How to Install a Single Torsion Spring Assembly

Install Single Torsion Spring Assembly Tutorial

The purpose of this tutorial is to show how to install a standard garage door torsion spring assembly on a new garage door, or on a door that previously used extension springs, torquemaster springs, or EZ-SET torsion springs.

Getting Started: Safety First!

Before getting started on the replacement, it is essential that we begin these instructions with our sternest warning:

CAUTION! Replacing garage door torsion springs is dangerous because the springs are under tension. If you do not use the right tools and follow safe procedures, you could lose hands, limbs, or even your life. You could also damage property. We want your business, but not at the expense of your well being. Doing the job right is your responsibility. If you have any doubts about your ability to change your springs safely, we recommend you hire a professional to repair your garage door. Safety First! Then work.

Get it right the first time!

1. To begin, if an opener is installed, disconnect the opener drawbar arm from the garage door. You will typically need to remove a clevis pin by first taking off the cotter pin, as pictured.
2. Unplug the power to the opener. This will keep the opener from running if somebody accidentally tries to open the door while you are working.
3. Vise grip the vertical track about 3" above one of the rollers. If you install the wrong springs, or if you over-wind the spring, this will prevent the garage door from flying up and knocking you off your ladder after winding the spring. This has happened to me on more than one occasion.
4. After installing the horizontal tracks on a new door, or after removing the existing spring assembly, install the the end bearing plates. This must be on the inside of the horizontal angle and vertical flag bracket. The narrower outer race of the bearing should face toward the outside of the garage door.
5. Insert two carriage bolts and finger-tighten the nuts to secure the end bearing plate to the track angle as before.
6. Secure the top of the end bearing plate to the jamb with a lag screw as before.
7. Tighten the nuts to secure the bottom of the plate to the horizontal angle.
8. Insert the left end of the 1" outside diameter shaft into the end bearing plate.
9. Go to the right side and slide the new end bearing plate onto the shaft. Make sure the end bearing plate is installed on the inside of the flag bracket and horizontal track angle. The inner protruding race of the bearing faces the inside of the garage as pictured. The new cable drums will press against these inner races of the bearings.
10. Install at least two bolts on the bottom the end bearing plate to secure it to the horizontal track angle. On 12" radius tracks such as this the third bolt securing the end bearing plate to the flag bracket is optional if the top of the bracket is to be secured to the jamb. On 15" radius tracks the horizontal track angle connects to the top of the flag bracket and is not supported by the flag bracket. Finger-tighten the flange nuts to find the best placement of the end bearing plate.
11. Secure the top of the end bearing plate to the jamb with a 1 3/4" X 5/16" lag screw. Important! Failure to do this on 15" radius tracks often causes the bracket to lean out, cutting the shaft, wearing out the bearing, and frequently causing the cables to come off the drums. Caution: Do not break any of the wires when you secure the end bearing plate. The wire for the motion sensor eyes typically runs near the end bearing plate. Make sure the wire is not under the metal.
12. Tighten the nuts that secure the end bearing plate to the horizontal angle and vertical flag bracket.
13. Measure the distance from the top of the garage door to the center of the shaft. Record this dimension.
14. Measure this distance from the top of the door to the header. Make a line at this distance with a pencil or a marker.
15. Hold the spring anchor bracket against the header as shown. The line you made in the previous step must line up with the notch in the bracket. The longer end of the spring anchor bracket needs to be on top.
16. Predrill the top of both adjustable slots in the spring anchor bracket. Additionally, predrill the stationary hole in the bottom of the bracket.
17. Secure the spring anchor bracket to the garage door header where you pre-drilled using lag screws. Notice that I moved the spring anchor bracket a little to the left. Since the bolt on the right side of the garage door header was in the way of the bracket, I had to move the bracket. Though it is not quite centered, this will not affect the performance of the garage door. If you do this, make sure you secure the bracket in the middle of a board on the header.
18. Vise grip the spring anchor bracket as shown. This will keep the shaft from possibly falling out and causing injury or damaging the garage door or shaft.
19. Move to the left side of the garage door. Slide the shaft out of the end bearing plate and slide a bearing on the shaft as shown. Note: the bearing should face the same direction as the end bearing plate on the left.
20. Slide the spring that you placed on the left side of the door at the beginning onto the shaft as shown. The stationary cone must be toward the center of the garage door while the winding cone must be toward the outside of the door.
