Whether your garage door torsion spring busted or you’re simply looking to head off an unplanned disaster, choosing the right replacement torsion spring is vital. These aren’t one size fits all parts, if you try to wing it, you’re going to be overwhelmed with choices and guessing simply isn’t an option.
Before you head out to the hardware store or hop online for garage door torsion springs, make sure you can answer all of these questions:
One torsion spring or two?
There’s more than one way to configure a torsion spring, so the first thing you’ve got to figure out is if you’ve got one spring or two. This may sound simple, but just staring up at your torsion spring from the ground can muddy the waters — two springs often look like one because of the way they’re connected.
What you want to look for is the stationary cone and its bracket. It’s a fixed point, usually above the middle of your garage door, that helps maintain tension on the spring. If it’s to the right or left of your torsion spring, you’ve only got one in play. If it’s in the middle of the spring, you’re looking at a dual spring configuration.
Right hand or left hand winding?
A lot of people get confused on the right-hand versus left-hand winding thing, but it’s pretty simple. A right-hand wound spring is wound clockwise, a left-hand spring is wound counterclockwise. So, if you’re looking at it from the end (you can’t tell wind from the front), the right-hand wound spring will have the wire ending on the right; the left-hand wound spring will have the wire ending on the left. Piece of cake.
How much does your door weight?
Even if your current torsion spring works fabulously, it’s still a good idea to know how much your garage door weighs. This information can help you make better decisions about the spring to buy, especially if your door is right on the line between two different recommended spring sizes.
To determine the weight of your door, simply grab an old-fashioned analog bathroom scale and disconnect the door from the garage door opener by unbolting the opener arm from the door. You’ll get the best reading this way.
Hold the door open slightly while a helper positions the scale in the middle of the door. If the door is over 150 pounds, you’ll want to use two scales positioned under the first row of hinges from the end of the door. Otherwise, put the scale in the middle and gently release the tension from the spring by pushing up on the winding cone with a winding bar. About a quarter turn should be enough, but you’ll have to judge this carefully. Have your helper check the scale once the torsion spring is no longer helping to hold the door up.
What are the measurements of your current torsion spring?
Last, but not least, you’re going to need to know the length, wire size and inside diameter of your existing spring. If you have two, measure them independently; it’s not uncommon for two-spring doors to have more than one size of springs. This YouTube video I found on how to measure garage springs will show you how to find your measurements in just a few minutes.
The length of your spring is easy enough — just measure the spring parts between the cones. Usually, new springs will come with new cones, but the measurements are for the coil portion only. The inside diameter is similarly simple, just measure the diameter of the coil inside the wire.
Measuring the wire diameter is more difficult. If you don’t have a caliper, you’ll have to do it with a tape measure, but there’s a handy trick for this. Instead of trying to measure just one coil accurately, measure a group of 10 instead. Write that number down as a fraction, for example, 1.92 inches. Then simply divide by 10 by moving the decimal to the right to determine the wire diameter.
Before you place your new spring order, you’ll want to verify that the spring you measured is rated for the weight of the door you’ve got. If it’s not, you’ll need to measure the height of your door to determine the proper spring for your configuration. Very heavy doors may be better served with two springs, even if the original setup was a single-spring configuration.
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