The $45 Garage Door Fix That Could Save You From a Very Bad Day

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An important safety feature of garage doors often goes overlooked, and we don’t mean the anti-pinch beam.

Garage doors, even those without openers, use some sort of spring to help them up and to slow the rate at which they come down. When the door is up, the springs hang slack, but when the door is down, those springs are under tension. That stored energy is very dangerous if a spring should break, and they all do at some point. When the spring lets go, it can send the spring shooting across your garage and harm you, or worse, hit your car!

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Garage doors have two types of spring mechanisms. The first is the type depicted here: Two springs that carry the load of the door, that are mounted more or less parallel with the garage door track. You want to be careful doing any kind of service to a door like this, because in the closed position, the springs are under tremendous tension, and in the open position, the heavy door is hanging over your head.

Nevertheless, there are all kinds of DIY operations you can perform on a door like this.

The second kind of garage door spring mechanism is a torsion spring mounted above the garage door, on the header of the garage door opening. THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT APPLY if you have that a torsion spring over the garage door. Be warned, that spring is under constant tension even in the fully open position, and loosening the spring can have dramatically awful results if you do it incorrectly.


Garage door extension springs are located just above the door tracks. A BestRide colleague, Zane Merva of Silikhan Publishing, was home recently when his let go. He told us, “It sounded like a muffled gunshot that rocked the entire house.”

After 14 years of loyal service, Zane’s garage spring gave up the ghost. Luckily, Zane’s spring did have the proper safety feature, a simple wire routed through the spring that keeps it from going ballistic on a path of destruction. You can see the end result above. Notice how the spring hangs by a wire? That wire is the safety lead that keeps it safe. Zane’s finished replacement is shown below. The safety cable can be seen looping around the support at the left side of the image.

Most garage doors are going to have this spring in place, but if your house is older, or if someone has done some less-informed DIY service along the way, it’s well worth checking to see if the safety wire has been added to the spring assembly. If not, adding one is easy.

The video below shows you how to do the job step by step. If you are not confident in your abilities, call a local garage door company to do the work and have the old springs replaced while you’re at it. We found two-packs for sale at the local home supply store for under $50. The safety cable kits also sell separately, and typically less than $15.00. A complete set will cost you less than a tank of gas and can be installed in under an hour.

While you’re at it, if your garage door doesn’t operate quietly and smoothly, get a can of B’Laster Garage Door Lubricant and spray it all along the tracks and the rollers. You’d be shocked at how smoothly your garage door will open and close with just a little lubrication.