How to Balance a Garage Door

A garage door that is properly balanced is crucial for smooth and safe operation. An unbalanced garage door can be difficult to open and close, cause excessive wear on parts, and be a safety hazard if it opens or closes unexpectedly. Balancing a garage door involves adjusting the torsion springs, cables, and other hardware so that the door’s weight is counterbalanced through its full range of motion. With some basic tools and mechanical aptitude, homeowners can balance their own garage doors to restore proper function.

Gather the Necessary Tools and Materials

Balancing a garage door requires some specific tools and supplies:

  • Torsion spring bars – Long, solid metal rods used to adjust torsion springs. They fit into adjustment holes or winding cones on the springs.
  • Ratchet wrench – Used to loosen and tighten the spring cones to adjust spring tension. A 1/2″ drive ratchet is ideal.
  • Cable drum adjustment tool – Specialty tool used to tighten and loosen cable drums when adjusting cable length.
  • Ladder – A sturdy ladder allows safe access to work on top of the garage door.
  • Gloves – Leather gloves help protect your hands when handling cables and springs.
  • Rags and cleaner – For wiping down parts during the process.
  • Safety glasses – For eye protection from dust and springs.
  • Marker – To mark the existing spring settings prior to adjustment.
  • WD-40 – For lubricating springs, cones, and shafts.
  • Assistant – Having someone to help with the process makes balancing much easier.

Make sure all tools are in good condition, especially the winding bars and ratchet, before beginning. Check that ladder is steady and stable.

Preparing and Checking the Door

Before balancing, test and inspect the door and hardware thoroughly:

  • Open and close the door manually all the way to check for binding or sticking.
  • Inspect condition of cables, track, rollers, hinges, springs.
  • Lift the door halfway up. It should stay in place supported entirely by its springs.
  • Raise and lower door fully to test the safety reverse mechanism.
  • Apply lubricant to rollers, hinges, pulleys if needed.
  • Check for loose or damaged hardware, tighten any loose fasteners.
  • Examine and tighten bolts securing the spring anchor bracket.
  • Replace any worn or defective parts before adjusting springs.

Address any issues before attempting to balance the door. Call a professional for major repairs.

How to Balance a Torsion Spring Garage Door

Torsion spring doors are the most common modern garage door type. The torsion spring runs above the door, mounted to a shaft. Cables attached to the bottom of the springs then connect to the bottom corners of the door. Here are the steps to balance a torsion spring door:

Step 1 – Engage the Emergency Release

  • Locate the emergency release cord and pull it. This disconnects the door from the opener and allows manual operation.
  • Pulling the emergency release handle should also lock the door from the opener. Check that the lock is engaged.
  • Never attempt to balance the a door while connected to automatic opener.

Step 2 – Secure the Door

With the door in the down position, place locking pliers under the door track just above the third roller. This secures the door in place for safety.

Step 3 – Mark Existing Spring Settings

  • Check the current number of turns on each spring. The winding cone at the end of the spring shaft indicates number of turns – mark this with chalk or tape.
  • Write down the number of turns so you can return to this setting if needed. Mark each spring’s setting individually.

Step 4 – Release Spring Tension

  • Use a ratchet wrench to loosen the set screws in the winding cone a half turn.
  • Insert a winding bar into one of the holes and pry downwards to relieve tension. Be extremely cautious as the spring is under tension.
  • Release spring tension in small increments, alternating between both springs until fully unwound.

Step 5 – Adjust Springs Equally

  • Consult your garage door documentation for the ideal number of turns for your door weight and height.
  • Turn winding bars equally on both springs to achieve the proper number of turns indicated.
  • Use a ratchet wrench to tighten the set screws in the winding cones securely when done.

Step 6 – Fine Tune Spring Tension

  • Lift the door manually about halfway up then release gently.
  • Adjust spring tension in 1/4 turn increments until the door balances. It should hold position when released, not drift up or down.
  • Both springs should have the exact same number of turns when properly balanced.
  • Re-tighten the set screws firmly with ratchet wrench when neutral balance is achieved.

