How to Adjust a Garage Door Tension Rod

Over the years you may begin to notice that your garage door seems heavier to open. Weather and paint change the weight of a door over time, requiring adjustments to the springs. Springs that are on a tension rod have special procedures. Tension rod springs are torsion bars inserted into springs. This type of spring system requires solid steel winding bars to adjust the springs safely. Winding bars are available at garage door dealers. Torsion springs are dangerous since they are under extreme tension. Failure to wind the springs properly can cause serious injury and damage to your garage.

Close the garage door fully and engage the garage door lock. Lock a pair of vice grips on the front of one side of the track above the second roller. The vice grips act as a secondary lock to prevent the door from rising up when you adjust the springs.

Position a stepladder under the end of the torsion spring pointing toward the door tracks. Lock a pair of vice grips around the top of the torsion bar, halfway between the cable drum and the spring with the handles of the vice grips resting on the wall. This keeps the cables tight on the drum when you loosen the spring. If you have two springs on the door you do not need to use vice grips on the torsion bar.

Insert the end of one winding bar into one of the holes on the outside perimeter of the spring winding cone. The winding cone is the end of the spring pointing toward the track. Hold the other end of the winding bar firmly and expect the downward force of pressure when you loosen the spring set screws.

Turn the two set screws on the winding cone counterclockwise with a 3/8-inch wrench. Slowly allow the winding bar to rotate toward the door from the pressure on the spring. Place the second winding bar in your hand. Raise the first winding bar to rotate the spring until you can insert the second winding bar into the next hole.

Insert the second winding bar into the next hole below the first winding bar. Pull the first winging bar out while maintaining your grip on the second. Slowly allow the winding bar to rotate toward the door. Tighten the set screws on the winding cone with the 3/8-inch wrench. Insert the free winding bar into a hole above the winding bar in the spring. Gently pull up on the winding bar until you can pull the one against the door out of the spring. Remove both winding bars.

Remove the vice grips from the torsion bar and the door track. Unlock the garage door and test the door balance. Raise the door halfway into the opening and hold it there. Release your hold, and the door should stay in position. If the door raises or lowers slightly on its own, the door is still considered balanced.

Continue making tension adjustments as necessary following the same procedure. if you have two springs on the door, adjust the opposite spring before going back to the first.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 pairs of vice grips
  • Stepladder
  • Pair of winding bars
  • 3/8-inch wrench
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About the Author

Kenneth Crawford is a freelance writer with more than 10 years of experience. His work has appeared in both print and online publications, including "The American Chronicle." Crawford holds an associate degree in business administration from Commonwealth College.