You’re opening your garage door and all of a sudden, the spring breaks. You may be thinking “Do I really need it?” The garage door springs are there to keep your garage door balanced and safe. Before replacing your spring, you must make sure it is the correct size and type.
If the spring is located on top of the door, it is a torsion spring, and if it is located on the side, they are extension springs. It may seem confusing when trying to find what spring you need, but we’ve got your back. Continue reading to find out how to determine what springs you need for your garage door.
Not just any spring can be used for your garage doors. There are different types and various sizes of springs that must be measured to fit your specific door for a snug fit. Read further to learn more about the different kinds of springs and how to tell them apart.
You may know that there are springs in garage doors, but do not know there is more than one kind.
Types of Garage Door Springs
Garage doors usually use torsion springs that can be found on top of the door, or extension springs that can be found on the sides. Regardless of the type, the springs are needed to ensure the doors can open and close correctly.
This kind of spring can be found on the horizontal track of the garage door. They also have been coined with the nickname “stretch springs”. The extension springs are connected to the cable-pulley system and begin to stretch to half the door’s height when the door begins to lower.
Something specific about extension springs is their length, making it easy to identify them. They have the ability to stretch and contract for safe opening and closing of the door. The extension springs are designed to assist people in opening the doors when closed as the springs are fully tensed.
While the extension springs are found on the horizontal track, the torsion springs are found over the head of the door. The extension springs could hit a wall or your car if they break because there are not always safety cables. Unlike extension springs, the torsion springs are located in a shaft to avoid damage if they break.
The torsion spring looks similar to a coil and works through twisting. Energy is harnessed within the spring to allow easy opening whether manually or electrically through the remote. These springs also tend to work more quietly as they are found on the wall as opposed to over the tracks.
Torsion springs balance the door and make it so the same measure of force is needed to open and close the door. If the door is properly balanced, the garage doors should be simple to move and stop on each section as they move.
This spring is designed to open the door smoothly as the energy is focused at the anchor plate at the center of the door.
While the torsion springs turn to operate, the extension springs expand and contract. The torsion springs usually last up 20,000 cycles and the extension springs usually last up to 10,000 cycles.
Before buying a new garage door spring, you need to know the difference between the extension and torsion spring.
How to Know What Kind of Garage Door Spring To Buy
Once you know the difference, you will need to know the specifics to get the right one. This includes knowing things such as winder direction and the wire size for a proper size.
Beginning to learn the difference in wind direction can seem stressful for beginners. It may seem complicated, but there are some easy ways to tell the difference. When looking at the springs from inside the garage, the right side will be the left wound spring and the left side will be the right wound spring. If this is too confusing, the difference is obvious when looking at the ends (source).
You can tell the difference between the two as the right wound spring is coiled clockwise and has a signature red cone. The left wound spring is coiled counter-clockwise and has a black cone. An important note to keep in mind is that the color of the cone is not the same as the wire color. If you go by the cone color, you will end up buying a spring that will not fit your garage doors.
Measure the Wire Size
Getting the right measurements for the wires of your garage doors are important. If they are too big or too small, they will not fit and you will have to start the process over again. Thankfully you can measure the wire to make sure you get the right size.
You can do this by measuring ten or twenty coils in inches on the spring. Once you do this, you will compare those numbers to a garage door torsion spring chart to get the right size wire. You will also measure the inside of the coal to the closest 1/16” of an inch for the diameter. Finally, go ahead and measure the total length of the spring to the closest ¼” inch.
While you should measure your spring for the best results, the most common springs have inside diameters of 1 ¾”.
Measure the Length and Diameter
To get the length of the coil, go ahead and measure from the coil on one side of a cone to the coil on the other side of the cone. Make sure you do not measure the cone itself, just the coils on them. This will give you your length.
To find your diameter of the wire, you will measure the inside of your diameter to the closest 1/16” inch. This can be a difficult task while the spring is still on the shaft. If you inspect the cones, you may notice some markings. These markings typically have numbers that correlate to the size.
If you can’t find these numbers, stick to measuring it by hand but just be careful to not bend the tape. If the tape becomes bent it will give you the wrong measurement, and ultimately a spring that does not fit for your door.
Determine the Color Code
The coloring on springs were not made for decoration, but to differentiate between springs. The same color does not mean the same thing when used in the extension spring as opposed to the torsion spring. This system may seem complicated and confusing, but this should help clear things up.
