Garage Door Torsion Spring Break

The really good thing about having torsion springs on the garage door is that when one breaks, not much happens:

Garage door torsion spring - broken end

Garage door torsion spring – broken end

We decided to spray money on the problem and make it go away; the Dutchess Overhead Doors tech was here the morning after I called: quicker than Amazon Prime and he works much faster than I can.

As nearly as I can tell from the checkbook (remember checkbooks?), an original (to us, anyway) spring broke shortly after we moved in. If so, that spring lasted nearly 17 years; at two open-shut cycles per day, let’s call it 12,000 cycles.

For the record, the springs are:

  • 29 inches long
  • 1-3/4 inch ID
  • 0.250 wire
  • 7 foot tall door

He cranked in seven full turns, corresponding to the “one turn per foot of door height” rule, although the door doesn’t quite balance on its own. I’d have done one more quarter-turn to match the chalk above the door (a good example of write it where you use it), plus maybe another for good measure, but I’m reluctant to mess with success:

dsc08582 - Garage door torsion spring - installedPerhaps the 1955 springs were 32 inches long, but the tech replaced what he found both times. It’s a brute of a door, two generous cars wide, with plywood panels in heavy wood framing, plus a few pounds of filler I applied to the rather crazed surface before painting it some years ago.

I’m mildly surprised none of the dimensions changed in the last 60 years: the springs, end caps, pulleys, and hardware directly interchanged.


  1. #1 by Daniel B Martin on 2015-10-02 - 10:38

    What will you do with the broken spring? This situation calls for an imaginative shop project to repurpose the spring in some unusual and unexpected way!

    • #2 by Ed on 2015-10-02 - 11:08

      I let The Nice Man take the springs away. The Long Things stockpile already had the previous set, untouched since I dropped them on what was once the top layer of the bottom shelf.

      Perhaps the base for a smaller version of the Mythical Talking Unicorns that Sophi did for Burning Man? Of course, that would require artistic talent, which seems to be in very short supply around here…

      • #3 by Red County Pete on 2015-10-02 - 11:21

        The local hospital has similar springs at the base of the disabled parking signs in the parking lot to make them crash resistant.

  2. #4 by Red County Pete on 2015-10-02 - 11:17

    I ought to get the springs redone in the south overhead door in the shop/barn. They were set for no insulation, but 1.5″ styrofoam bead panels killed the balance (12′ high, 14′ wide, so a lot of foam). On a good day, I’ll do a clean and jerk, then use a prop stick to get it fully up. If I don’t care to do the weightlifting move, I have a chain hoist. Sea shantys would help, I guess. [grin]

    The north overhead door has masonite over the foam and racks in front of it. It’s going to stay down as long as I live here…