Garage Door Torsion Spring Replacement

Garage Door Torsion Spring Replacement

Garage Door Torsion Spring Replacement

Winding “up” starts out easy. It finishes at the proper number of turns, by which time you are pushing against the maximum torque. Count the turns of spring winding from when the springs are slack. To be sure you’re winding the right direction, all you have to remember is that proper winding makes the spring smaller in diameter and longer in length as it twists “in”. On the standard door (most common), this means you push the winding bars up to wind up the spring, which is an easily remembered rule. This is very apparent and should be verified during the first few easy turns. You can also think about the correct winding direction in mechanical terms, namely which way the reaction of the spring will torque the shaft and drums, which in turn will lift the cable. This should all make perfect sense before you attempt the manipulations. If you were to install the two springs backwards in the wrong sides of the center plate, the winding direction that acts to lift the door will be twisting the springs “out”, which is backwards. By watching the chalk mark while winding, you can count the number of turns applied, and confirm the number later. My standard-size door (7 foot height) with 4-inch drums has a nominal wind of 7-1/4 or 7-1/2 turns, which leaves 1/4 or 1/2 turn at the top-of-travel to keep the lift cables under tension. After 7 turns on the first spring, I clamped down the set-screws, weighed the door again, and found a lift of about 100 pounds in reduced weight. As expected, this wasn’t quite half of the full 238 pounds, nor would it leave any torsion at the top-of-travel, so I added an 8th turn. The door now weighed 122 pounds on one spring, which was ideal. After winding the other spring, the door lifted easily, with only a few pounds apparent weight. This confirmed that the spring choice was properly matched to the door design. I engaged the electric opener trolley, and adjusted the opener forces down to a safer level suitable for the new, improved balance. The door was now ready for return to service. As with the drums, I tightened the winding cone set-screws about 1/2 or 3/4 of a turn after contact with the shaft, which provides a good grip, but does not distort the shaft. One can overwind the springs slightly, up to about 8 turns on a standard residential door (that is, 1/2 or 3/4 extra turns), to compensate for undersized or fatigued springs, or increased door weight from painting or humidity, but this results in more stress on the springs and therefore decreased lifetime. If the door is too heavy for that slight tweak, then different springs are needed. The usually recommended rule for a door being properly balanced is that it should lift “easily” through all its travel. The door may also remain stationary if let go somewhere around the middle of the travel, but a smoothly rolling door many not show this behavior (while a sticky track will!), so easy travel is the only reliable test for proper balance. A difficult door may be due to stiff bearings or rollers in the mechanism, tracks out of alignment, etc., not necessarily the torsion spring adjustment. Another trick for fine-tuning the balance of spring turns versus door weight is to adjust one side of a duplex pair slightly more or less than the other. That way you can have an exact weight balance while retaining some desirable torsion at the top. Once the springs are torqued, the setscrews tightened, and the locking pliers and winding rods removed, do not play with turning the torsion bar using the winding rods. Doing so even momentarily can relieve the tension on the lift cables, which then easily slip off the drums. Replacing the cables on the drums can be difficult without repeating the entire spring unwinding-winding procedure again, and the cables can be damaged if tension is applied while they are off the drums. Total time for me to complete this work the first time was 3.5 hours, including cutting the winding tools and the photography. I’ve completed subsequent repairs in less than an hour. Hundreds of people have written me to say they did it safely in a few hours after studying this essay. I’d like to hear how it goes for you. Spring Supplier Referral List
garage door torsion spring replacement 1

