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How to Open a Garage Door with Broken Spring: Expert Advice

When faced with a malfunctioning garage door, understanding how to open a garage door with a broken spring can be vital for safety and convenience. Garage door springs are designed to bear the door’s weight and facilitate smooth operation. When spring breaks, the door can become extremely heavy and difficult to lift manually. This situation not only poses a significant inconvenience but also a safety hazard if not handled properly. Broken springs are a common issue, often resulting from wear and tear, rust, or improper maintenance. Knowing the correct steps to take and the precautions necessary can help you manage this problem without causing further damage or risking injury. In this guide, we will walk you through the essential steps and considerations to safely and effectively open a garage door with a broken spring.

Understanding Garage Door Springs

how to open a garage door with broken spring

Garage door springs are critical components in the operation of your garage door. They store mechanical energy and use it to counterbalance the weight of the door, making it possible to lift it with ease. Without functional springs, opening your garage door can become a strenuous and potentially hazardous task.

Types of Garage Door Springs

There are two primary types of garage door springs:

  • Torsion Springs

Torsion springs are a type of spring that operates based on the principle of torque. They are typically located above the garage door, mounted horizontally on a shaft. When the garage door is closed, the torsion springs are wound up, storing potential energy. As the door opens, the springs unwind, releasing their stored energy to assist in lifting the door. This design provides a more balanced and controlled operation of the garage door.

  • Extension Springs

Extension springs are another type of spring used in garage doors, positioned vertically on either side of the door. These springs extend and contract to counterbalance the door’s weight as it opens and closes. When the door is closed, the extension springs are stretched, storing potential energy. As the door opens, the springs contract, helping to lift the door.

Role of Garage Door Springs

Garage door springs play a crucial role in the operation of a garage door system. Their primary function is to counterbalance the weight of the garage door, which can be quite substantial, ranging from 130 to 400 pounds (60 to 180 kg) depending on the material and size of the door. By counterbalancing this weight, the springs make it significantly easier to open and close the garage door, either manually or with an automatic garage door opener.

  • How They Work:

  • Energy Storage: When the garage door is closed, the springs are under tension, storing potential energy. In torsion springs, this is achieved through winding, whereas in extension springs, it is achieved through stretching.

  • Energy Release: As the door opens, the stored energy is released, helping to lift the door. This reduces the amount of force needed by the user or the garage door opener.

  • Balance and Control: The springs ensure that the door remains balanced throughout its movement. This balance prevents the door from slamming shut or flying open, providing a smooth and controlled operation.

  • Importance of Proper Functioning:

  • Ease of Use: With properly functioning springs, the effort required to lift the door is minimal. A person can lift a balanced door with one hand, even though the actual weight of the door is much greater.

  • Safety: Properly balanced springs ensure the door moves smoothly and predictably, reducing the risk of accidents. If the door were to fall suddenly due to a broken spring, it could cause serious injury or damage.

  • Longevity of Components: By counterbalancing the door’s weight, the springs reduce wear and tear on other components of the garage door system, such as the tracks, rollers, and the opener itself. This helps in prolonging the overall lifespan of the system.

  • Impact of a Broken Spring:

  • Increased Weight: When a garage door spring breaks, the door loses its counterbalance. This makes the door extremely heavy and difficult to lift manually. Lifting a garage door without the assistance of springs can be dangerous and is not recommended.

  • Operational Issues: An automatic garage door opener may struggle or fail to lift the door if a spring is broken, as it is not designed to handle the full weight of the door without the assistance of the springs.

  • Safety Hazard: A broken spring can pose a significant safety risk. Without the counterbalance, the door can fall unexpectedly, potentially causing injury to anyone in its path or damaging property.

Assessing the Situation

When dealing with potential issues with your garage door, particularly related to the springs, it’s important to approach the situation methodically and with safety as the top priority. Proper assessment can help in identifying the problem accurately and determining the appropriate course of action.

