Replacing old garage door springs is the #1 factor that DASMA (Door and Access Systems Manufacturers Association International) lists on its garage safety data sheet.
This makes a lot of sense because it’s also the #1 limiting factor on residential door lifespan. Like roofs, you should expect your garage doors to hold their integrity for about 25 years.
Engineers design residential garage doors to open only 1,500 cycles per year, but most people only use 1,000 cycles per year on average. Torsion springs are only rated to last 10,000 cycles. This means it’s a job you should only need to do twice.
1.Torsion or Extension? Check Your Spring Type
Garage door springs come in two main flavors. These two types of springs work in very different ways and you should never use them incorrectly.
- Torsion springs
- Extension springs
When we think of the average spring it’s usually the ones we compress. Springs also work by extending or twisting them out of their normal shape. springs exert force to oppose deformation in an attempt to go back to normal.
If you’re having a hard time sorting through the various strengths types and models of springs, looking at suppliers for DIYers like at https://diy-garage-door-parts.com/ can help. Supply lists made for DIYers cater to non-professionals and often make it easy to pick the right part you need.
2.Get the Right Tools
Garage door springs are nothing to play around with. If you use the wrong tools or use them incorrectly, you could be in for a world of hurt.
Make sure you have everything on this list of tools before you start working.
- Safety glasses
- Leather gloves
- Adjustable wrench
- Cordless drill
- Locking pliers
- Winding bars
- Wrench set
- Socket or ratchet set
Some of the most important tools are those surrounding your safety. That means the gloves, glasses, locking pliers, and actual winding bars.
Many DIYers try to make their own winding bars and get hurt using them in the process. Manufacturers make winding bars for the purpose of unwinding and winding torsion springs safely.
Rebar or some other makeshift winding bar doesn’t make the grade.
3.Check if the Garage Door Spring Is Broken
There are a number of ways to guess if you have a broken spring or not. If you have broken garage door springs, these are situations you’ll run into.
- The garage door won’t open at all
- The automatic garage door opener strains
- The door is heavier than usual or difficult to open it manually
- The door rises slower than normal
The door will usually continue functioning — even if it doesn’t function well — until both springs break completely.
If you suspect you have a broken spring, don’t try to hit it with a hammer or touch it with bare hands. If a torsion spring breaks, it will spin until there’s no tension. Extension springs should have a metal cable strung through them to prevent it from whipping around when it breaks, but it isn’t a guarantee.
Visual signs of wear or breakage are that they look loose, there are gaps or free movement with a clean break, or sagging.
4.Double Check the Size of Your Spring
Different measurements of your garage door springs will determine their strength. Wire diameter, inside diameter, and length of the spring is the major factors to consider.
If you’ve got your broken spring taken off already, get out a tape measure and measure across 20 coils. Take the distance you’ve measured and divide by 20.
It’s very important to be as precise as possible. Rounding off or being careless with measuring by even fractions of an inch can mean ordering the wrong spring sizes. There’s a stamp on the cone that attaches to the spring that tells you the inside diameter.
You may see something like P-200 or in fractional inches like 1 3/4″.
It’s important to say that measuring the overall length can only be done on a spring that isn’t under tension or load. If your spring is broken then you’ll need to match up the break to the other half of the spring.
At this point, an old spring has opened and closed for several thousand cycles, and that means its original length may have changed a little. If you’re off by a fraction of an inch or so, it won’t be too important.
Extension Spring Measurement
Most residential garage doors are eight or seven feet tall. For eight-foot doors, extension springs are usually 27-inch springs. Seven-foot doors are usually 25-inch springs.
These springs also must be measured without tension. That means the door must be opened all the way.
To get the weight of the spring, you’ll have to know the weight of your door. If you already know the weight of your door, this makes it easy. Otherwise, you’ll need to weigh your door yourself.
It’s best to get help to do this since garage doors can be in excess of 200 lbs. Setting it on a scale, you can estimate the weight of the door. When you do this, make sure both extension springs are not attached.
5.Left-handed and Right-handed Winding
Finally, you’ll need to know if it’s a left-hand or right-hand wound.
The way you can do this is by looking at the top of the spring where it starts to coil. Looking down the top of the spring, you can see if it coils clockwise or counterclockwise.
Clockwise winding means it’s right-hand wound, and counter-clockwise means it’s left-hand wound.
You should have one of each.
Winding Down: Garage Door Springs
Garage door springs are never simple and always a pain to work on. You’ll be happy to know that you’ll only need to replace them twice on average, during the life of the garage door.
On the other hand, it’s always satisfying to DIY a home repair — as long as it’s done safely.
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