What You'll Need To Know About Replacing Your Garage Door's Torsion Springs

Nearly every garage door relies on a set of extension springs or torsion springs to help counteract the weight of the doors as they're opened and closed. These springs normally require replacement every few years due to age and overall wear and tear. While it's relatively easy to replace extension springs, replacing torsion springs is a job that's a bit tougher for most do-it-yourself enthusiasts.

If you want to replace those torsion springs on your own, here are a few things you'll need to know before you get started.

Understanding the Safety Risks

When you decide to replace your own torsion springs, you should also be aware of the inherent safety risks that are involved. The most important fact to keep in mind is that the torsion spring is tightly wound and, as a result, carries a vast amount of tension. While this allows the spring to weld a large amount of torque to help shoulder the door's weight, this also presents a serious hazard to anyone attempting to remove and replace the spring.

Failure to adhere to the correct removal and installation procedures could cause the torsion spring to violently unwind on its own, leading to serious injuries. Fortunately, you can avoid these injuries simply by following the safety precautions below, as well as carefully following the instructions provided with your replacement torsion springs.

How to Protect Yourself

As mentioned above, there are plenty of safety precautions you should follow as you replace your garage door's torsion springs:

  • If you need to use a step ladder or platform to install the torsion spring, make sure it's sturdy, level and free of any defects. Resist the temptation to improvise and use potentially unstable items for a makeshift platform (including paint cans, books and chairs).
  • Always use winding bars when dealing with torsion springs. Never use screwdrivers or other makeshift substitutes for winding and unwinding the torsion springs, as these devices can slip and allow the spring to violently unwind and even break. The winding bars themselves should be a half-inch in diameter and 18 inches in length.
  • When winding the torsion spring, always stand off to the side of the winding bars away from the torsion spring. Always work with the assumption that the torsion spring will break or that the bars will slip as the spring is being wound or unwound.
  • Keep a firm grasp on the outermost portion of the winding bar. The last thing you need is for your grip to slip while turning the winding cone.
  • Always keep one winding bar firmly inserted into the torsion spring's winding cone as you wind or unwind the cone. All movements should be made in quarter-turns to prevent slippage. When you're done, make sure the set screw is firmly inserted into the winding cone before removing the winding bars.

These steps can help minimize the possibility of serious injury when removing and reinstalling torsion springs.

When Professional Help is Needed

Tackling torsion spring replacement as a DIY project can help you save both time and money on a professional installation. However, there are plenty of cases where it's best to leave the job up to the professionals. For instance, you might not want to tackle those torsion springs if you're not feeling comfortable with the task or if there's another underlying problem that would make a torsion spring removal more difficult.

It's also advisable to have a professional step in if you encounter a problem during torsion spring removal. By watching your contractor work towards a reliable and safe solution, you may even learn a few things that you can apply towards your next stab at residential garage door repair