Ultimate Guide to Residential

Garage Door Springs

Ultimate Guide to Residential Garage Door Springs

July 21, 2016   |   Posted by Angelina Johnson

What are “Residential Garage Door Torsion Springs” and why are they worth writing a full guide about? is probably what you are wondering as you are reading the title. Well they are a major part of the garage door system, and have a lot more to them than you might think.


“Well what do the torsion springs do?”


They both make it easier for the motor to be able to open the garage door, and they make it possible for the average human to be able to manually lift the garage door if needed.  They’re basically the superhero of the garage fighting against the evil gravity that wants to keep the garage door down.   But sometimes the hero gets worn out, and needs to be taken care of.  And how can one go about taking care of these springs?


First off, these springs can be VERY dangerous to try to fix without experience, and if they are worn down, you will need to have a garage door company come and inspect them. When the springs get worn down, it will make the motor work a lot harder than it should have to, potentially shortening the motor’s life. It will also create a situation in which it will be a lot more difficult than necessary if you have to manually open your garage door.  If you haven’t already checked out our DIY Garage Door Maintenance, I highly recommend doing so, so that you can find out how to take care of your springs, in addition to other moving parts.

Well for those of you interested in the science of these springs and how they work, here are the basics for you.  Your spring can be one of two directions.  There are left hand wound springs, and as you can imagine, the other type are right hand wound springs.  The type depends on where the winding cone side is in relation to the rest of the spring.  If you’re facing the garage door from the inside of the garage, and the winding cone is on the left, then you have a right hand wound spring and vice versa for a left hand wound.

Regardless of the direction your spring faces, you are going to have the same features.


On one side of the spring you are going to have the winding cone, and on the other side you will have a stationary cone which is connected to the wall by a spring anchor bracket.  The winding cone’s job is to install, uninstall, and adjust the springs. REMEMBER, I cannot stress to you enough, that you need to have a professional do any adjusting, installing, and removing of these death traps for you!  The reason for this, is that the springs are wound up, which creates a lot of rotating force or “torque”.


The shaft (a.k.a. Torsion tube) goes through the torsion springs, with end bearing plates on both sides, which will be connected to cable drums.  These cable drums are what the cables are wrapped around, that extend to the bottom of the garage where they are fixed to the bottom brackets.  If the springs are adjusted correctly, there should be a balance between the power of the torque being applied to the cables from the shaft and the weight of the garage door, so that it will be able to function properly with the opener, and can be manually lifted easily as well in case of emergency.


So that’s the basic science of how these springs work, but that is not all that this guide is going to provide you with. If you continue reading, you will learn how to measure your springs and/or garage so that you know what type of springs to provide your garage with if you need a replacement.  There are three main ways to be able to find out what type of springs that you need.


The first way is to actually weigh your garage door. To do this, you’re going to need to first disconnect the power from your motor. Then you are going to want to use winding bars on the winding cone of the torsion springs to manually lift your garage door up a foot or so. Then you’re going to want to choose a scale to measure the weight.  Preferably, you’re going to want a scale that is a little more heavy duty than the one in your bathroom. The next step is to make sure that the surface that the scale is going to be on is even, if it isn’t, your results will not be accurate, I recommend putting down some pieces of wood or something to make sure it is perfect.  Place your scale down in your designated spot, and put another piece of even wood on top of the scale, under where the garage door will be. Now turn your scale on so that it is zeroed with only the wood on top of it.  Go up to the springs that are lifting up the garage and undo what you did to hold it up so that the springs are unwound as far as you can and shake your garage door, until you have your accurate reading of the garage door weight that seems reasonable (and write it down of course).  Now repeat the beginning steps to lift your garage door opener, take out the scale, and put the garage door back down to normal. Don’t forget to plug back in the opener.


Another way to determine the size of your springs is through finding the dimensions of the garage door. After you have recorded the length and height, you’ll also need some other information. This could be one of three things (or any combination): the model number, the serial number, and/or the PID number.  Give this information to a garage door expert to help you find and install the right replacement for you.


There is another way to be able to find the right replacement, if the spring you currently have worked fine for the garage but you need a replacement of that same spring.  However, this process can be very dangerous and is highly not recommended. If you do choose to do this process make sure that electricity is not connected to your garage door motor and that you are proceeding with extreme caution wearing safety goggles the entire time.  For this process you are going to need to use the spring directly to find it’s inside diameter, wind, length, & wire size.


Sometimes, if you’re lucky, there will be a label that has all or most of this information for you on the spring, but if not you’re going to need to know how to find this information.


To find the inside diameter, you will need a tape measure, a ruler, or even a piece of paper with a pen (this way you can mark the length and mark it, and measure it later, but this is an unnecessary step) and a broken torsion spring where there are two pieces to the spring.  Go to one of the broken ends of the spring. Don’t try to move the shaft out of the way, instead measure the distance from the end of the shaft to the other side of the inside of the spring.  The shaft has a width of 1 inch so you can add 1 inch to whatever measurement you got to get the inside diameter of the spring.


Next you have to find the wind of your spring. This just means to find whether it is a left hand wound or right hand wound spring.  There are several ways to find out this information, some of the ways were explained at the top of this article, but there are some others as well.  Such as, if you look at the end of the spring, the wire will be going around in a counterclockwise way if it is right hand wound, and clockwise if it is left hand wound.


The length is pretty simple, since it is just the full length of the torsion spring. However, you have to be careful to not touch the spring, and you have to be sure that if the spring is broken into multiple pieces, that you measure the length of each piece and add them all together.


The wire size is going to be the most complicated of these processes. You have to take 20 coils of your spring and measure the length of all of them together, then average them out (take the length of all 20 coils and divide it by 20) this will tell you the wire size, but you might also want to measure and average a length of 10 wires and possibly a length of 5 as well, to make sure you get the same average each time. Keep remeasuring and averaging until you are satisfied that you have found the wire size.


Regardless of what process you use, you will need to plug in that information to a search engine to find your perfect garage door spring replacement. Or….. you could hire a professional to measure for you for free, and then later have them also replace your torsion spring for you since you really shouldn’t risk losing your life to save a little money on replacing your torsion spring.


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