How to Replace a Garage Door Spring

20160629_175636A garage door needs a garage door spring, either a torsion or an extension spring, to help you lift the weight of the garage door.  Even the most heavy-duty garage door opener cannot match the lightest garage door and power the door up to the top to allow you to get out of the garage.

When a garage door spring breaks, you are stuck either in, or out of, your garage.  You can pull the manual door release, but you are still obligated to lift a garage door that could be as much as 300+ pounds.  It is no small task, and a renter doesn’t want to do it.  Nor should they have to.  And they may need to get their car out of the garage to go to work, to get you your rent.

I recently had to replace a garage door spring in two different units recently, here is what I was able to do.

Maximizing Profit

Every time you do a rental repair, you will trade your time for money.  Sometimes, the task is easy, and you make great money.  If you do repairs often enough, you can save quite a bit of money.  All that money will allow you to have a better lifestyle, or a higher savings balance – which will allow a better life style later. I almost always choose a higher savings balance…

Have a Solid knowledge Base

Garage Door SpringIn the first case, the renter sent me a text about the garage door not working.  It would not go up.  I explained that there is a light switch in the garage, next to the only outlet in the garage, that has a light switch.  This light switch was installed by me when I installed the garage door openers, in order to immediately shut the power to the garage door opener and lock the garage.  It is a vacation switch, or a tenant lock out switch, depending on how you look at it.  I could also pull the plug where the opener is plugged in, but that means getting a ladder when I want to plug it back in.  So I put in a switch in the fifteen or so garage door openers that I installed as I was rehabbing my rentals.

That switch is often something a tenant will shut off as they leave the garage, not knowing, or remembering, that it controls the power to the garage door opener.  I responded for them to look at the switch.

Know The Problems and Solutions

Another common problem in my 4-plexes, the outlet in the garage is powered through the GFI in the bathroom in the tenant’s unit.  It could be two floors away, and sometimes the tenant doesn’t even realize the GFI popped.  I asked the tenant to verify this as well.  I always attempt to get a problem fixed as soon as possible, and often a simple text response will allow the tenant to resolve the issue themselves.

Both of my hopeful simple fixes were a no-go.  The tenant said the “cables came off”.  I requested the tenant send me a picture.  Garage door cables generally do not come off.  It’s not impossible for a bracket to come loose, or the end of the cable to slip off the cable drum.  Or the cable can break.  It’s a very small chance for these things to happen.

Identify The Issue

When the picture came through the text, I immediately thought, crap, it’s a garage door spring.  That means a service call, or an hour of work.  Since I am more cheap that afraid to fix things, I opted to stop by and confirm the issue.  A broken torsion spring was the issue.  The garage door only has one torsion spring, so the door was 100% out of commission.  The tenant did not have a car in the garage, but did need to get garbage barrels out for trash day.

Bring The Correct Parts and Tools

Garage Door SpringI headed to Menards to get a new spring.  Why do they have so many springs???  I did not bring in the broken spring, as it was still attached to the garage.  I went through the “selection guide” and purchased a new spring for ~$35.  I returned to the rental with some tools, a ladder, and a “I hope this goes well“ attitude.


Garage Door SpringI purchased the type of torsion spring that needed to be wound tight with two bars.  You turn the spring 90 degrees, multiple times.  Each time you move the bar to the next hole, and turn another 90 degrees.  Sort of like climbing up a wall.  I used a couple of small pieces of re-bar that I cut for the purpose.  The rebar I had around due to political yard signs being left in nay yard.  So the re-bar was free.

Garage Door SpringI changed the spring.  It took about an hour.  I saved at least $100.

The second spring I changed within a month, was very similar.  The tenant had the car in the garage, so it was a bit more effort as we had to open the door to get the car out.  Otherwise, the process was the same.

Have you ever had a repair that you could look back and be satisfied you saved a decent sum of money?  Have you ever changed a garage door spring?



6 Replies to “How to Replace a Garage Door Spring”

  1. Another great post.

    If I can, i do maintenance work on my units myself too. The most difficult one I have done was a water heater replacement, and that was due to the weight.

    It looked like a daunting task at first, but after searching the internet I realized it was a very basic process.Drain, unhook the old one, hook up the new one, fill, test. It was a little time consuming, but worth the money saved by not hiring a plumber! And like you say next time it will be easier and quicker.

  2. Nice savings there! I can’t say that I changed a garage door spring myself, but it’s a great feeling whenever you apply a little elbow grease to fix your own problems and save a little $ too. While not house related, I’m constantly fixing my wife’s macbook (new solid state drives, internal connector, etc.) and have easily saved the cost of a new laptop. All thanks to Youtube. If I lived by my rentals, I’d definitely youtube my way to maintain them as well 🙂

  3. Take care. A fully-loaded garage door spring can do some real damage to you if released in an uncontrolled manner. That is not to say you should not do the repair yourself, but that you should be careful.

    1. Thank you for reading!

      You are correct, a tightly wound spring can be dangerous. In my case, one the spring is broken, there is no tension. I do have to wind it back up to being tight, and that is danger part. But it is easily managed. There are also springs than can be wound tight with a drill.

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