“If your garage door spring is broken, your garage door becomes very difficult to lift.”
Broken garage door torsion springs make it nearly impossible to use your garage door. If you want to replace the torsion spring on your door, read this first. It may save you a lot of time, money and potential injury.
If your garage door uses a torsion spring, you will see a long, cylindrical spring attached to the metal shaft that runs across the front wall above your garage door. If yours is broken, you will likely see the spring separated into two pieces where the break occurred.
One end of the torsion spring is attached to a fixed mounting plate usually located above the center of the garage door frame, although some are mounted on the right or left side of the door (see photo below). The other end of the spring is fitted with an adjustment collar that attaches to the shaft with one or more large set screws.
What do garage door torsion springs do?
If your garage door spring is broken, your garage door becomes very difficult to lift. Why? At each end of the shaft above the door there are round cable drums (see photo to the right). Lift cables are attached to those drums and wrap or unwrap from around the drum as the garage door goes up or down.
The lift cables run from the cable drums along the side of the garage door to the bottom of the door where they attach to the lift bracket. The twisting force of the garage door spring turns the shaft and the cable drum, puts tension on the cables and helps lift the garage door.
Depending on the size and type of your garage door, you may have one torsion spring or two mounted to the shaft above your door. Some are mounted in the center and some are mounted on the side, but they all do the same thing. They twist and help lift the door. Consequently, if the spring breaks, your garage door becomes very hard to lift.
What should you do if your torsion spring breaks?
If you are a die-hard do-it-yourselfer, you may choose to replace the spring yourself, although it doesn’t make my list of DIY tasks. I have rebuilt my own house, replaced all of the plumbing, electrical wiring, much of the framing and drywall, and installed new wood floors and cabinets, but I don’t like garage door torsion springs. Anything wound up that tight just bothers me. Plus, I would rather pay someone to do this job for me and spend my time rebuilding my barn.
If you want to see how it is done, take a look at these instructions. Frankly, I’d rather not spend the afternoon trying to learn a new skill that I may use once per decade. I would rather get a referral to a reputable garage door repair company and let them do the job. But that’s just me.
What does it cost to replace garage door torsion springs?
If you do it yourself, you can buy replacement springs for $15-$30 each, plus shipping. If you pay a contractor to do the job for you, expect to pay another $75 to $100 for the labor. The total approximate cost can run from $125 to $225, depending on whether you have one or two springs replaced.
Be certain you call around for price comparisons before making a hiring decision. Getting a referral from your friend, neighbor, or even your trusted real estate agent is a great way to go. Some unscrupulous companies may charge several hundred dollars for this job, which takes about an hour for them to complete.
If you don’t want to spend 20 years in college to become a neurosurgeon, you might consider garage door repair. Some companies believe their one hour of repair work is worth about the same as that of a surgeon. Caveat emptor…”Let the buyer beware!”
How long do garage door torsion springs last?
Depending on the size and weight of your door, a torsion spring may last from 3 or 4 years to 20 years or more. If a company tells you their springs have a lifetime warranty, you may end up paying a lot more for their service.
A garage door spring won’t last forever. Companies offering a lifetime warranty are banking on your not staying in the same home forever, and they charge extra for their work just to be certain they are covered if you do.
Why is this job so dangerous?
Some garage door torsion springs are easier than others to replace. One significant danger comes from having cone holes with inconsistent sizes or a winding bar that doesn’t fit in the holes properly.
What’s a cone hole? At the end of the torsion spring there is a part called the winding cone. There are shallow holes or “slots” in the winding cone into which a winding bar is placed to help you turn the spring to tighten or loosen it. When you are using a winding bar to tighten the spring, the bar may slip out and cause a sudden release of the spring’s tension. This is when injuries occur.
Are there any other options?
If you are installing a new garage door or replacing your current one, you might consider the EZ-SET® Spring System from Clopay. The EZ-SET® system is available for both types of garage door spring. Whether you have a torsion spring or extension spring lifting system, the spring tension on either can be set with a standard 3/8″ drill.
According to Clopay, specialty tools are not needed and this alternative system makes a difficult and dangerous job easier and safer for do-it-yourselfers. The EZ-SET® Spring System is a standard feature on some Clopay garage doors but you should ask your dealer to be certain. The Home Depot carries Clopay doors and might be a great place to ask a few more questions and learn about this alternative spring system.
Think carefully before you subject yourself to the time commitment and potential injury of replacing a garage door torsion spring. For the money, I am all for hiring a professional to do the job for me. If you choose to do it yourself, take safety precautions and don’t get in a hurry.