WHAT DO MOST GARAGE DOOR COMPANIES DO: - Most charge around $150 to $200 and will do a great job. - Most promise same day and next-day service. - I could do the entire job in an hour - so I'm sure they can too. - Most will simply replace the old spring with the same size new spring. - Some will 'upgrade' the spring to a longer-life spring (others won't). - Some may charge for that longer-life upgrade; others won't. - Most will adjust and lubricate the door and GDO as a bonus to you. - Some may try to sell you useless extras, such as galvanized springs or warranties (the 800 numbers I called were the worst offenders).
MAINTENANCE: - Snap a picture today of your torsion spring setup (I wish I had this). - Lubricate the garage door rollers, hinges, GDO mechanism, and torsion bar bearings (two to three of those bearings may be installed). - Check that the door is parallel when raised and vertical when lowered. - Operate the door by hand to check spring balance at multiple positions. - Close the door and check for tilt by looking for light at the bottom.
RESEARCH: - I've watched EVERY torsion spring DIY on YouTube and none beat DDM Garage Doors - so all you need is the ddmgaragedoors.com web site. - The Richard Kinch truetex web site is the second site you'll need. - No other web sites are needed although I've read EVERY alt.home.repair thread that mentions garage doors that I can find in the groups.google.com archive and while there is 'some' really good information on a.h.r - most of the threads also contain contradictory garbage, and therefore you must take every thread with a grain of salt.
REPLACEMENT: - Replacing a torsion spring is easy and requires basic tools. - The only special tool are two 18" long 1/2" diameter winding bars. - A few open end wrenches and a large vise grip is all else you'll need. - Basically, to remove a single broken torsion spring you climb on your stepladder, unbolt the two set bolts on the winding cone and remove the two nuts on the spring end plate side. After marking the location of the cable drums on the torsion rod, you loosen the set bolts on both cable drums, and then you simply slide the broken torsion spring off the torsion rod, leaving the torsion rod at the top of the door and only removing the one cable drum on the side away from the spring anchor plate. - Basically, to replace the torsion spring, you side the spring onto the torsion rod, add a bearing if desired, line up the cable drum prior marks and tighten the cable drums snug against the bearing end plates and insert the cables holding them in place with a vice grip tensioning the tension bar and then proceed to wind the spring. When wound the prescribed 30 quarter turns (7 1/2 full turns for a 7 foot tall door), you push out the spring about a quarter inch, and then tighten the winding cone set bolts. Then you check and adjust and lubricate the hinges, rollers, bearings, and GDO mechanism. - If it's a two-spring system, the only additional initial step is to unwind the unbroken spring before touching anything. Unwinding the old spring is even easier than winding the new spring and is simply the reverse operation of 30 quarter turns (7 1/2 full turns) for a 7 foot tall door.
DANGER: - I searched the news.google.com archives for gory stories of residential homeowners being hurt or killed by winding garage door springs at home, and, I just couldn't find much. This doesn't indicate much other than it's not a big newsworthy topic I guess - but it's a datapoint. - EVERY (and I mean every) site says it's dangerous - just as chain saws and table saws and 220 volt motors and swimming pools are dangerous when accidents happen - so I'll repeat what the sites say. It is dangerous. - Winding torsion springs is dangerous because "something can go wrong", and because "something can break". - However, having said that, if you take normal precautions against both of those possibilities, you too can (easily) wind a torsion spring. - There are plenty of things NOT to do, by the way, when winding torsion springs ... but the list of things to do are well spelled out at the DDM Garage Door web site. - Personally, at no point did I "feel" dire danger, especially after having removed and reinstalled my torsion spring a half-dozen times. It became 'almost' routine (therein lies the biggest danger, I suspect, to garage door repairmen). - The amount of force needed to wind a 0.250" 36" long torsion spring with 18" steel bars is well within the strength of a normal man.
THEORY: - The torsion spring acts like a counterweight to balance the (appreciable) weight of the door. - The GDO merely pushes the door open or closed - and in and of itself does NOT open the door. - The only lateral movement, assuming the cable drums are tightened against the bearing end plates, as the door goes up and down is merely the distance between the coils of the springs. - Everything else should be locked down tightly (which was my problem). - In general, the garage door repair company skimps on the springs, by default, by giving you a 10,000 cycle spring. - You can ask for longer cycle springs, which, if you keep to the same inside diameter, are merely thicker gauge wire. - The only thing that matters is the IPPT (inch pounds per turn) that you need. Your garage door has a weight and a track & drum geometry that determines the IPPT you need. Period. - So, whatever new springs you put on must exert the same IPPT as the old springs. Period. - Most people want longer-lasting springs, so, all you need is either a wider inside diameter spring with the same IPPT or a thicker gauge spring with the same IPPT. - In general, you likely won't opt for a wider ID so your choice is merely a thicker gauge spring. - Adding a second spring does NOT in any way improve your number of cycles (only the spring geometry makes a difference in lifetime). - Adding a second spring has some benefits - but they're relatively minor. - Your limiting factor in improving lifetime will be how much room you have as thicker-gauge springs with the same ID and IPPT will be longer than the original.