that you would spend waiting for a repairman to show up. These step-by-step directions will help you replace your garage door torsion springs in a standard double torsion spring setup.
Before you get started, gather the following information to ensure that you order and install the right springs:
- Torsion spring dimensions. Watch our video that explains how to measure a garage door torsion spring.
- Garage door weight, model and size
- Track radius
- Cable drum number
Because the garage door is the biggest moving part of your home and torsion springs are under significant tension, you need to make sure you know how to make the repair safely and correctly. We also highly recommend reading any warning labels that are on your garage door and any new parts. While we can’t eliminate the risk of injury, following these instructions will certainly help you replace your garage door torsion springs safely.
- Wear safety goggles.
- Keep clothes and body parts away from cones and springs.
- Keep your body, especially your head, away from the path of the torsion springs.
- With the garage door closed, unplug the openerand disengage from the garage door.
- Replace the torsion springs with the garage door closed.
Tools and Supplies Needed to Replace Torsion Springs
- Two torsion springs
- Safety goggles
- Two vise grips
- Two 1/2-inch X 18-inch winding bars (never use screwdrivers)
- Sturdy ladder
- Wrenches: 9/16, 1/2 and 7/16 inches, 3/8-inch square head, or eight-point socket.
- Ruler or tape measure
- Portable lighting
Removing Tension from Torsion Springs that Aren’t Broken
For the purpose of balancing your garage door after you’ve replaced the torsion springs, mark the drums and torsion shaft with a marking pen when the cables are still on the drums. If the cables are no longer on the drums or both torsion springs are broken or unwound, wrap the cables around the drums before marking them.
Before releasing tension from the torsion springs, make sure your winding bars fit tightly in the winding cone, and insert the bar in the cone until it clicks as it hits the core. It’s helpful to tape the bars after insertion so you can tell if they’re coming loose while winding and unwinding.
While holding one end of the winding bar, use a wrench to loosen the screws. Assuming the screws were tightened properly, it will take less than one full turn to loosen them. Keep a winding bar in the cone at all times.
If the torsion spring won’t unwind even after removing the screws, pull down on the winding bar and be ready for the cone to come loose. When it does, pull the bar down so it rests on the garage door.
While holding the first winding bar, insert your other winding bar into the next hole on the cone and raise it to the point in which you can remove the first bar from the cone. Continue one quarter turn at a time until the torsion spring is totally unwound.
If the other torsion spring isn’t broken, repeat this process to unwind that spring as well.
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Preparing to Remove Torsion Springs by Loosening Hardware
Remove the two bolts that attach the spring bracket to the center stationary torsion cones. If you have a slotted spring bracket, use your vise grips on the spring anchor bracket to keep the shaft from falling out. Take the bushing out of the torsion cone and leave it near the center spring bracket on the shaft.
Slide each one of your torsion springs on the shaft above your garage door in the direction of your cable drums. You’ll find a single bearing or bushing between the cones. This is all you need to prevent the shaft from rubbing up against the spring anchor bracket. You could break the cone if you attempt to install a bearing or bushing in each one.
To ensure that your torsion hardware is stable, you may need to tighten the lag screws that connect the header to the spring anchor bracket, or you may need to use different lag screws that are thicker or longer. Screws should only be removed after your torsion springs have been unwound.
Slide your torsion springs towards the cable drums on the outer edge of your garage door opening. This could be tricky if anything is obstructing the path, including an enlarged shaft, screw burs or paint. However, these obstructions can usually be filed away. If the shaft is slightly bent or warped, you may have to insert a winding bar into the cone and gently tap the bar with your hammer until the cone slides past the troublesome area on the shaft.
To remove the cable from the left drum, loosen the screws on the cable drum on the left side until you can turn the drum easily. Now you can safely remove the cable and slide the drum toward the center of the garage so you can inspect the bearing and shaft. You’ll need to file the shaft if there is raised metal or the bearing has worn ridges where it meets the shaft.
Repeat this process on the right side of your garage door.
Replacing the Torsion Springs
Start on the right side by sliding the drum to the left towards the center of the garage door, away from the bearing plate. File the end of the shaft if necessary. Remove the shaft from the headplate on the other side of the garage door if the shaft didn’t slide out yet. The torsion spring and cable drum will not come off the shaft if it’s rough, so you may need to do some more filing.
