It’s a double-edge sword to replace a garage door torsion spring. Depending on your location, choosing to do this job yourself could save you up to $200—or more. On the other hand, it’s dangerous, and if you don’t use the correct tools and neglect to follow the correct safety procedures, you could be spending what you’re “saving” on a trip to the ER. But don’t get discouraged—follow the instructions, be mindful, and be safe.
Garage Door Torsion Spring Replacement
First, it’s not a bad idea to get a few professional quotes on replacing your torsion springs. The cost will depend on where you live and in some cases, it might be more cost-effective and easier to have a professional do the job. Remember, this project will take you a few hours, so it becomes a matter of how valuable your time is compared to the cost of hiring a professional.
Materials and Tools
If you decide to take on this project yourself, begin by getting a rough measurement of your spring’s length and diameter and the width and height of your garage door. Here are the tools and materials you’ll need for your project:
- Safety gear: glasses & leather gloves
- Adjustable wrench & wrench set
- Proper winding bars
- Cordless drill
- Socket/ratchet set
- Locking pliers
- Bottom brackets
- Double-life torsion springs (will provide more years of service and only cost a little more)
- Lift cables
Lock down the garage door. Use your locking pliers or your C-clamp to clamp on the track, just above one of the garage door rollers. Securing this part of the track will stop the garage door from springing upward and hurting you while you’re working. Unplug the garage door opener so you can begin safely working.
It’s time to unwind the torsion spring, but safety first: wear your eye protection and leather gloves. Use a winding bar of professional grade to do the job and don’t settle for anything less like a screwdriver, pin punches, or pliers because your chances of an accident occurring will dramatically increase.
Never position your ladder in front of the torsion spring while you’re winding and unwinding them. Make sure the garage door is not connected to power.
The Don’ts of Replacing a Torsion Spring
- Don’t use tools like a screwdriver or pin punchers to wind or unwind the spring
- Never place a ladder in front of the spring when winding or unwinding it
- Don’t have your garage opener hooked up to power
- Never test the garage door while you’re on the ladder
- Never work on springs without eye protection and gloves
Insert the winding bar into the winding cone’s hole at the bottom of the in-tact spring. You’ll have to hold the bar in place to loosen the two screws, which will demand some strength on your part. Take your second winding bar and insert it into the hole at a 9 o’clock position. Next, interchange your bars to unwind the spring a quarter turn at a time.
Now you’ll remove the spring from its center bracket and take out the nuts and bolts. Slide the springs toward the brackets. Use your locking pliers or C-clamp on the central bracket to secure the torsion cylinder in the bracket while you loosen the setscrews on both of the cable drums. Disconnect the cables. Slide the tube to remove the drum. Take off the old torsion spring from its tube.
It’s time for your replacement parts. You’ll need to determine the spring’s wind direction, sometimes called its “hand”. When the end of the spring points up to the right, it’s a right-hand wind. If the end is pointing up on the left, it’s a left-hand wind. If your garage door has two tension springs, it will always have both hand directions.
Many hardware stores won’t have all the replacement parts you’ll need so you might have to resort to some online shopping (garage door companies typically don’t sell parts to end users, either). You might need to replace bottom brackets, which cost around $15 for a set, or you may need new cables.
High-quality cables run about $12 per set. The torsion springs themselves cost $40-$65 per spring. Consider upgrading to the double-life replacement springs to get just that—double the service life.
Installing Your New Parts
Let’s install your new parts. Begin by sliding the new torsion spring onto your torsion tube. Install your cable drum once again and insert the bar into the bracket. Next, install a new center bearing. Insert your torsion tube onto the center bracket while installing your other replacement spring, pushing the bearing onto the immobile cone. Reinstall your drum, and then connect the cones to the center bracket.
If you’ve purchased new rollers, lift cables, and bottom brackets, you’ll install them now. Snap the lift cable in place into your new bottom bracket and position your new roller. Next, thread your lift cables/garage door wiring between your rollers and the doorjamb, sliding the cable stop through the designated place on the drum.
Lock your torsion tube into place with locking pliers so you can safely tighten the drums, pulling the cable taunt, then screwing in the setscrews. Achieve equal tension on both sides. Use your winding bar to quarter turn your spring to the manufacturer’s recommended number of turns.
Once it’s fully wound, tap the winding bar to stretch the spring. Then, tighten the screws. Finally, lubricate your new springs with garage door lube spray, wiping off the excess.
Give Your Door a Test
Last but not least, give your door the garage door tension test. Removing your tools from the torsion tube, track, and everywhere else, lift your door off the ground by hand. If you’re successful, the door shouldn’t budge, staying in place once you’ve let go. If it falls, you’ll know to add a quarter turn to both springs…or to call for professional back up.