Garage Door Springs

How a Standard Garage Door Torsion Spring Works

Garage Door Springs are one of the most important parts of a garage door system. They are responsible for lifting the entire weight of the garage door. People often confuse the garage door openers function with what the springs do. The garage door opener is responsible for guiding the garage door to the open and close position, not to lift the door!

A standard garage door spring consists of three main parts, an anchor cone, a winder cone and the spring coils. The anchor cone is fastened in one end of the coils and the winder cone in the other. The anchor cone attaches to the bearing plate and does not move. The winder end has four holes and two set screws. These holes are used to wind the spring up using proper winding bars. The two set screws are used to hold the torque after winding the spring. There is a specified amount of turns that are required to balance and lift the garage door. This is a calculated equation that involves the drum diameter and the height of the door.

The torque from the spring is applied to the shaft, which is the metal rod that goes horizontally through the springs, drums, and bearing plates. The torque from the springs and shaft transfers to the cable drums. These drums are on either end of the shaft, butted up to the bearing plates. The cables then come off the drum (the cables are attached to the drum using a fitting) and go down and attach to the bottom fixture using a loop in the cable.

How It Works

As the door is opening the springs actually unwind. As the springs unwind they lose their torque or lifting power. Simultaneously the door sections are going from the vertical position into the horizontal track. This makes the door less heavy as it goes up because the weight of the sections that go into the horizontal are no longer affected by the gravitational pull. Therefore when the door is halfway, the springs are half wound. Also when the door is fully open, the springs are almost all the way unwound except with just enough tension to keep the cables tight.

When a custom garage door spring is calculated properly, it should take very minimal effort to manually use the door. Likewise, it should take little effort for the garage door opener to operate the door. Generally, with the electric opener disengaged, the door should stay half open by itself. Furthermore, a perfectly calculated spring will hold a garage door in any position off the floor.

Other Popular Types of Garage Door Springs

The spring or springs on a garage door can come in a few different styles depending on the manufacturer and or the application. They all accomplish the same goal; to counter-balance the weight of the garage door. The other common springs include:

Stretch Springs

Another popular spring system is the stretch spring. The stretch springs are mounted aside the horizontal angles using a combination of pulleys and anchors. These springs are set by stretching the spring while the door is in the open position allowing the installer to do so using his or her hands.

 Wayne-Dalton Torquemaster Springs

Another popular spring system is the Wayne-Dalton Torque Master spring system. This system is specific to Wayne-Dalton garage doors. There are two versions of this hardware: Torque Master and Torque Master Plus. These are similar to the torsion spring but have a couple of differences.
• The springs are in a tube
• They are wound up using either a drill or a ratchet
These two styles are most popular with the DIY homeowner because they do not require a professional door technician to wind the spring.

Why A Garage Door Spring Breaks

Because the spring on the garage door is always under extreme tension it will eventually break. Garage door springs only last a certain amount of cycles. There is no time limit on how long a garage door spring will last. On average the garage door spring will last 10 000 to 15 000 cycles. That means the garage door will go up and down 10 000 to 15 000 times. If you have a broken garage door spring you will need to replace it if you want to use your garage door. It’s always wise to contact a professional garage door company to replace garage door springs.

Replace Both Torsion Springs?

If you have two torsion springs on your door, you should replace both of them. Most doors have springs with the same cycle life rating. In other words, when one spring breaks, the other spring will probably break before too much longer. Since you will be going through the trouble of changing one torsion spring, it is usually better to change your second spring as well. If you paying a professional garage door technician, its definitely more cost-efficient to replace the second spring as the difference in price is just the cost of the spring.


How To Tell If A Garage Door Spring Is Broken?

Here are some different ways to determine whether you have a door with a broken spring. 

  • Gap In Between The Spring Coils

First, you can see a gap in between the spring coils. Because the spring is stretched as it is wound, when the spring breaks, it will leave a gap as the two sides retract back to their original position. This means you will be able to see the safe in between the two sides of the spring.

  • Garage Door Won’t Open

Secondly, when pressing the opener button on the wall to open the door, the garage door won’t open. If your garage door won’t open, that’s because the opener’s force safety feature is telling the opener that the door is too heavy. This is a good thing. The opener is designed and set up to detect broken springs.

  • Two ‘“Broken” Garage Door Cables

Lastly, if you have a single garage door with one spring when the spring breaks, the two cables come loose. This does not mean they are broken though. They hang loosely because there is no tension left on them. But many people mistake the door not opening due to “broken cables.”

How To Open a Garage Door With a Broken Spring?

If you must open the door yourself there is a way to do so. It will take a couple of physically fit individuals to do it.

  1. Pull the opener manual disconnect rope if there is an opener attached. This will allow you to bypass the motor
  2. Safely lift the door at the same time with equal timing so the door stays in balance and doesn’t bind
  3. Once it is in the open position, clamp the door open so it can’t fall down. 
  4. After that, slowly lower the door until it is on the ground. Make sure that you are never under the door, even your toes. If the door fell by accident you could possibly break your foot.

How Much Does Garage Door Spring Repair Cost?

The cost to replace a spring can vary depending on whether you do it yourself or have a professional do it for you. DIY spring repair will only cost you the price of the spring. Depending on the size it can be between $60 to $100 dollars per spring.

Professional door companies will install a new garage door spring for around $180 to $250. This will be more if there is more than one spring. 

How To Measure Garage Door Torsion Springs?

Measuring a spring is simple. All you need is a tape measure, pen, and a piece of paper. Here are the three critical measurements that are required to replace the spring.

  1. Measure The Length of The Spring

           You need to measure the length of the coils of the spring. This does not include the anchor cone or the winding end cone. Also, you need to make sure that you don’t measure the gap in between the two pieces. 

  1. Measure The Inner Diameter

The easiest way to find the inner diameter is to have the spring off the door shaft. If you do it on the shaft it’s a bit trickier but still fairly easy. Most springs inner diameters are 1 ¾ or 2”. It is possible to have 2 ⅝ as well but very unlikely.

  1. Measure The Wire Size

There are many different wire sizes. Using your tape measure, count 10 of the coils and write down that measurement. Then, count 20 coils and write that measurement down. If the first measurement is half of the second, you have measured correctly.

4 thoughts on “Garage Door Springs”

  1. I have had my garage door spring break recently. The garage door company repaired it temporarily using a clamp. We have ordered a new door and the installation won’t occur for another three weeks. Generally, will the clamp hold until then?

    • Hi Louis,
      Yes, the clamp will likely hold for 3 weeks.The spring wire is fatigued and that’s why it broke. So it will break again in another spot if left long enough. You should be ok for that amount of time though.


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