When colors are on extension springs, this is used to label the capable lifting weight. There is a range of 10 colors varying from lightweight doors to heavyweight doors (source).
The colors for the torsion springs have a whole different meaning. These springs sport two different colors; one to define the wind direction and the other to define the wire gauge. The springs that have red cones are right wound springs and are installed to the left of the garage door. The springs with black cones are left wound springs and should be installed on the right side of the garage door.
How To Adjust Tension on a Garage Door Spring
The tension needs to be balanced because if not, it will make your garage door too heavy and burn out your opener. To do this on your own, you will need safety glasses, gloves, ⅜ inched wrench or socket, two winding bars (½ inch), and a few vice grips.
Start by putting one vice grip on the shaft, it should rest against the ceiling. The second vice grip should go on the track to prevent the door from flying up while you are working. We are going to adjust the torsion spring by ¾ turns.
There are 4 holes around the end. Place one winding bar in one of these holes and loosen the two set screws. Twist and do ¾ turns on each side by using the winding bars to move the shaft. Once you have done the ¾ turn, tighten the set screws again.
You can test to see if this worked by removing the vice grips. Open your garage door a little bit and let go to see if it slams down. Then open halfway and let it go. If it stays, you properly adjusted the tension of your own garage door!
How Much Does it Cost to Replace Your Garage Door Springs
Replacing a spring on a garage door is a project that can be done DIY, if careful. The springs can snap and seriously injure someone, but it can be done by non-professional’s if they are confident about what they are doing.
The springs themselves can cost upwards of $70, the normal range being between $20-$70. When hiring a professional to replace a garage door spring, you can expect the cost to be up to $350 per door. This price includes the spring and the labor for the professional. If you DIY it, you will simply need to buy the springs and the tools needed to do so if you do not have them already.
As with most products, there are some brands that are a little bit more pocket-friendly. Dura-Lift is a great option and many springs cost close to the $30 mark. Another brand to look out for is Clopay. They have a wide range of options, with prices usually ranging from middle of the road to low.
Products from these companies may be lower in price, but you can bet that they work just as efficiently as other brands.
What is the Recommended Springs For Different Garage Doors
The most commonly used spring for garage doors are torsion springs. The garage door may be single-car, double-car, or even carriage house garage doors. This means that the springs and setup will be a little different with each kind of door.
Due to the differences in doors, it is wise to check the exact springs that your specific garage door takes. It is not one size fits all, and you will need to make sure it fits your garage door perfectly.
Different doors operate differently. They may roll up smoothly, or open out like an actual door. Because of this, you need to make sure you are checking for your kind of door and the specific spring that is faulty.
There are different ways you can tell that a spring is broken. The garage door may begin opening and closing unevenly, or won’t open all the way. It may also begin to make a screeching or squeaking noise when using. The spring may have broken in half entirely, or just have stretched themselves out so much that they cannot coil efficiently anymore.
Look below for a table to better demonstrate these differences.
|Single-Car Door||Torsion Spring|
|Double-Car Door||Torsion Spring|
|Carriage House||Torsion Spring|
|Pole House||Extension Spring|
What are the Color Codes For Garage Door Springs?
For beginner’s, the first thing to keep in mind is that the colors will mean something different for each type of spring. The colors for extension springs signify the weight capacity of the door, whereas the colors for the torsion springs signify wind direction and wire gauge.
The following list is the list of colors with the associated weight capacity:
White- 10/110/210 pounds
Light Blue- 90/190/290
The torsion springs are much different when it comes to their colors. There are two different systems. The one system has only red and black to differentiate between the wind directions, which is right and left. The next system is what represents the wire gauge in inches.
Light Blue- .125/.200/.283/.375/.4900
This might be confusing at first, but just remember that the different springs have different systems. If you used the same system for both springs, you would end up with a spring that does not fit your garage door.
With the information provided in this article, a beginner can become a pro in learning about garage door springs. Before you buy new springs, make sure you double-check the kind of spring needed. Review the color code one last time before buying to ensure you are following the right color system.
Ruben has a diverse background in the home services industry, with experience running a construction company, a kitchen and bath showroom, and a moving and relocation company. This breadth of experience has provided him with a wealth of knowledge and expertise in various areas of home improvement in general and specifically in the heating and plumbing niche.