Safety First

Before attempting any repair or inspection, it’s crucial to ensure your safety and that of anyone else nearby. Here are the key steps to prioritize safety:

  • Disconnect the Automatic Opener

This step prevents the garage door from being accidentally activated while you are inspecting or working on it. Locate the power cord of the automatic opener and unplug it from the electrical outlet. If your opener has a manual disconnect cord (usually a red cord hanging from the opener rail), pull it to disengage the door from the automatic opener mechanism.

  • Wear Protective Gear

To protect yourself from potential injuries, always wear appropriate protective gear. This includes:

  • Gloves: Protect your hands from sharp edges, pinch points, and any potential debris.

  • Safety Glasses: Shield your eyes from dust, debris, or any parts that might unexpectedly snap or break.

  • Hard Hat: In some cases, wearing a hard hat can protect you from overhead hazards, especially if you are working with heavy components above your head.

Signs of a Broken Garage Door Springs

how to open a garage door with broken spring

Identifying the signs of a broken garage door spring can help you address the problem promptly and prevent further damage to the garage door system. Common indicators that a spring may be broken include:

  • The Garage Door Only Opens a Few Inches

One of the most evident signs of a broken spring is when the garage door struggles to open or only lifts a few inches off the ground before stopping. This happens because the spring is no longer providing the necessary counterbalance to lift the door’s weight.

  • The Door Appears Crooked or Misaligned

If the garage door looks uneven or is sagging on one side, it may indicate that one of the springs is broken or has lost tension. This can cause the door to become misaligned and not sit properly on its tracks.

  • You Hear a Loud Bang from the Garage

A loud, sudden bang coming from the garage often indicates that a spring has snapped. This sound is caused by the sudden release of tension in the spring. If you hear such a noise, it’s important to inspect the springs immediately to confirm if one has broken.

Essential Tools Needed

When working on garage door springs or garage door repair, having the right tools is crucial for ensuring both the effectiveness of the repair and your safety. Here’s a detailed look at the essential tools you’ll need for the job.


  • Winding Bars: These are essential for safely winding and unwinding the torsion springs. They come in pairs and are designed to fit into the winding cone of the spring securely.

  • Adjustable Wrench: You’ll need this to loosen and tighten the set screws on the winding cone. It’s important to use the correct size wrench to ensure a firm grip and avoid slipping.

  • Vise Grips or Locking Pliers: These are handy for securing the torsion spring in place once it’s under tension. They help prevent the spring from accidentally unwinding or moving while you work.

  • Socket Wrench Set: A set of sockets and a ratchet will be useful for removing and replacing bolts and nuts that hold the spring assembly and other components of the garage door.

  • Safety Glasses and Gloves: While not traditional “tools,” safety glasses are crucial to protect your eyes from any debris that might fly off during the repair. Gloves provide protection from sharp edges and help with grip.

Step-by-Step Guide

When working on garage door springs, safety, and effectiveness are indeed paramount. Here are the five most important tools you’ll need.

1. Disconnect the Garage Door Opener

Start by locating the emergency release cord hanging from the garage door opener track. Pull this cord to disengage the opener from the door mechanism. This step is crucial to prevent the automatic operation of the door while you’re working on it.

2. Lift the Door Manually

  • Position Yourself Properly: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart to maintain stability.

  • Use Your Legs, Not Your Back: Bend your knees and keep your back straight as you lift. Do not bend at the waist to lift the door. Lift the door slowly and steadily.

  • Enlist Help if Needed: Garage doors can be heavy, especially when springs are under tension. If the door is too heavy to lift alone, ask someone to assist you.

  • Secure the Door Once It’s Open: After lifting the door fully open, prevent it from closing unexpectedly by securing it with C-clamps or locking pliers. Place these on the tracks just below the rollers on both sides of the door. This precaution ensures the door remains safely open during repairs.

3. Secure the Door

After opening the door manually and ensuring it stays open with clamps or locking pliers, double-check the stability and make sure it is securely held in place. This prevents any accidental closing of the door, which could cause injury or damage.

Temporary Solutions and Precautions

how to open a garage door with broken spring

When dealing with a malfunctioning garage door spring, it’s important to implement temporary solutions to ensure safety and prevent further damage.

