This article is divided into two parts. The first part talks about how to fix a broken garage door cable, while the second part talks about how to fix a broken garage door spring.
Each part will troubleshoot some problems that you may encounter with your garage door and how can you fix them on your own.
Garage Door Spring
This first half of the article is going to guide you through the steps you have to take so that you can fix a broken garage door spring. But before we get to that, there are still a few things you need to know about the tension spring in a garage door.
One of the most obvious benefits to doing this repair by yourself is that you cut costs and save yourself about $200 worth of repair costs, but it also depends on the local rates in your area.
Before you decide to do this yourself, get estimates from local companies that offer repair services for broken garage doors. Make sure you’re dedicated to spending a few hours DIY-ing this repair because it might take a while.
You can repair a garage door spring by yourself, but you will have to exercise caution and wear the necessary gear to ensure your safety. Prevention is better than cure, especially when you’re dealing with a spring that is under a lot of pressure.
What does a torsion spring do?
A garage door tension spring allows you to lift the heavy garage door. It provides a lifting force by placing itself under tremendous pressure. Technically, it exerts a twisting force on a torsion tube.
It’s the drums that are at the end of the torsion tube that reel in the cables that are connected to the door. One of the most common problems in garage door repairs is a broken spring or a broken cable.
If you have a relatively small garage door, you will find that you only have one spring instead of two.
What are the different types of garage door springs?
There are two main types of garage door springs. Both of them help you lift the garage door by acting as a counterbalance to ensure a smooth and balanced opening and closing of the door:
Extension springs are often located above the garage door track, which runs horizontally and perpendicular to the door. They are usually skinny springs that store energy through stretching and extending whenever the door moves.
There are three kinds of extension springs:
These are known as the weakest type of extension spring because they rely greatly on an open wire. If the open wire at the end breaks, then you need to replace the entire thing.
Double-looped extension springs are definitely better than the open-looped springs because it has two coils found by the spring’s end. These coils connect the springs to the eyebolt and pulley.
These springs are the strongest out of all the extension springs. You may find them on garage doors that weigh more than 200 pounds.
Extension springs can easily be DIY-ed. As long as you have the basic knowledge necessary about garage doors, then this should be a great starting point for beginners.
These are the most common type of springs and are generally located above the door, running horizontal across the top of the door. They are run through a metal shaft and are generally broad in size.
There are four types of torsion springs:
- Steel rolling-door
These are often found in doors that aren’t that heavy. You usually only need one of these springs, so they are commonly used by garage doors in residential areas.
Just like the standard torsion springs, the early-set torsion springs are placed in the middle of the torsion shaft.
These are more commonly found in industrial or commercial buildings. A torsion barrel contains these springs to ensure additional safety.
These kinds of springs are stabilized in place by a winding cone that is located on either end of the torsion rods. Torque-master springs are also enclosed in a torsion shaft.
Torsion springs are a more serious DIY project compared to extension springs. Injuries can range from minor to severe, and in worst-case scenarios, a trip to the emergency room is necessary.
We recommend torsion spring replacements only for professionals or people who have experience in doing these kinds of repairs.
Tools you’re going to need
Here is a list of the tools you’re going to need when fixing a broken garage door spring:
- Adjustable wrench
- Cordless drill
- Leather gloves
- Locking pliers
- Safety glasses
- Winding bars
- Wrench set
- Ratchet/socket set
Included in this list are the main safety equipment that you have to wear. Mainly the leather gloves and safety glasses. Ensure you have these materials beforehand and keep them within easy reach once you get started with the repair.
Safety reminders before starting the process
Here are a few reminders you need to take note of before starting with the broken garage door spring repair:
- Only use winding bars on torsion springs
- Never put your ladder in front of the spring cones
- Disconnect the garage door from all power sources
- Keep your safety gear on the entire time
- Get off the ladder before testing the door
It may feel tempting to use a screwdriver, pair of pliers, or pin punches when you’re either winding or unwinding a spring, but you should not be doing this because it is one of the quickest ways to end up in the emergency room.
Always stay beside the ends of the spring cones so that you aren’t in front of them as they wind or unwind. Putting yourself directly in front of them can cause serious damage if the springs accidentally snap.
If you’re on a ladder, then this unprecedented snap could send you falling off the ladder because you lose your balance.
If your garage door is hooked up to an emergency power source like a backup generator, disconnect it from that too. It may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised what people can forget when they’re preparing for a garage door repair.
Springs can unwind or snap at any given moment, especially damaged ones. You never know when it’s going to happen, so it’s best to keep yourself safe all the time and keep your gear on while you’re in the garage.
Take those few steps down the ladder and relocate it somewhere safer before you decide to test out the doors after the repair. Make sure you are not on it and that the ladder is safely away from the doors before doing a test.
