When it comes to heavy lifting, a garage door spring is one of the harder-working parts of a house. The average single-wide garage door weighs more than 100 lbs. And you bet the garage door spring is working hard for your door.
What Is A Garage Door Spring?
Garage door springs help raise the heavy door’s weight when opening. They let you hoist the door by hand, even if you aren’t an Olympic power lifter.
Even electric garage door openers rely on garage door springs. An opener may not work or may wear out prematurely if the springs are not working properly.
If the garage door spring is broken, the door could go off track. It could even fall while being lifted or lowered. This could cause damage or injury.
Garage door springs are generally reliable. A typical spring can help raise the door 10,000 times before weakening or breaking. At three raises a day, that’s about 10 years.
But garage door springs eventually wear out. When that happens, they need to be replaced.
Check your door springs periodically. If you see signs of weakness or breakage, consider replacing them.
Signs Of A Wear
If a garage door spring breaks while you are anywhere nearby, you will probably hear a loud bang. If you don’t hear it break, you will notice the door is much harder to raise by hand.
If you are using an electric garage door opener, the door may go up very slowly, or may not open at all.
Another sign of wear is uneven lifting. When the garage door is partially open, it may appear lower on one side.
If your garage door spring is giving these signs, it may be broken or worn out, and needs replacement.
Types of Garage Door Springs
You can replace a broken garage door spring yourself. Whether or not you want to attempt the job depends on how handy you are.
It also can depend on the type of garage door spring you have. There are two main types:
These are the most common type. Torsion springs are located horizontally above the door. You have to lower the door to see the torsion spring clearly.
Your door probably has one or two torsion springs. The springs are mounted to a wooden plate attached to the garage.
Unlike ordinary springs that work by stretching, torsion springs work by winding and unwinding. As the door goes down, it winds the torsion spring tighter. As the door goes up, the spring unwinds, helping lift the door.
These are above the door on the sides, along the tracks that guide the wheels.
Extension springs work like most springs, by stretching. When the door is down, the springs are stretched. As the door is raised, the springs contract, helping lift the weight.
Replacing Garage Door Springs
You can hire a professional to do replace a broken door spring. However, that will likely cost hundreds of dollars.
If you’re pretty handy, you can replace them yourself. Replacing garage door springs is different from some do-it-yourself jobs, however.
The springs are powerful and under a lot of tension. If you don’t properly release tension before working on the spring, you could be injured.
It’s important to follow directions carefully when replacing garage door springs. If you don’t feel comfortable doing the job, you may want to hire a professional.
You also need the proper tools. Most tools you’ll need are common items such as wrenches, vise grips, and the like.
However, you have to use special bars called torsion bars to release and apply tension to torsion springs.
Don’t attempt to use something else, such as a screwdriver. It could slip or break and cause a dangerous situation. In fact, here’s what can happen if you make a mistake, courtesy of Garage Door Genius.
Where to Buy Garage Door Springs
You can buy replacement springs for prices ranging from twenty to a few hundred dollars. The price depends on the type and size of your spring.
Some sellers offer kits for common spring replacements around $100. These include replacement cables and other items including any needed special tools such as torsion bars.
Sources for garage door springs include:
- Online retailers specializing in garage door parts
- Big-box retailers like Home Depot
- Local garage door service companies
If you order a garage door spring, it is important to measure the spring correctly. There are many different sizes. You measure torsion and expansion springs differently.
Measure a Torsion Garage Door Spring
It takes three measurements to get the right size torsion spring. These are length, inner diameter and wire size.
When the spring is detensioned and removed from the door, take your measurements:
- Length: Measure the spring end to end.
- Inside diameter: Use a pair of calipers or ruler to measure the inside diameter of the spring.
- Wire size: Count 20 coils of wire. Measure the distance with a ruler. Refer to a chart giving the size of the wire based on this. The retailer can provide you with the chart.
Caution: Only attempt to measure a spring that is unwound and removed from the mechanism. Use only special torsion bars to properly release tension on the spring.
Measuring Extension Door Springs
Extension springs are rated by the weight of the door they can lift. Color codes on the ends of the springs give the weight-lifting capacity. You also need to know the length of the spring. To do this:
- Turn off power to the garage door opener. This will keep anyone from accidentally lowering the door while you are measuring. Now raise the door so the spring is relaxed.
- Measure the relaxed spring end to end. Most 7-foot doors have a 25-inch spring. Eight-foot doors typically use a 27-inch spring.
- Order the new one. If you’re not that handy, a professional can do the replacement for a modest price.
Should You Replace Garage Door Springs?
Whether you plan to replace it yourself or hire a pro, watch out for broken or worn-out garage door springs. This can keep your door operating efficiently and safely. And yes, you should definitely replace garage door springs! Whichever route you decide, replacing them will not only increase your safety, but will reduce the hassle of a garage door that won’t open.