21. You may need to loosen the set screws for the spring to slide onto the shaft.
22. Slide the spring and bearing toward the center of the door.
23. Loosen the set screws on the cable drum.
24. Slide the cable drum on the shaft as pictured.
25. Insert the shaft back into the end bearing plate.
26. Move to the right side of the garage door and repeat this process. Start by pulling the shaft out of the end bearing plate.
27. Slide the cable drum on the shaft as shown. Insert the shaft back into the end bearing plate.
28. Measure to see how far the shaft extends beyond the end bearing plate on each side of the garage door. Center the shaft by equalizing this distance.
29. Remove the vise grip from the spring anchor bracket. Slide the bearing toward the bracket and lube the bearing and the shaft with 2-3 drops of oil.
30. Insert the bolts in the stationary cones of the new torsion spring, and insert the bolts in the slots on the spring anchor bracket. Make sure that the bearing is inside the stationary cone. Finger tighten nuts on bolts until the stationary cone is flush against the center bearing plate.
31. Forcing the cones by tightening the bolts may break a cone if it is catching on a bearing. Winding garage door springs with cracked cones can cause the springs to spin loose and the bars to fly. Secure the bolts.
32. If you are converting from a Torquemaster or an extension spring system, remove the old cable from the bottom fixture. You may need to use a screwdriver to get the cable off.
33. Install the new cable. If this is a new installation, you may have installed the cables earlier.
34. Slide the cable drum toward the end bearing plate until the cable drum is flush against the race of the bearing. Finger-tighten the set screws on the cable drum.
35. Tighten each set screw an additional 1/2 to 3/4 turn. Caution: Under-tightening the drums could cause the drum to slip and the door to cock or fall. Over-tightening the set screws could damage the shaft or drum, resulting in the same problems. This is a critical step.
36. A common problem for do-it-yourselfers and inexperienced garage door repairmen is getting the end of the cable to properly seat in the slot of the cable drum. I usually bend the end of the cable 90 degrees with my needle nose pliers as shown.
37. Bending the cable will help you avoid problems with the tip at the end of the cable catching on the end bearing plate and causing the cable to come off and the garage door to jam, cock, or fall. Check to make sure the cable is straight in the slot and not sticking out the side. Also the edge of the cable stop should not be pointing to the side as shown. The cable tip should fit completely inside the drum, with the rounded part facing out so the tip can't scrape the end bearing plate.
38. After inserting the cable, pull down on the drum to tighten the cable around the outer groove on the drum.
39. Twist the shaft to keep the cable tightly on the drum. While twisting, vise grip the shaft as shown to keep the cable on the drum. The top of the vice grip should be tight against the garage header. This will keep the cable snug on the first drum while you install the cable on the other drum and position it in place. It also keeps the shaft from turning and the cables peeling off when you wind the springs. That single grip can save many hours of walking back and forth and having to level and re-level the door after the springs are wound.
40. Move to the left side of the garage door. Insert the cable on the drum. Pull down on the cable drum to tighten the cable on the drum. While pulling down on the drum push the shaft to the right to make sure the right cable drum is butted snugly against the inner race of the right end bearing. Push the left drum against the race of the left end bearing.
41. While continuing to pull down on the drum, finger-tighten the set screws and follow with 1/2 to 3/4 additional turns with a wrench. Properly following these two steps will result in both cables having the same tension. After the springs are wound, the garage door will level properly and it will not have a gap under one end.
42. It is now time to wind the spring. Mark the shaft just beyond the winding cone to assure that you have installed the correct spring on the correct side of the spring anchor bracket. Torsion springs always grow in length when they are wound in the proper direction. If your spring does not grow as you wind it, you are winding it the wrong direction probably because it is improperly installed. If this happens, you have the wrong wind spring and you need to install it on the other side of the center support bracket.
43. Tape your winding bars, not only to assure that you are inserting the bars completely into the cones as you wind the springs, but more importantly to assure that the bar does not slip out of the cone when you stretch the spring at the end. This has happened to me several times. We stretch the springs after winding them because the shaft floats horizontally between the flexible end bearing plates as the door operates. Although this may be a little as 1/4" the binding of the coils as the door closes often keeps the door from closing completely, especially when the springs and bearings are dry.
