Bam! Garage door over-the-door torsion spring snapped! How to replace?

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On Sat, 17 Nov 2012 18:01:27 -0600, Vic Smith wrote:

I don't disagree. The whole thing does not seem as dangerous as it really is, simply because there is no difficulties. Of course, were something to break or slip - THEN - it would be over in a flash.
The good news is that I just fixed two of the three problems I found after I was done.
1. The door wasn't level (now fixed as per below). 2. The spring was 1/4 turn too tight (now fixed as per below). 3. The bracket is being forced to bend (not good - no solution yet).
1. The door was 1/4 inch too high on the right side (probably due to my mistake of leaving the picklefork under the door) so I lowered it by 1/4 inch by loosening the cable drum as per this wonderful "Leveling Garage Doors" DDM DIY: http://ddmgaragedoors.com/diy-instructions/leveling-garage-door.php
Here is a before and after photo of the door, perfectly leveled now: BEFORE LEVELING:
AFTER LEVELING:

2. The spring was about 1/4 turn too tight as the door was shooting upward at the midway point - even though it stayed at the bottom and middle if you didn't move it. So, I simply unwound the spring by 1/4 turn as shown here:

3. The bracket is bending! It's only held in with a single bolt! There is no bushing nor a bearing. It just doesn't look like it's mounted correctly. This is the topic of a more recent thread so I only mention this problem here.
Other than that third problem, which isn't of my making, although I wish I knew to look for it BEFORE the spring broke ... I would consider this, my first torsion spring R&R DIY a success.
Thanks to everyone for your advice & encouragement!
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Danny D. wrote:

Good job. I'm glad you asked a lot of questions and took safety seriously.
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On Mon, 19 Nov 2012 12:41:54 -0600, G. Morgan wrote:

Thanks. Dan Musick at DDM Garage doors told me that I was very detail oriented, and he was able to help me simply by looking at the pictures & videos I posted.
Here is a video looking at the spring end plate:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNAfZP1bMQM

And here's a video looking at the bearing end plate:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHKjGDqz9wE

If you guys need a torsion spring, and advice, I highly recommend DDM Garage Doors!
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Vic Smith wrote:

It's no big deal. I used to do it all the time when I worked on the cable drums. Just make damn sure the winding bar is seated all the way in.
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On Mon, 19 Nov 2012 12:40:24 -0600, G. Morgan wrote:

That's why I taped the ends and listened for the click of them seating (as Dan Musick says in his wonderful DIYs).
I've wound and unwound this one spring perhaps a half dozen times this weekend - so I can attest that it can be done safely.
See this picture for how I set it up for safety:

What you don't see in that picture is the garage door opener mechanically disconnected and unplugged; and the safety glasses; and me keeping standing on a sturdy step ladder keeping my head out of the danger zone.
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On Sat, 10 Nov 2012 12:24:59 -0600, G. Morgan wrote:

Wow. You live on a different planet from California prices!
BTW, I just now weighed the 7' tall by 8' wide steel garage door, and I was shocked it's 185 pounds (and not 135# which one installer told me based on my description of the door).

Lesson: Don't trust what the installer says on the phone!
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Danny D. wrote:

135 Lbs. sounded pretty light to me.
Back when I used extension springs I'd have to lift the door all the way up without assistance of springs. I can easily lift an 8 x 7, but the 16 x 7's were a real bitch! I'd heave it up to my belt line, then "bench press" it the rest of the way to get some vise-grips on the track to hold it while I installed the springs. Extension springs are way more dangerous than torsion springs. I've seen the aftermath of one that snapped that didn't have a safety cable running through the middle. It shot through the other side of the garage and two layers of sheetrock.
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On Sat, 10 Nov 2012 19:30:08 +0000 (UTC), "Danny D."

done 1 set of ball joints..but gets used about 4 times a week for all sorts of other things...
<G>
Gunner
-- ""
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On Sat, 10 Nov 2012 12:30:19 -0800, Gunner wrote:

Ah, you noticed that!
That pickle fork I bought in, oh, the early 1980s to replace my ball joints - and it's still being put to use!
If I had the 18-inch long steel winding bars, I could also have just wound the door up and then let it sit back down on the scale.
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Danny D. wrote:

Two guys can lift it easily. One guy can lift it with some difficulty.
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On Sat, 10 Nov 2012 16:12:29 -0600, G. Morgan wrote:

One problem is getting your hands on it because of the cheap plastic Taylor door handles.
Unfortunately, all there is, is one cheap plastic handle, way down low.
Trying to lift 127 pounds with that cheap plastic handle where you can only get one hand on it at a time, and you're half bent over, is, I think, the real challenge in lifting it up.
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On Sat, 10 Nov 2012 21:29:58 +0000 (UTC), "Danny D."