How to replace a broken garage door spring
- Secure the door
- Use a winding bar to loosen the spring that isn’t broken
- Use two winding bars to unwind the unbroken spring
- Remove the bolts and nuts and detach the springs from the bracket in the centre
- Lock in the torsion tube
- Remove the broken spring
- Replace the broken pieces and purchase replacement parts
Before starting your repair, pull the cord and unplug the opener of the garage door. Then, in a spot just a little above the rollers, clamp either a pair of locking pliers or a C-clamp to the track.
This is a safety precaution that stops the door from going up and harming you while you’re winding the replacement springs.
Locate the good (unbroken) spring in your garage door. Place a winding bar inside of the bottom holes of the winding cone. Hold it in place as you unfasten the setscrews that are keeping the spring in place.
Make sure you’re holding on to the winding bar tightly because as the screws are released, the spring is going to push with some powerful torque.
Next, locate the broken spring on your garage door. Do the same thing you did in the previous step by placing the first winding bar inside one of the bottom holes of the winding cone and the other winding bar in the hole that’s facing you.
This hole is usually at what you would call the 9 o’clock position. Once that’s locked into place, you can remove the first winding bar and wind the spring ¼ of the way using the other winding bar.
The winding bar that was initially in the 9 o’clock position should be at the 6 o’clock position, so place the other winding bar in the new hole that’s in the 9 o’clock position, release the winding bar at the bottom, and repeat the process until you can remove the spring.
Now that you’ve unwound the strings, remove the bolts and nuts that are keeping the spring cones connected to the centre bracket. Slide these springs towards the end.
You’re going to need either a C-clamp or locking pliers. Attach it to the centre bracket so that the torsion tube stays inside it. Afterwards, unfasten the setscrews found on either side and remove the cable drums and detach the lift cables.
Go to the garage door’s left side. Move the torsion tube to the opposite side (right) and take the cable drum out. Once you’ve done that, slide the broken spring off.
- Wire diameter
- Inner length and diameter
- Some advice in purchasing a replacement
To do this, you’re going to have to do some Mathematics because you’ll be calculating the diameter of the wire. Using a ruler or measuring tape, measure how long 20 coils can be.
After that, do the same, but this time measure 40 coils. Do a conversion so that the measurements you have are decimals. For example, if you have 4 ½ inches, that means you have to use 4.5 inches instead.
Now that you have the measurements divide each measurement by 20 and 40, respectively, so that you can get the diameter of the wire.
For example, if the length of 20 coils is 5 inches, divide it by 20, and you’ll get 0.25 inches. Then, if the length of 40 coils is 10 inches, divide it by 40, and you’ll get 0.25 inches.
If both results are identical, then you measured the diameter correctly.
Get the measurement of the spring from top to bottom by loosening the setscrews found on the damaged spring. Then, slide it over to the stable section and measure.
Most hardware stores don’t sell individual torsion springs. This means you may need to order it online. The price will vary depending on the kind of spring you purchase.
Factors such as its estimated durability (6,000 – 25,000 cycles) can affect the costs. We recommend replacing both springs immediately because if one spring has broken, then the other spring isn’t that far off.
It’s better you get it all handled in one go so that you don’t have to go through this process again.
Once you have your replacement springs, locate which one is the left and right spring. A simple way to figure this out is by looking at which direction the end of the spring rolls towards. The end of a left spring faces the left side and vice versa for the right spring.
Take your replacement spring and slide it on the torsion tube. Make sure your stationary cone is facing the bracket at the centre. Follow it up with the cable drum and the garage door wire.
Replace the torsion bar with the bearing bracket on the left side.
Move the torsion bar towards the left, then slide the centre bearing into place. Move to the right side and insert the right spring, pushing the bearing into the stationary cone. Replace the drum and connect the centre bracket to both of the cones.
Check the components of your garage door for rust and degradation.
Anchor the cable in the cable slot by running the lift cables (also known as the garage door wire) between the doorjamb and rollers. After that, slide it through the cable slot found in the drum.
Place locking pliers on the torsion tube so that it stays in place as the drums are being tightened. Twist the drum so that the cable winds neatly within the winding grooves.
Make sure you apply enough pressure to the cables and wind it up as tight as you can before placing in and securing the setscrews. Keep the locking pliers there and do the same thing on the opposite side of the garage door.
Ensure you have the same tension on each side. Failure to do so will result in an uneven opening of the garage door.
Sidle up the winding bar inside the cone the way you did before and wind it up in the opposite direction from when you were unwinding it. The direction should be going towards the ceiling.
Apply the same technique where you use two winding bars and interchange them both. Take quarter turns and only turn it to the amount recommended by the supplier.
If there are no recommended turns, then you can do about 30 ¼ turns for doors that are 7 feet tall and about 36 ¼ turns for doors that are 8 feet tall.
Once you’re done fully winding up the springs, lightly tap the winding bar with a hammer so that you can stretch it out from its place in the centre to a quarter of the way across the bar before you tighten the setscrews.
