Garage doors come with one or two springs; otherwise known as “torsion springs,” and their existence is absolutely integral to the opening and closing of the garage door. If a torsion spring breaks, the system loses a bit of the strength needed to lift the door. However, it’s still possible to open the garage door when one of the springs is broken.
When it comes to opening a garage door with a broken spring, there isn’t any magic involved. In fact, it’s a really straightforward process. If your garage door operates with a remote, it will make the task easier, but is not required. With that said, you should really consider having someone else help you; the more, the merrier.
How to open a Garage Door with a Broken Spring
Normally, the torsion spring is supposed to handle the weight of the garage door during operation—as the garage door is coming up and as it goes back down. In other words, it’s a counterbalance. When it’s broken, you can become that counterbalance.
1. Position yourself in the middle of the garage door. Do not lift from the left side or right side. You run the risk of lifting the garage door of the track.
Note: If you have one or more people helping, position one person in the middle, and one on each side. If there’s only two people, one person should be positioned halfway between the middle of the garage door and the side.
2. Press the button on your garage door opener and start lifting when the device starts running. Help the garage door open all the way until the operation stops.
3. When closing the garage door, everyone involved should be standing in the same position and ready to help the garage door down. Without a torsion spring to help it, the garage door will come down faster than it goes up. The key is to be careful.
Even with a broken spring, your garage door is still operable, though severely gimped. And since it’s still operable to some degree, you can still open the door in the event that you need to move your car out. However, safety is a major concern.
Is it safe to open your garage door with a broken spring?
Once one or both of the torsion springs break, the garage door loses a component that helps relieve tension on other components. That means the other parts will immediately feel the extra stress a broken spring leaves behind. Operating the garage door while it’s under such immense stress can and has led to worse problems. A door that sags on one end is an excellent example of a situation getting worse.
Lifting the garage door is a gamble. By taking the risk, a component could break while you’re attempting to lift the garage door. You think the garage door is heavy now? You are only feeling a fraction of its weight due to the trolley system. You do not want to feel the entire weight of your garage door—especially if you are under it or, god forbid, a child is nearby.
What you should be taking away from this message is this: it is not safe lifting the garage door with a broken spring. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. What you should do is lift it once (with the help from others), park your vehicle outside and close the garage door until you repair it yourself or, better yet, have a professional do the work for you.
How to Replace a Broken Garage Door Spring
Naturally, if you’re experiencing a broken garage door spring you can always fix it. With a few tools, some technical know-how, and upper arm strength, you can replace a broken garage door torsion spring relatively easily.
But before you do, understand this: torsion springs have loads of energy stored. It’s simply the nature of their design; when something is as wound as a torsion spring, there’s a lot of energy that can be released if a mistake is made. In turn, it can cause more damage to the garage door or, more importantly, to you.
If you do not feel comfortable swapping out the broken spring with a new one, do not move on. Get a professional to do it because it will only take them a few minutes, at best.
1. Unplug the operator. If someone accidentally activates the operator, and the garage door attempts to open, people can get hurt.
2. Disarm the battery backup. Just pull the cord hanging from the garage door, near the opening.
3. Clamp a vice grip on one of the tracks, just before one of the rollers. When you are winding a new torsion spring, this will prevent the garage door from lifting.
4. Unwind the unbroken spring. For this, you will need two winding bars (View on Amazon). Do NOT use any old metal bars. Stick one bar into the slot and hold it in place with one hand. Use your other hand to slowly loosen the set screws with a socket wrench. You will feel a bit of tension on the winding bar. That’s normal.
5. Now, slowly lower the winding bar down and rest it against the wall. It will hold in place. Insert the second winding bar into the other tube that’s revealed and hold it in place. Use your other hand to remove the other winding bar. Everytime you lower the winding bar, it’s considered a quarter-turn. Torsion springs unwind after 30 quarter-turns.
6. Perform steps 1 through 5 for the other torsion spring.
7. Where the two springs meet in the middle, you’ll see a center bracket. It’s being held in place by bolts. Remove them. Afterwards, the two springs can be detached from one another.
8. On the right and left side, you’ll see two cable drums. You’ll know you’re looking in the right direction if you see cables stretching to the top. They look like small wheels. There’s two set screws to loosen. Detach the cable and slide the drum over.
9. Slide the drum off and set it aside. Remove the broken torsion spring and slide the new one into place. And you’re done!
10. With a new garage door spring in place, all that you have to do is work in reverse to assemble your garage door.
You Need to Know This About Your Garage Door!
If you’re noticing problems with your garage door, you need to know what’s causing the issue and if you’ll need to get the garage door repaired or replaced. Having a working garage door is crucial for any home, and fixing it is just one form of home improvement, but there are many more.
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It isn’t safe, by any means, to open your garage door when it has a broken spring. Not only is there so much energy wound into the spring, but the fact that the other spring is broken is also causing a great deal of stress on the other components. Operating the garage door during this time only serves to add to that tension and stress, increasing the chances of something terrible happening to you or anyone nearby.
Do not operate a broken garage door until it’s fixed, and if you do, it should only be to remove your vehicle outside until further notice. Once the torsion spring has been replaced, and everything else is looking good, you are free to operate your garage door. And if your garage got a few bumps and bruises during the process, you can fix dents in the panel in a matter of minutes.