AAAA! I'm in garage door torsion spring hell! AAAAA!
October 24, 2006 7:01 AM   Subscribe

Please help save me from garage door torsion spring hell!

First up: I am aware that replacing a torsion spring is very dangerous, and am taking much precaution.

Here's the story: I have a 2 car garage, single door, 7' high, 16' wide. The door is an Ideal brand, with what I believe is called an EZ-Set torsion spring. The spring is located at the far left of the door, and has a housing with a socket fitting, so you can adjust the tension with an electric drill.

Here's a photo:

It broke on Friday night. The repair guy came sunday morning, and said he can't replace the spring, all he can do is replace EVERYTHING for $800. So I set out on my own to find a new spring.

The nightmare continues. After calling several dealers, stores, and the manufacturer, my only option is to obtain the model number of the door so I can get the part number of the spring, and then go through Menards (the seller of this brand of door) to order the spring. Sound easy? Well, whoever installed the door forgot to attach the sticker with the model and serial number, so I have no way of identifying the door. The manufacturer said they cannot identify the spring or door by a photo, either.

This is not some obscure brand of door, they sell it at Menard's, a popular home improvement store in the area. I have been told that installers don't use or carry these springs because they don't last, but from what I know, this was installed in '99, and 7 years is the typical life span of a garage door torsion spring under normal use in a 2 car garage. Is the reason that this one is significantly easier and safer to install, thereby making it a DIY project and cutting out much of the overhead door installation racket---i mean market?

Anyone have any experience with this?
posted by bradn to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
Response by poster: well, the photo loaded on my preview...
Let's try again:
posted by bradn at 7:09 AM on October 24, 2006

I've done the torsion spring DIY thing. A few months later I had a professional do it right. It's not a hard task (I watched what he did), but if you don't know what you're doing, it's very difficult to get it right.

I would call a different garage door company- especially one that deals with the brand name of your door (ask ahead of time) and get a quote on spring replacement.
posted by Doohickie at 7:51 AM on October 24, 2006

Matt's temporarily turned images off, bradn. I can't help you with the spring, though.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:57 AM on October 24, 2006

We had our spring replaced by a garage door company for about $150, if I remember right.
posted by rfs at 8:57 AM on October 24, 2006

Response by poster: Ok, I got the part number, i guess i just needed to talk to the right person.
posted by bradn at 9:46 AM on October 24, 2006

Here is a howto on replacing torsion springs that I found shortly after the spring broke on my garage door. I had a coupon for service from Precision Overhead Door (a nationwide franchise, apparently) so I called them instead of doing it myself. What a fiasco. The guy tried to sell my wife a whole new door, then replaced the spring with a different (longer) one and moved the garage door opener track so that the trolley gouged up the ceiling. Also, he left frayed support cables in place, even though they're an $8 part and trivial to replace when you're doing the spring anyway.

I wrote to the company and franchisor to complain, but never heard back. Never, never, never deal with Precision Overhead Door. I wouldn't be surprised to find that other vendors are as bad.

Certainly, I wouldn't consider hiring somebody who said they couldn't just replace the spring, only the whole door. It's possible that the door is trashed, but you should be convinced yourself that you need a new one. I'm sure that's a very lucrative job for a garage door company, so of course they're going to push for it, and do a shitty job if you only want to replace parts.

I'm fairly certain you don't need to replace the spring with the exact same model. What you really need is the same spring constant, number of turns, load limit, and so forth. Unfortunately, finding that information will probably be pretty difficult. OTOH, if you're like me, the difficulty of tracking it down is nothing compared to the annoyance of paying a supposed expert several hundred dollars to do a lousy job.
posted by spacewrench at 9:49 AM on October 24, 2006

I second the idea of calling another company. I had to have mine done a couple of years ago and the locally based guy I called came out and replaced both springs (which is what should be done) in less than an hour and charged somewhere around $100. I have since used his company to help with a problematic opener and once again the service was quick and the prices reasonable. I am willing to tackle most do-it yourself projects, but left this one to the professionals because of the risk involved, the likelihood of screwing it up and calling a pro anyway, and the difficulty finding the right parts and tools. If they sell the doors at Menards they might be able to point you to a reputable service company or even do the repair through their own subcontractors.
posted by TedW at 11:12 AM on October 24, 2006

If you have a few square feet of open space, how about replacing the spring with a counterweight, the way many windows are?
You would need a substantial weight, and it would work best if you give it a pivot so when the door is open, the weight hangs straight down. The door travels so far that you might need to add a pulley to change the weight/door travel ratio, but I think it could be done for under $50:
weight, 2x4, big bolt for a pivot, pulley, strong rope.
Just trying to think outside the box...
posted by wzcx at 11:55 AM on October 24, 2006

Response by poster: spacewrench: Precision was the company that I called. They charged me $50 to tell me that they could only fix it by replacing everything for $800. I called the next day and complained and they refunded the $50. Both the tech and the guy on the phone were very nice and courteous, but still, they couldn't fix the spring, which makes the claim in their ad "We service and repair all brands" false advertising.
A few of the other places I called also told me that they don't install or repair EZ-Set because "They don't last."

I just picked up the spring i need over lunch. The place I found claimed they had it in stock when i called, but hesitated when I got there. They ended up having to make one for me, but I got it.

I guess sometimes you really have to fight to Do It Yourself.
posted by bradn at 2:11 PM on October 24, 2006

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