Lubricate the end bearings with the proper lubricant, not WD-40. If the bearing is stuck or has a “ADH” label, you should replace the bearing.
Remove the left cable drum, and remove and dispose of the old torsion spring.
Slide the new torsion spring onto the shaft. The cone with the larger hole is the stationary end and should go first. The other end is winding cone end.
To ensure the correct wind on the new torsion spring, the end of the spring wire, next to the winding cone on the left side, should point up. The red cone indicates a right wind spring.
Slide your new torsion spring to the center bracket above the garage door.
Reattach the cable drum, rewrap the cable and reinsert the shaft into the bearing.
Repeat this entire process on the other side of the garage door. Keep in mind that the cone on a left wind spring is typically painted black and should be mounted to the right of the center bracket.
The end bearing plate tends to lean with wear, so straighten the plate if necessary.
Reinstalling Your Torsion Spring Hardware
Look for the marks you made at the beginning of this process. Slide the drum on the shaft into the bearing and line up those marks.
Tighten the screws into their original grooves with your fingers and rotate the drum to locate the slots. You shouldn’t be able to turn the drum if the screws have been correctly finger-tightened.
Slide the shaft into the end bearing plate and tighten the screws with a wrench by 1/4 or 1/2 turn. You can damage your screws by under- or over-tightening, so don’t take this step lightly.
Insert the cable into the cable drum so it’s straight in the slot.
Use vise grips to rotate the garage door shaft to keep the cable tight on the first drum while you install the cable on the second drum and put the drum back in its place on the other side of the garage door.
Turn the cable drum to tighten the cable and make sure the drum is flush with the race of the bearings. The marks you made at the beginning of the process should line up.
As you did with the cable drum on the other side, tighten the screws with your fingers first, and then use a wrench to achieve an extra 1/4 to 1/2 turn.
If your system uses a slotted center bracket, lubricate the shaft at the bushing where it rotates and make sure the shaft parallel to the header. If you’re using a spring anchor bracket with a fixed steel bearing, make sure there is nothing inside the bearing that prevents the shaft from sliding freely. Look for wear and file as needed. If your garage door system doesn’t have a center bearing, lubricate the shaft inside the bearing and at the center bracket.
Slide the new torsion spring to the center bracket and make sure each spring is on the proper side. The spring wire should be pointing up at the center bracket and down on the outside ends.
Bolt the stationary center cones on the torsion springs to the center bracket, finger-tightening the nuts until the cones are flush with the bearing plate. If you can’t get them flush, use washers.
Inspecting and Lubricating your Garage Door
You need to check the tension of your torsion springs to prevent it from falling down or flying open by itself. Close the garage door and place vise grips on the track to prevent the garage door to prevent it from opening. You can remove the vise grips if the garage door remains completely closed. If it rises off the floor on its own, there is too much tension on your torsion springs. Close the garage door, remove the vise grips, and manually open the door. Remove 1/4 turn of tension from your torsion springs but never more than 1/2 turn.
On the other hand, if the garage door falls to the floor on its own after reaching the halfway point, there isn’t enough tension on your torsion springs. Add 1/4 turn of tension to your torsion springs.
Properly adding or removing tension should balance your garage door. If you wind or unwind your springs too many times to get the garage door to stay open or closed, this will place too much stress on the various components of your garage door system and shorten its life. It could also create a potentially dangerous situation by damaging certain parts. This is a sign that you’re using the wrong springs.
Once you’ve balanced your garage door, lubricate your new torsion springs by adding and rubbing motor oil in the coils. Just don’t lubricate the parts of the springs that are would around the cones on the ends.
Inspect the garage door at the floor. If you don’t have a tight, level seal, you should adjust the cable drum on the higher side of the garage door.
Start Using Your Garage Door!
Reconnect the garage door opener to the door, plug in the opener, and adjust the force and travel settings if necessary.
We hope you’ve found these instructions for replacing your garage door torsion springs to be helpful. We encourage you to check out “how to” videos on our website to get a better understanding of the various components of your garage door system that contribute to safe, smooth and quiet operation of the door. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us. The garage door experts at DIY Garage Door Parts are happy to help.