Using Vice Grips

  • To prevent the garage door from moving unexpectedly, attach vice grips securely to the tracks just below the bottom rollers. This helps hold the door in place and prevents it from sliding down due to lack of spring tension.

Temporary Fixes

  • Add Weight to the Door: If the garage door needs to remain open temporarily but lacks spring tension, consider placing sandbags or similar heavy objects on the bottom section of the door. This helps counterbalance the weight and reduces the risk of the door slamming shut.

  • Reinforce the Door: For added security, use ropes or sturdy straps to secure the door in the open position. Fasten these securely to the tracks or other fixed points to prevent accidental closure.

Avoiding Further Damage

  • Do Not Operate with Automatic Opener: Avoid using the automatic garage door opener until the springs are repaired or replaced. Operating the door with a broken spring can strain the opener mechanism and cause further damage.

  • Avoid Makeshift Repairs: While temporary fixes can be necessary for safety, avoid using makeshift repairs that could fail unexpectedly. These could lead to injuries or additional damage to the door or opener mechanism.


Can you manually open a garage door with a broken spring?

Yes, you can manually open a garage door with a broken spring, but it will be much heavier and require more effort. It’s crucial to exercise caution and use proper lifting techniques to avoid injury.

What happens if a garage door spring breaks?

When a garage door spring breaks, the door becomes very heavy and challenging to lift manually. Attempting to operate the door with a broken spring can potentially cause damage to the opener and other parts of the door mechanism.

How to open a garage door from the outside?

To open a garage door from the outside without an automatic opener, you typically need to insert a key into the lock cylinder, turn it, and then lift the door manually from the bottom using the handle or panels.

How to open a garage door manually?

To open a garage door manually, start by locating the emergency release cord usually hanging from the opener rail. Pull this cord to disengage the opener, then lift the door slowly and steadily using your legs, not your back. Use vice grips or clamps to secure the door in the open position once lifted.

Can a garage door work without springs?

No, a garage door cannot function properly without springs. Springs are essential for counterbalancing the weight of the door, making it possible to lift and lower manually or with an opener. Operating a garage door without springs can strain the opener and lead to significant damage.

How long does it take to fix a broken garage spring?

Repairing a broken garage door spring typically takes about 1 to 2 hours for a professional technician to complete. The exact time can vary depending on the type of spring, the complexity of the repair, and any additional adjustments needed to ensure the proper functioning of the door.


Navigating a broken garage door spring can be daunting, but with the right knowledge and precautions, you can ensure both safety and peace of mind. At Arnold’s Garage Door, we understand the urgency and importance of resolving such issues promptly. Our commitment to providing reliable service and expert guidance is aimed at restoring your garage door’s functionality efficiently.

By following the steps outlined in this guide, you’ve taken a proactive step toward managing a challenging situation. Remember, safety always comes first. If you’re unsure or encounter difficulties along the way, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team of experienced professionals. We’re here to assist you with comprehensive repair services tailored to your needs.

At Arnold’s Garage Door, we’re not just about fixing doors; we’re about ensuring your home’s security and your family’s convenience. Trust us to handle your new garage door needs with care and expertise. Contact us today to discover how we can help restore your garage door to its optimal performance, ensuring smooth operation for years to come. Your satisfaction and safety are our top priorities.

End Note

Arnold’s Garage Door Service is your trusted partner for all your garage door needs. From installation and maintenance to swift repairs, our expert team ensures your garage door operates seamlessly. Explore our diverse range of services and view our craftsmanship on our Garage Door Services and Gallery pages.

Serving various locations, we bring top-tier service right to your doorstep. Discover if we cover your area through our Service Areas page and learn about our commitment to excellence on our About Us page.

Stay updated with our latest insights and advice on garage door care by following our blog. Connect with us on Facebook for real-time updates, customer stories, and engaging content.

Ready to elevate your garage door experience? Contact us today via our Contact Us page. At Arnold’s Garage Door Service, your satisfaction is our priority. Reach out now and discover the difference!

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