Professional Installation Versus Do It Yourself
Installing the parts yourself can reduce the cost to the actual purchase of the springs, usually around $100 - $150, and a set of “turning” rods for about $25. The process is not difficult if you can follow a set of instructions but short cuts are not advised as the springs can pack quite a wallop if not handled properly. Improperly handled springs can cause damage to the door and inflict severe bodily injury.
Before You Get Started
The following installation guide is intended for the most inexperienced do-it-yourselfer. Please do not take offense if we oversimplify or explain at great length. The goal is to allow the most uneducated handyman to replace a garage door torsion spring with a minimum of effort and cost and a maximum of safety.
The DIY installation process for a garage door torsion spring replacement is divided in four distinct sections: finding the proper springs and tools, removing the old springs and installing the new ones. Included at the end are some tips form the pros to make the entire process safe and easy.
Determining and Finding the Right Garage Door Torsion Springs
Identifying the right replacement spring for your garage door is relatively simple. You need to make three measurements on an UNWOUND spring. Since most torsion spring failures involve the spring snapping in two, simply place the two unwound halves together again and measure.
Finding the proper garage door torsion springs may be somewhat difficult as many suppliers will only sell to certified garage door dealers. For instance, in Houston, TX, the fourth largest city in the United States there is only one vendor who will sell to the general public. Luckily, in this case, the garage door torsion spring replacement cost is about the same. Also, fortunately, at least one of the big box hardware stores sells the torsion springs online. Be sure that you have the springs on hand before you start the project or the door will be essentially unusable.
Unwinding the Springs - The Most Dangerous Part
Next, since, both springs must be removed together, loosened and unwind each before removing either of them. First, loosen the two screws that hold each end of the UNWOUND spring first. Next, and this is very important, place a specialized tool known as a “winding bar” into the hole located on the side of the WOUND rod.
Instead, brace the winding rod against your chest or the door and loosen the holding screws. The springs will want to unwind but the bars will allow you to do this procedure in a controlled manner. Once the screws are loose, you will insert and remove each winding rod in turn to allow the spring to unwind one quarter turn. It will take approximately 25- 25 insertions to full unwind the spring. At this point the spring is no longer dangerous.
Removal of the Old Garage Door Torsion Springs
The actual removal of the spring s is fairly straightforward. There are two cable drums located on either end of the torsion bar. Before loosening the screws that hold them in place, mark their position with a small file or a marking pen. This small step will save a lot of aggravation later. Loosen one cable drum first and see if the two springs will slide off without removing the other. If so, your job just got a lot easier. If not, loosen the other cable drum and remove the spring from the other side.
Installation of the New Garage Door Torsion Springs
Installing the torsion springs is simply a reversal of the above process. First, slide the springs onto the tension bar. It is important to remember that the springs are engineered to be placed on a certain side. That is, there is a left-wound spring and a right-wound spring. Be sure that you place the appropriate spring in the appropriate location.
Next, place the cable drums back onto the torsion bar and reinstall according to the marks made earlier. The cable on the drums should be completely wound around the drum with little or no slack.
Next, install the springs themselves. Again, this part can be dangerous if you do not have the correct tools. Locate the springs on the torsion bar using the marks made previously and tighten the exterior screws securely.
Now using the winding bars, apply torque to the spring according to the manufacturers instructions. Typically, you will insert the winding bar four times for every foot of door height. For example a 7-foot door would require 28 quarter turns to each spring to properly carry the load of the door.
Once the turnings are complete, securely tighten the screws on the torsion springs. Check that the torsion bar is properly centered and that the cable drums are taut. Now, with the power still off, remove the locking wrench that is holding the door closed. The door should raise one quarter ot one half its height. Different pros differ on exactly how much a properly installed should raise so follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
The door should move freely and easily up and down. If so reinstall the garage door opener and test. Check the that the electric eyes are properly aligned and the garage door torsion spring replacement is complete.
Some Pro Tips
- Unplug any automatic garage door openers before starting and place a locking we wrench on the door to keep it from opening when working.
- Many cones on garage door torsion springs are spray painted and color-coded according to size. Be sure to look at the color of the cones to confirm that you are purchasing the right torsion spring.
- Vendors who will sell to the general public will often also sell the “winding bars” that are a very useful tool when installing garage door torsion springs.
- Never grab the torsion bar or the cable drums when there is still a spring attached.
- Don’t forget to mark the positions of the cable drums before removal.