Garage Door Torsion Spring Replacement

With the rods and other tools at hand, I am ready to begin. The first task is to remove the broken spring and its unbroken mate from the torsion shaft. To remove and disassemble the shaft and lift drums, the torsion on the unbroken spring must first be released. I used a ratcheting box-end wrench to loosen the set-screws while pushing the rod against the force I knew would be released when the screws let go. Later I switched to an open-end wrench for the set-screws, since some of the square screw heads were too rough to fit in the box-end wrench. It is prudent to be prepared for torque from either orientation when loosening the set-screws. This protects you from a miscalculation of the force orientation or from an attention lapse. If it isn’t marked already, you should run a chalk line (as described below for the new springs) down the length of the old spring before unwinding, so you know how many turns it took to unwind. This will give you a starting value for the number of turns in the new springs. By each “turn” is meant a full revolution of the winding cone. Each full turn requires four quarter-turn manipulations of inserting and switching the winding rods. My door is a very common height of 7 feet, which with the 4-inch drums requires about 7-1/4 or 7-1/2 full turns on the springs. This is the moment of truth for the beginner, as you will be holding the full force of a fully-wound torsion spring for the first time. It is time to adopt a calm, quiet, deliberate, careful attitude of concentration. Make sure that the telephone, a bystander, or other distraction is not going to startle you or make you lose your concentration. Loosening or tightening the set-screws is the moment of most risk, since the end-wrench is a potential missile if you slip, and your hand is close to the cone. When the wrench is removed and only the rods are in place, it would seem that the worst that could happen is that the rod is flung out and the captive spring and cone rattle around, assuming you are keeping yourself clear of the rod’s radial disk of rotation, and not leaning on the rod such as to fall into the apparatus were the rod to slip out of your grasp. The torsion shaft design has the virtue of capturing the mass of the spring and cones reliably on the shaft, preventing these parts from launching themselves as projectiles, even in an accident. The prior clamping of the set-screws tends to have pressed a dimple into the hollow shaft and to have distorted the shaft’s roundness into an eccentric shape. While releasing the set-screws, I was careful to loosen them enough to let the cone swing around any such distortions. I was also careful to observe any binding of the old cones on the eccentricity or burring on the shaft. The fit of the cone on the shaft is supposed to be loose enough to avoid binding, but if it were to occur one would have to be careful not to assume the spring was unwound when in fact the cone was just stuck on the shaft. If I had a stuck cone that I could not unwind with a little extra force, then I would have called in a technician to deal with it. In the worst case, I suppose the spring must be deliberately broken with some hazard, thus releasing it for a forceful disassembly, and the shaft and some other parts replaced. But this is an unlikely situation and in this case was not necessary. The winding technique is simply to (un)wind as far as one rod will go, where it is pressed against the top of the door, or nearly so, by the unwinding torsion. You insert the other rod in the next socket, remove the first rod, and continue. At any point you can stop and rest by leaving the active rod pressed against the door, where it will be held by the unwinding force. I would make a quarter-turn increment that way, and let go for a moment to collect my attention for the next increment, almost in a quiet, meditative alertness. While you can go from one quarter-turn and rod-swap to the next continually without letting go, working fast against the steady tension seemed to invite a kind of shakiness in my arms that was a bit unsettling. It isn’t that there is much physical exertion, it is more that the tension is unrelenting, like peering over a precipice. While winding or unwinding, one must be mindful of the possibility that the spring could break during winding process itself. If that should happen while the spring is significantly torqued, hazardous forces on the winding bar will suddenly become unbalanced, and the bar will take an unexpected jump, possibly injuring your hand or anything else in its path. At the same time, the spring remnants, although captured on the torsion bar, will create a frightening racket that would give the bravest soul a start. So your winding technique should be firmly in control of the rods, and you should not be so delicately perched on a ladder such that a startle will result in a fall. Depending on the design, you can know in advance how many turns are going to have to be unwound. Lifting a 7-foot door by winding a cable on a 4-inch diameter (about 1 foot circumference) drum requires about 7 turns, plus one extra turn to maintain cable tension at the top-of-travel. Maintaining tension at the top-of-travel is critical; without it the cable will jump off the drum, requiring a serious repair.

Garage Door Torsion Spring Replacement

Garage Door Torsion Spring Replacement
Garage Door Torsion Spring Replacement
Garage Door Torsion Spring Replacement
Garage Door Torsion Spring Replacement
Garage Door Torsion Spring Replacement