44. At this point you will wind the springs. Many garage door servicemen mark the springs with chalk or paint, but you can probably wind the springs in the time it would take me to explain how to read the marks. You will be winding up on the torsion spring. Begin by turning the spring up 1/4 turn until it meets resistance. This is your first quarter turn. Count "one." Next, insert the bar and raise it 90 degrees. Insert the second bar. This is "two." As you wind the spring it should grow in length the thickness of one coil for every turn.
45. Raise the second bar 90 degrees and insert the first bar. This is "three." Continue winding. If the spring shortens in length, unwind the spring and switch sides - the spring is on the wrong side. Otherwise, continue winding until you reach a count of "30." This is 7 1/2 turns, which is normal for most 7' garage doors. Newer steel doors with only one strut on top often need only 7 1/4 turns. On 8' doors count to 34. Each time you insert a bar into the winding cone, listen for the click to let you know the bar is in all the way. Not inserting the bar all the way could cause the plug to explode.
46. If the spring comes loose from the plug at about 6 turns, you are probably winding the spring backward because you have the wrong wind spring. Put the spring on the other side of the spring anchor bracket. Otherwise, after winding the springs, you will need to stretch the springs and secure the winding plug. This can be very difficult, and it can be especially dangerous. On several occasions I have had the winding bar slip out of the plug while tightening the set screws. Having the bar marked with tape next to the plug can help to prevent this from happening to you.
47. Mark the shaft 1/4" beyond the winding plug with permanent marker or with a file. We stretch the springs because the shaft floats horizontally between the flexible end bearing plates as the garage door operates. Although this may be as little as 1/4" the binding of the coils as the door closes often keeps the door from closing completely, especially when the springs and bearings are dry and need lubrication.
48. Here you will need to do three things at once. With your left hand, lift the bar just off the top of the door and pull it toward the center of the garage door. While lifting up and back, tap the top of the bar just under the winding plug with your other bar. Pulling the bar back toward the center of the door as you tap causes the spring plug to bind on the shaft and not slip back.
49. Continue tapping until the plug moves out to the mark on the shaft. Continue holding the bar off the door and pulling back toward the center of the door. If the plug slips away from the mark, repeat this step. Keep an eye on the tape to make sure the bar doesn't slip out of the cone. If it does start to slip, rest the bar against the top of the garage door, insert a bar in the next hole and turn the plug up enough to allow you to push the marked bar back into place.
50. After the plug reaches the mark, continue pulling the bar off the door and back toward the middle of the door with your left hand. Tighten both set screws 1/2 to 3/4 turns each after each screw first meets the shaft. This is the point at which you will feel the screw meeting resistance.
51. Carefully test the set screws by pulling down on the bar. The winding plug should be tight enough so that when you pull down on the bar, the garage door should begin to lift. If the bar starts to slip when you pull it down, add 1/4 turn to each set screw. CAUTION: Before removing the bars from the plugs after securing the winding plug, you will need to run an important test of the door. Many of the accidents that occur while fixing garage door springs are due to installing springs that are too strong.
52. Slowly pull down on the winding bar until the garage door rises 3" and the roller hits the vise grip on the track. The door will usually drop back down and raise the bar. If it doesn't drop back down, lift the end of the bar until the door closes. If the door comes up by itself when you hold the bar lightly, the springs are either over wound or they are too strong. You may need to remove 1/4 to 1/2 turns from the springs.
53. If the door stays on the floor, remove the bar from the cone.
54. If the door stays on the floor by itself, remove the vise grip from the track. If the door is off the floor and the roller is against the vise grip, close the door with one hand and remove the vise grip with the other. If the springs are too strong, you have to restrain it from flying into the open position.
55. Remove the vise grip from the shaft.
56. Raise the garage door slowly. Check the door balance. The door should stay down when closed, halfway when opened halfway, and open when opened. Add 1/4 turn of tension to the spring if the door will drop to the floor by itself from the halfway point. If the garage door won't stay on the floor, and if it pulls itself up when stopped halfway, close the door and remove 1/4 turn of tension from the spring.
57. Oil the spring. The thicker the oil the longer it will last. I normally use 40 wt. motor oil, but 10W40 will do if that is all you have. Squirt a stream of motor oil across the tops of the springs and rub the oil into the coils. Do not oil the last inch of each end.
58. Check the garage door at the floor. It should seal all the way across. If it doesn't you may need to adjust the drum on the higher side to get the door to level.
59. Reengage the garage door opener.
60. Plug in the power cord for the opener. Adjust force and travel as needed.

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