Keep tightening the setscrews until they touch the torsion tube. After that, tighten them in ½ to ¾ turns. Don’t overtighten them because you will distort or puncture the torsion tube.
Cover the wall with cardboard, or a paper bag, then completely cover the spring with a lubricant spray meant for garage door use, wiping off any lubricant that drips down.
Unclamp the pliers and clamps scattered across the garage door contraption, move the ladder to a safe place, and raise the door manually about 3 feet high. When you let go, it should stay as is without going higher or lower.
But if it falls, go to each spring and add a ¼ turn. Repeat as often as possible until it stays up. However, should the door open by itself, you need to relieve some of the tension by unwinding it by a quarter turn.
Garage Door Cable
This half of the article is going to guide you through the steps you have to take so that you can fix a broken garage door cable. A broken cable has to be replaced as soon as possible to avoid any untoward accidents from getting worse.
What does a garage door cable do?
The garage door cable is one of the important features found in your garage door to ensure the safety of everyone who regularly passes through the garage door. If the springs are there to ensure the door is easily opened, the cable is the backup feature in case the springs fail.
You see, the garage door springs get worn out after a certain number of open-and-close cycles. Worst comes to worst, garage door springs can snap when they’re completely worn out.
The force behind this is strong enough to make a dent in your car and cause serious injury to anyone in the vicinity. The sound of a snapping tension spring sounds like a firecracker—that’s how much torsion has built up.
The garage door cable prevents the broken spring from snapping across the room and damaging your items, or even worse, injuring you. If the spring breaks, then it stays put where it is because the cable is threaded through the middle of the spring, acting as a safeguard.
How to replace a broken garage door cable
The process of replacing a broken garage door cable is similar to the process of replacing a broken garage door torsion spring. In fact, you can replace these two components at the same time.
Below is a summary of the steps you usually have to take in replacing the broken cables of your garage door:
- Release the cable tension
- Remove the broken cables by unhooking the springs
- Replace the cable and reattach the springs
- Unlatch the C-clamps and do a test run
Turn off the automated opener of your garage door and completely open the garage door. You’re going to have to place C-clamps on either side so that it doesn’t fall down while you’re working on it.
Unlatch the C-clamps you placed on either side so that the garage door can move and switch on the garage door opener. If you’ve reinstalled everything correctly, then the project should be a success.
As you can see, the process of replacing the cables is the same as the process of replacing the springs, but without the additional task of measuring the spring to get the dimensions for its replacement.
Remember to wind your cable as tight as you can and ensure an even amount of torsion on either side so that your garage door opens evenly.
What has to be regularly maintained in my garage door?
- The garage door sensor
- The garage door tracks
- The garage door opener
This part of the garage door is responsible for ensuring there are no obstructions before it lets the garage door close. It is located at the foot of either side of the garage door’s tracks.
A garage door sensor that is working properly prevents damage to cars and objects that are placed beneath the garage door. The same thing applies to people since it prevents untoward injuries.
The sensors can occasionally fall out of alignment and be unable to connect to one another. Adjust it as needed until it works the way it’s supposed to.
Alternatively, the sensors can also be smudged with dirt, so wipe them clean so that they can function back to their normal use.
These tracks are the path on which your garage door travels. They must be smooth without dents or any bends. Otherwise, your garage door may not open completely or worse, they can go off track.
If your door goes off track, you can usually pop it back in and repair the dents by gently hammering them out. If this happens often or if the dents are irreparable, you may have to replace them.
Give the garage door opener a few test runs so that you can check whether its auto-reverse feature is functioning the way it’s supposed to. One way to test the opener out is by placing an object below the garage door and let it close.
If the auto-reverse feature is working properly, then it should stop before it it’s the object and reverses back up. Make the necessary adjustments if the test failed.
So, there you have it. Those are the basics of replacing a broken garage door cable and spring. We recommend hiring a professional to do the job for you if you aren’t comfortable with your skills or if you don’t have the right equipment and tools for the job.
Don’t attempt repairing a garage door if you don’t have the correct number of clamps, pliers, and other tools because that can lead to a nasty trip to the emergency room.
This also highlights the importance of wearing safety gear. Wear your safety goggles and thick leather gloves at all times when you are near the garage while doing the repairs.
Garage door cables may seem like a part of your garage door that doesn’t do much, but it is actually pretty important. They act as an extended safety feature in case your spring snaps, so if you see that it’s broken, replace it as soon as possible.
When you’re replacing either the garage door cables or springs, give the rest of your garage door a once over and replace the parts that are starting to deteriorate or rust over.
If you’re replacing one spring, then replace all the springs because it won’t be long before they break, and you’re going to have to do the whole process again.
Regular maintenance of your garage door can help prevent accidents. On top of hiring a professional garage door service company, we also recommend that you run routine checks of your door.