I was trained years ago to See stuff in photos. Sometimes it a curse too. Particularly in my own photos. Sigh....

One of the reasons to never throw Stuff away.
<Grin>
-- ""
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On Sat, 10 Nov 2012 19:30:08 +0000, Danny D. wrote:

I just got off the phone Dan Musick of DDM doors who said that there's no way my 2 7/8" thick steel (both sides) door is 185 pounds - so the scale must be lying to me (by 60 pounds!). http://ddmgaragedoors.com 630-293-1337
He says that it must be a Taylor door (due to the black plastic hinges) and that an 8 foot wide by 7 foot double sided steel Taylor door would be about 127 pounds (which is about right for the original spring which has an unusual 13 inch track radius).
We double-checked the coils to be 0.234" 30 coils = 7 inches = 0.233" 20 coils = 4 5/8 inches = 0.231" 10 coils = 2 3/8 inches = 0.237" Note: A micrometer came up with 0.242" but it's not accurate on curves.
And, we doublechecked the length at 26.5 inches by loosening the winding cone and slapping both ends of the broken spring together.
Moral of the story: - Don't trust micrometers & digital bathroom scales!
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Just to give you an update ... I'm waiting for the upgraded torsion spring & tools to arrive - and I will post pictures of the thicker spring & new tools when UPS arrives with it.
Meanwhile, now that I know what to look for, I looked at my second (larger) garage door to find the wrong hinges installed, broken hinges, and even a badly cracked bottom corner (the wood is split in half!).
So, by way of update, here is a picture of what I'm dealing with, while I wait for the torsion spring to arrive from UPS.

Thank you for your help. I've learned a ton and I now have the confidence to replace my own torsion spring, when it arrives.
Without a.h.r., this learning task would be nearly impossible.
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On Mon, 12 Nov 2012 17:05:28 +0000 (UTC), "Danny D."

That's a bit strange. Wonder how that happened. I've only seen normal weathering and common joint separation with my wooden garage doors. Never a crack or serious wood splitting. Very old doors.
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On Mon, 12 Nov 2012 11:49:13 -0600, Vic Smith wrote:

The Taylor door is probably circa 1990'ish.
I wonder if the fact that more than a few of the black plastic (nylon) hinges had already been replaced put more stress on the bottom corner?
Also, the fact that the #1 and #3 positions on one side BOTH were prior replaced with #1 steel hinges ...makes me wonder about stresses applied.
Lastly, at least one #14 inch-long sheet-metal screw is missing from that bottom corner - so - I have to wonder what that means for the tremendous stress applied when the door is down.
From outside, it looks like the door had a major 'problem' at some point - based on these uneven gauges all along both jambs.
RIGHT SIDE GOUGES:

LEFT SIDE GOUGES:

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On Sat, 10 Nov 2012 11:37:10 -0600, Vic Smith

Pretty much typical for California
Gunner
-- ""
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On Sun, 04 Nov 2012 01:14:17 +0000, Danny D. wrote:

FINAL UPDATE: Here is a quick writeup for another person like I am who had never replaced a garage door torsion spring before today.
First, it is helpful if you read this entire thread BEFORE your spring snaps (and particularly notice the things that I WISH I had noticed before the spring snapped). Namely ... 1. Check your hinges (mine were broken on my larger door) 2. Measure your spring (write the size on the wall) 3. Check your garage door level (mine was 1/4" tilted after the spring) 4. Check the balance (mine was 1/4 turn too tight after the new spring) 5. Lubricate moving parts (results in a more peaceful operation) 6. And, most important: Check your center bracket with the door up & down! (Mine appears to have been improperly mounted.)
I won't go into the details of the issues above since they're already well covered in the associated thread.
What I will say is my 'impression' of the job - now that I've joined the ranks of those who have actually replaced a garage door torsion spring.
First off, you MUST read the Richard Kinch garage door torsion spring DIY! http://www.truetex.com/garage.htm His logic is impeccable.
But, do not follow Richard's DIY (it's too difficult a read); follow Dan Musick's DIY over here (and buy the torsion springs from Dan also!): ONE SPRING: http://ddmgaragedoors.com/diy-instructions/single-tsreplacement.php TWO SPRINGS: http://ddmgaragedoors.com/diy-instructions/replace-garage-door-torsion-springs.php Buying from Dan allows you to call him - and he always picks up the phone! Buy the two solid steel bars from Dan also - he's cheaper than anyone else other than a big box store - but you only save a buck or two by not using Dan so I used him to ensure I had the right sized tools.
Now comes the big revelation (now that I've done it): Replacing a torsion spring isn't hard at all. In fact, unless something breaks or slips (or you do something stupid), it's entirely trivial to replace a garage door torsion spring!
As you can tell, I read every DIY I could find, and I called Dan quite a few times to ask questions. I upgraded my spring to a thicker spring with more than double the original duty cycle. Total cost was around $75 for the spring, cones, solid winding bars, and shipping. It would have cost $150 to $200 to have someone else do it - although it would have NOT taken the two weeks it took me to learn all that I learned.
Had I replaced with the original spring size, it would have saved me only $10 or $15 ... so the cost of the spring is negligible.
The real cost (and satisfaction) of a DIY is the effort expended to learn how a garage door really works.
For example, it was new to me that the tracks are pitched backward the same amount that the hinges are graduated forward - in order to wedge the door tightly against the elements.
Also, it was new to me that the hollow rod across the doorway actually moved side to side, as the door opened and closed.
Likewise, it was news to me that the torsion spring is what lifts the door - the opener simply provides direction (and a tiny pull or push).
Before this job, I didn't know how to maintain a garage door. Before this job, I didn't know how to check for broken hinges. I didn't even know how to look for proper garage door alignment.
All this (and more), you'll learn when you replace your first garage door torsion spring!
In the end, after reading and doing, I would say this is an EASY job. Almost a very easy job!
On a scale of 1 to 10, it's about a 2 on tools required (all you need is a 9/16ths & 3/8ths inch open-end wrench, two large vise grips, and two 18" long 1/2" diameter solid steel winding bars) and about a 2 or 3 on expertise required (assuming you read Richard's & Dan's DIYs).
HOWEVER YOU SHOULD NOT ATTEMPT THIS WITHOUT READING THOSE DIYs!
It's too easy to make a mistake - but - if you simply follow Dan's DIY, you can't make a mistake unless you don't follow his directions!
The force you need was minimal. I would say every red-blooded American male easily has the strength to wind a 0.250" thick two-inch ID torsion spring 30 quarter turns as I just did.
At no point did I 'feel' threatened by the spring - although I took all precaution that Dan recommended (safety glasses, safety zone, etc.).
Yes, something could go wrong. But, if you asked me, I'd say I'm more afraid of operating a chain saw on a tree than replacing a torsion spring. I'd be more afraid about removing a bee's nest. Or sliding down a slippery slope on my back.
This job is really not as frightening as people make it out to be. To be sure, I did read about all the broken bones (Dan had a few stories of his own) and the impalements and the death that can occur - but I have to say, I followed directions - and I never felt an oh-shoot moment. It was actually undramatic.
So, in hindsight, I would recommend this job to anyone willing to read the DIYs and willing to follow them and willing to doublecheck each step. If you're willing to do that, you'll know your garage door better - you'll have better springs - your door may be better balanced - smoother operating - and your hinges will be in better shape.
Thanks to everyone! Good luck to all.
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Might be nice to rewrite subject line to make it easy to search for on usenet archives. But, I'm not sure what it currently says using my abbreviated title using my usenet reader for iPad.
Greg
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On Sun, 18 Nov 2012 01:09:46 +0000 (UTC), "Danny D."

Nice job. Don't know if you mentioned the option of going to 2 springs. Ran across it trying to understand the torsion forces. http://ddmgaragedoors.com/diy-instructions/two-spring-garage-door-spring-conversion.php
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