A DIY Guide to Replacing Your Garage-Door Spring

by Team HomeServe
garage door opener

Garage door won’t open? Or does it slam shut as soon as you get it open? You may have a broken spring. Springs are essential for operating most modern garage doors. If your spring breaks, you may find yourself shut out of your garage.

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Residential garage-door springs come in two varieties: torsion and extension. Follow these step-by-step guides to identify what type you have and replace the broken spring.

Can I Replace a Broken Garage-Door Spring Myself?

You may be able to install garage-door springs yourself, especially if you have experience with similar home improvement projects. However, this is a difficult task compared to many other home repairs, and it comes with a number of hazards.

Safety Considerations

Replacing garage-door springs can be dangerous, so keep safety in mind if you decide to tackle this repair yourself. Garage doors are heavy and expensive. Improperly installed springs or other parts can make the door fall, which can damage the door or cause injuries.

The springs themselves — especially torsion springs — are dangerous if handled improperly. These springs are under high pressure, and they can snap or rapidly unwind if damaged or mishandled. Garage-door spring accidents can cause serious injuries, including broken bones and eye injuries. Severe incidents can cause lost limbs or even death.

Be sure to read tutorials and the manufacturer’s instructions before you do this task yourself. If you aren't confident that you can do the job safely, call a professional. Many experts say only professionals should install torsion springs.

How Do You Replace a Broken Garage-Door Spring?

The replacement process varies based on whether your garage door has extension springs or torsion springs. Determine which type you have, then replace it using these step-by-step instructions as a guide:

garage door spring

How to Replace an Extension Spring

The extension spring runs parallel to the garage door's tracks. These springs stretch out when the door closes and compress when the door opens. They also tend to be easier and safer to replace than torsion springs.

First, figure out what kind of extension spring you need. There are three kinds of extension springs:

  • Open-looped extension springs
  • Double-looped extension springs
  • Clipped-end extension springs

Purchase an extension spring that is the same type as the one you are replacing. Make sure it’s made for the weight of your garage door. Springs are color-coded to handle specific garage door weights. Installing the correct spring ensures the door will operate properly.

The finer details of installing a new extension spring depend on what kind of garage door you have and the brand of the spring. Review your garage door's manual and any manufacturer's instructions before starting the installation.

The general steps for replacing an extension spring are as follows:

  1. Open the garage door to release the stored tension in the spring. Clamp the spring in place.
  2. Disconnect the garage-door opener to avoid accidental activation.
  3. Use a piece of tape to mark where the pulley is connected. You'll need to reinstall it in the same place later.
  4. Disconnect the spring from the track bracket and pulley.
  5. Remove the safety cable from the track bracket. Unthread the cable and remove the old spring.
  6. Thread the safety cable through the new spring and attach the spring to the track bracket.
  7. Reattach the safety cable and the pulley. Be careful to keep the cable away from the pulley. Reinstall the pulley at the tape mark.
  8. Remove the clamps and reconnect your door opener.

You should now be able to open and close the door all the way, and it shouldn't close too quickly. If the door doesn't close correctly, adjust the pulley or spring hardware.

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Replacing Torsion Springs

Torsion springs are located above the garage door when it's closed. Like extension springs, torsion springs store energy to help open heavy garage doors. However, they work by compressing when the door is closed and unwinding to push the door open again. Most garage doors have a left and right torsion spring that meet in the center of the door, but your door may have anywhere from one to four torsion springs. You'll usually need to replace all the springs at the same time to ensure that force is applied evenly to the garage door.

Compressed torsion springs are under an extreme amount of tension. You must replace them while the door is closed and the spring is compressed, making this a dangerous home improvement project. If you aren't familiar with the parts of a garage door or the mechanics behind how they work, hire a professional to replace torsion springs. Don't take on a home repair project unless you can do it safely.

Be sure to read any and all manuals and manufacturer's instructions before attempting to replace a torsion spring as each brand is different. Follow these general steps to replace a torsion spring:

  1. Close the garage door and clamp it to its tracks. The clamps need to keep the door closed even as the torsion spring unwinds.
  2. Insert a winding bar into the winding cone at the end of the torsion spring. Keep your head away from the winding bar at all times in case the torsion spring suddenly unwinds. The winding bar needs to fit snugly but must go all the way to the center of the winding cone. You can test the spring force by winding it tighter by one-quarter of a turn and then undoing it.
  3. Once you're confident that you inserted the winding bar securely and can handle the force of the spring, loosen the set screws on the winding cone.
  4. Lower the winding bar until it's against the garage door, then insert a second winding bar into the next hold in the winding cone.
  5. Remove the first winding bar and lower the second winding bar to the garage door. Insert the first winding bar into the next hole in the cone. Repeat this process until there's no more tension in the spring. It's imperative to keep one winding bar securely inserted in the cone at all times to avoid rapid unwinding.
  6. Uninstall the spring, cables and cable drums.
  7. Repeat the above steps for the torsion spring(s) on the other side of the door.
  8. Place the new spring on the tube with its stationary cone toward the center bracket of the garage door.
  9. Reinstall the cable drum and center bearing.
  10. Install the other spring and attach the stationary cones.
  11. Thread the cables and tighten the cable drums making sure that both sides are even.
  12. Use the winding bar to tighten the new spring. Always make sure there is one winding bar in the winding cone. Consult the manufacturer's instructions for how much to compress the spring. Tighten the set screws. Repeat for the other spring.
  13. Lubricate the springs. Remove the clamps and test the garage door.

Always keep your face and body parts away from areas where they could be injured if the spring rapidly unwinds. The same goes for loose clothing. Serious injuries can occur if a winding bar slips loose or if the spring breaks. Torsion springs that are already damaged or in poor condition are especially hazardous since they are more likely to break during the unwinding process.

How Long Does It Take to Replace a Garage Door Spring?

A person with the right tools, parts and experience can replace a garage door spring in about one hour. However, this estimate doesn't include time to study instructions or purchase parts.

You must purchase a spring of the correct type and size, and getting the necessary tools may be tricky. For example, some older torsion springs require a winding bar that's just slightly smaller than the current standard. If you have one of these springs, you'll need to grind down a larger winding bar to fit.

Should I Call a Professional?

Replacing the spring yourself can save some money, especially if you already have the necessary tools. The springs themselves usually cost around $30 to $100. If you don't feel confident about replacing the spring, you should consider hiring a professional. Professional repairs may not cost much more than the price of materials. A botched DIY spring replacement can end up damaging the garage door — or DIYer.

Since we’re all home now more than ever, being prepared for unexpected home repairs with a plan from HomeServe is important. Having a plan in place gives you peace of mind knowing that you can simply call our 24/7 repair hotline for covered breakdowns. See what plans are available in your neighborhood.