DIY Clinic - Project: Garage Door Torsion Spring Replacement
Gary Davis


Garage Door Torsion Spring Replacement

WARNING: Replacement of Torsion Springs is dangerous. Be careful; assume things
may break or slip at any time. Don't rush and double check things all the time.


After returning from dinner out one evening, my wife and I entered the house and then heard a loud noise in the garage. We re-opened the door and looked in and saw nothing out of place; no shelves crashed down nor garden tools fell over.

The next morning we found out what happened. The automatic garage door opener would not open the door more than about a foot and then it reversed. I disengaged the opener and tried to open the garage door manually, but it seemed to be stuck. Then Deborah noticed that the right torsion spring above the door was broken in two.

Well, with both cars trapped in the garage and Deborah about to be late for an appointment, I realized the door was not stuck, it was just heavy with only one spring left to handle the weight. Together, we were able to lift the door and move the cars out until the replacement could be done. Manually lifting the door and then closing it sort of messed up the cables on the drums so I just disconnected the cables from the garage door studs.

So I Googled "garage door springs" and found out they were called torsion springs. I also found the web sites listed below that told me this was a job that can be done by the do-it-yourselfer and that there were a few sites that sold the springs including eBay. I found how to measure the springs and found the exact size I needed from someone on eBay at a resonable price ($75 for two plus the adjusting bars).

I printed off and reviewed all the instructions I could find. I liked the detailed steps from the ddmgaragedoors.com site so I used them as I did the replacement. It took me about four hours to remove and replace the springs. It was the weekend and I was in no hurry and was very cautious. Also, playing with the camcorder probably added about an hour to the project.


Problems Encountered

I think I mis-measured the inside diameter of the springs. It was difficult since the bar went through the broken springs making measurement tricky and I measured 2" when it should have been 1.75". The other measurements were easy - the length (36"), the wire thickness (.262" - measure 10 and divide by 10 and then for sanity, do 20 or 30 too). The direction of the wind is the last of the 4 measurements needed. The springs were installed and do work fine after adjustment.

To remove the old springs, the broken spring slid to the right and off the bar just fine. The left spring, however, would not slide left due to the deformity of the bar from the set screws. The solution was to slide it right. If both sides were deformed, it would have required banging, filing or shaving to get them off. Fortunately, I did not have this problem.

The estimate for the number of winds for a 7' door was 7.25 to 7.75. I decided to try 7.75 but as shown in the video, when the set screws were tightened on the 2nd spring, and the grip on the wind bar was eased up, the door rose up a few inches (to the C-clamp stopper). I backed off the spring two quarter turns and it still rose. I backed off the other spring the same (now at 7.25) and the door did not rise. However, there was still a tendancy to rise when the door was raised up a couple feet. This caused the automatic garage door opener to stop when it started raising the door since the door wanted to go up faster than the opener. So I backed off the tension again, another 1/4 turn for each spring. The final winding count was 7.0.


Observations

One interesting thing I noticed was that painted on the broken spring (shown early in the video) was a white line that was used for counting the winding turns. When this spring was new, the line was painted on the spring as a straight line. Now, with the spring at rest, the line spirals about 6 times. So after 12 years, the spring has apparently lost a lot of its lift power, requiring the automatic garage door opener to do much of the work.


YouTube Videos

The video was created with a Panasonic camcorder and captured to the PC (running Vista 64) using the built-in Windows Movie Maker import. Other techniques dropped frames during capture. The video was edited using Pinnacle V11 and output in Medium WMA format for YouTube. The length of the video was over 22 minutes and YouTube limits videos to 10 minutes so I had to split the video into three parts.

Resources

I wouldn't have been able to accomplish this project without the help of the information I found on these sites. 
Comments or questions to gary@webguild.com