An In-Depth Guide To Replacing Garage Door Torsion Springs

Posted on: 31 March 2016

The average set of garage door torsion springs can wear out after 20,000 cycles. If you open and close your garage 4 times a day, that adds up to approximately 13 years of use before they'll need to be replaced. Replacing your garage door torsion springs seems like an intimidating job, but the following step-by-step guide can help you get the job done quickly and safely.

Preparation and Safety Tips

By design, garage door torsion springs are kept under a tremendous amount of tension, making them dangerous if removed or handled incorrectly. Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind throughout the replacement process:

  • Always assume that the torsion spring will break as it's being wound or unwound. The spring itself will remain on the shaft, but there's always the possibility for flying debris to cause injury.
  • Avoid standing in front of the torsion spring during the winding and unwinding process.
  • Keep yourself on a flat, level surface and avoid using improvised platforms (such as a chair or a bunch of paint cans).

In addition to a high-quality socket wrench set, a set of vise grips and a set of box wrenches, you'll also need a couple of winding bars to release and reapply tension to the torsion spring. Both bars should be 18 inches in length and 5/8 or 1/2 inches in diameter, depending on the diameter of the holes in the winding cone.

Removing the Old Torsion Springs

Start by measuring the new torsion springs to make sure they're the same length as the springs you're about to remove. Afterwards, locate the set screw on the cable drum and mark its position relative to the shaft with a grease pen or by scratching an indentation on the shaft with a file. You'll need this mark to help level the garage door after the installation is complete. Do this for both sides of the garage door.

Now it's time to focus on unwinding the torsion spring. Start by inserting one of the winding bars completely into the winding cone. With a firm grip on the winding bar, carefully loosen the set screw holding the torsion bar in position. Next, insert another winding bar into the winding cone and turn the spring in a downward direction in quarter-turn increments. Always keep one winding bar in the winding cone at all times and keep a firm grip on that bar as you work.

Repeat these steps until the spring is completely unwound and unwind the spring on the other side the same way. As you unwind both springs, make a mental note of how many quarter turns it took to unwind them.

Next, remove the two bolts securing the stationary torsion spring cones (located on the opposite side of the winding cone) to their anchor brackets. If necessary, lock the shaft in place with vise grips to prevent it from falling off the bracket. Now you can slide both torsion springs towards the cable drums.

Loosen the set screws on the cable drum until the drum turns freely and then remove the cable from the drum. This will allow you to separate the drum from the plate located on the end of the shaft. Carefully inspect the plate and lubricate the shaft bearing inside of the plate. Slide the shaft until you can slide it off the shaft bearing. Afterwards, you can slide the torsion spring off the shaft. Repeat these steps for the other side.

Installing the New Torsion Springs

Before installing your new torsion springs, make sure you know which spring goes on each side of the torsion spring shaft. The winding cone for the right-hand side torsion spring will be painted black and the winding cone for the left-hand side torsion spring will be painted red. Carefully slide the spring onto the shaft. Make sure the winding cone is facing away from the spring anchor bracket and then slide the torsion spring towards the bracket.

After slipping the springs onto the shaft, slip the cable drum onto the shaft and reinsert the shaft into the bearing. With the cable drum back on the shaft, locate and line up the marks you made earlier and finger-tighten the set screws in place. Once the set screws are properly tightened, you shouldn't be able to turn the cable drum. Reinsert the cable into the drum and turn the shaft to tighten the cable on the drum. Keep the cables under tension by securing the shaft with vise grips. This will keep the cables from falling off the drum as you rewind the torsion springs. Bolt the stationary torsion spring cones to the spring anchor bracket.

Winding the New Torsion Springs

Now you'll need to wind the new torsion springs. Reinsert your winding bars into the winding cones and turn the torsion springs upwards in quarter-turn increments. The torsion springs should grow in length as they're being wound up. Remember how many turns it took to unwind the torsion springs -- in most cases, you'll need to wind the torsion springs to that amount. Most 7 to 7.5-foot garage doors require 30 quarter turns or 7 1/2 full turns.

Afterwards, carefully tighten the set screws approximately 1/2-turn after the screw touches the shaft. Pull down on the shaft to ensure the set screws are holding the torsion spring in place -- the garage door should begin to lift open when the winding bar is pulled down. Once both sides are properly wound, you can remove the winding bars from the winding cones and the vise grip from the torsion spring shaft.

Finish up by checking the garage door's balance. This will ensure that the garage door opens and closes properly after installing the new springs. 

If you need help, contact a company like Crawford Door Company.

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