An integral part of an overhead rolling garage door system is the spring (or springs) that serves to assist either manual or mechanized opening and closing of the overhead door. There are two types of spring systems: a torsion spring system in which a single coiled spring running parallel to the door serves to counter the weight of the door; or an extension spring system in which two springs, one on either side of the door running parallel to the overhead door tracks, does the work.
In either case, the springs are part of the door system itself, not part of the automatic garage door opener. If you are up to the job of replacing the springs yourself, costs for parts alone range from about $65 to $85 for a pair of torsion springs, or $25 to $40 for a pair of extension springs. Extension springs, however, are often sold in kits that include other parts, such as door rollers. Costs for a complete kit can increase the cost to $75 or more.
While you can save money by doing this work yourself, replacing garage door springs is no easy job, and it can be hazardous. Most people are well-advised to have pros do this work. Before attempting this project yourself, make sure you understand how the system works.
The Function of Garage Door Springs
Torsion springs and extension springs are kept under enormous pressure when the door is shut to help assist it upwards when you want to open it. With torsion springs, this pressure is created by the springs being tightly coiled and compressed, usually by a metal cable drum that tightens the spring as the door is lowered. With extension springs, the pressure is created when the springs, which run parallel to the overhead tracks, are stretched out when the door is lowered. Without the springs, a garage door, which can weigh several hundred pounds, is nearly impossible to lift and lower, either by hand or by the relatively small electric motors found on mechanical garage door openers. Lowering a garage door without springs is a dangerous affair because the door can easily slam down violently.
Some garage door springs can last as long as 30 years, but like any moving metal part, springs eventually wear out or break due to fatigue. When one of the springs breaks, your garage door will cease to operate properly. If you operate the garage door by hand, you'll notice that the door begins to feel very heavy to lift, or it may slam down hard when you close it. If you have an automatic garage door opener, the electric motor may stop working properly, unable to handle the weight.
DIY Replacement vs. Professional Repair
Both torsion and extension springs are relatively affordable parts, usually selling for under $100 per pair. This makes DIY replacement seem like a pretty good option, but be aware that you may also need other tools to do that job safely. And if done by amateurs working without proper knowledge, serious injury can occur when replacing garage door springs. These metal parts operate under great pressure, so make sure you read directions carefully and follow them exactly if you choose to do this work yourself.
Cost of Professional Replacement
The costs to repair your garage door springs will depend on the condition of your garage, the type of garage door you have, the type of springs required, where you live, and which company is performing the job. If you have the work done by professionals, national figures compiled by trade organizations show an average cost of about $250, within a range of $150 to $350.
Like any service work, the cost of this repair is a matter of supply and demand—where labor is cheap and there is an ample number of businesses who do this work, costs will be lower. Keep in mind that while only one spring may have broken, springs are mounted in pairs; if one has broken the other may also be worn and should be replaced at the same time.To get an accurate cost, place a service call to two or three different companies in your area to compare quotes.
Some garage door companies offer springs of different quality levels with different life expectancies, as indicated by the length of the warranties. A $200 spring replacement might be warranted for only one or two years, while a more expensive replacement job might get you "lifetime warranty" springs. The life expectancy of garage springs is sometimes measured by "cycles" rather than years. For example, cheaper springs may be listed as having 10,000 cycles of use, which translates into a spring that can be expected to open and close four times a day for perhaps six or seven years before beginning to lose strength.
If you are having garage door springs replaced, it may be a good idea to also inspect the automatic garage door opener and replace it if necessary. A garage door opener that has been lifting and lowering a heavy door with aging springs may well be nearing the end of its life, and it can be cost-effective to replace both the springs and door opener at the same time.
Cost of DIY Replacement
Estimating the cost of replacing the springs yourself is slightly less straightforward than estimating the cost of professional replacement. This is because there are several factors to consider when coming up with the final price, and not all of them are monetary.
- Cost of the springs: Garage door springs themselves are fairly inexpensive. They can usually be purchased from online retailers or a big-box home improvement center for less than $100 per set, even for top-end springs. Be sure to take an old spring with you to the store or jot down all the specifications to ensure that you get an exact replacement.
- Cost of other tools: It doesn't take a lot of tools or equipment to change a garage door spring, but it does require some things, such as a clamp to hold the door in place while you change it, and safety goggles and gloves to help ensure safety. The cost of these items needs to be factored into the door spring replacement cost, as well. If you don't have a step stool or stepladder, you'll need to buy or borrow one of those, as well.
- Cost of time: Replacing the garage door springs is not a very difficult job, but it does take time, particularly if this is the first time you've done it. The time it takes you to find and purchase the correct spring and tools for the job; the time it takes you to familiarize yourself with the door and the springs and learn the procedure; and finally, the time it takes you and a helper to replace the springs—all these considerations contribute to the total "costs" of this repair job. It's not uncommon for a DIYer to take a full weekend to do this project, so carefully consider how much you value the time required. When you think about it carefully, $300 or $350 for professional spring replacement may begin to seem like a bargain.
The Bottom Line
When determining the costs of replacing your garage door springs, don't forget to factor in the many different components as you weigh your decision. While you might well be able to do the job yourself in a weekend for $50 to $100, you may decide that the convenience and confidence that comes from having a pro do the work in a fraction of the time is well worth the extra cost.