Step 7 – Adjust the Cable Drums

  • If the door lifts unevenly, adjust cable length by turning the cable drum with the winding tool.
  • Shorten the cable(s) on the side that lifts too high; lengthen those that are too low.
  • Adjust in very small increments with drum tool, testing door balance until even lift is attained.

Step 8 – Test Operation

  • Raise and lower door fully. It should move smoothly with no binding.
  • Door should hold horizontal position when released. Adjust springs further if needed.
  • Ensure emergency release disconnects properly. Re-engage and test auto opener.
  • Remove any locking pliers or clamps before operating door fully.
  • Apply lubricant to all moving parts – rollers, hinges, pulleys.

How to Adjust Torsion Springs (Without Winding Bars)

Winding bars are the proper, safe tool for adjusting torsion springs. But in an emergency when winding bars are unavailable, you can use a ratchet or wrench directly on the winding bolt:

  • Secure door in down position with locking pliers above third roller.
  • Loosen the set screws on the spring cone 1/2 turn with ratchet wrench.
  • Insert ratchet into winding bolt, turn counter-clockwise to relieve spring tension.
  • Go slowly, release spring a little at a time, alternating between both sides.
  • Once springs are relaxed, adjust both sides equally as needed.
  • Tighten set screws firmly with ratchet wrench when neutral balance is reached.
  • Finish by testing door operation thoroughly.

This method should only be used in an emergency, proper winding bars are far safer and give greater control over spring tension. Never attempt without securing the door first.

How to Balance Extension Springs

Garage doors with extension springs have the springs mounted parallel to the horizontal tracks. They stretch and contract as the door moves. Here’s how to balance the two common extension spring types:

For Open-Coil Extension Springs:

  • Secure the door with locking pliers above the third roller.
  • Loosen the bolts securing the pulley and bracket at the end of the springs.
  • Adjust spring hooks at either end to increase or decrease tension.
  • Stretching spring decreases tension, contracting increases tension.
  • Adjust both springs in small increments with door lifts tested in between.
  • Tighten bolts when balanced. Ensure spring retainers are properly seated in anchor slots.

For Enclosed Extension Springs:

  • Lock the door with pliers above the third roller.
  • Loosen bolts to allow bracket sliding at the ends of the springs.
  • Move one bracket forward or back to adjust spring tension.
  • Alternate adjusting both springs until even lift is achieved.
  • Retighten bolts fully when proper balance is reached.

Test operation when finished and lubricate moving components. Call a pro for adjustments beyond spring hooks or brackets. Never attempt to adjust extension springs without locking the door first.

How to Balance a Garage Door Manually

In a situation where the garage door springs are broken, you can temporarily balance the door manually using clamps and a cable:

  • Engage the manual release to disconnect the automatic opener.
  • At the top section of door, attach a stout cable or reinforced rope.
  • Run the cable to a secure point on the garage wall above the door. Wrap over a sturdy bolt, never just drywall.
  • Use locking pliers or vice grips to clamp the cable at a point that counterbalances the door.
  • Carefully raise and open the door manually, adjusting clamp position as needed.
  • The clamp point may need readjusting for opening/closing. Test thoroughly.
  • For safety, place cones or boards under the open door to prevent free falling if cable fails. Never walk under a door balanced this way.

Use this temporary method very cautiously until springs can be repaired or replaced by a professional. Never lean ladders against the open door or walk under it.

Diagnosing Common Garage Door Balance Problems

Here are some common signs of an unbalanced garage door to watch for:

  • Door contacts floor – If the door is too heavy for the springs, it may hit the floor when opening. Shorten extension spring hooks or add turns to torsion springs.
  • Door drifts up or down – When released halfway, the door should stay in place. If it drifts up or down, the springs need adjustment.
  • Open door sags or leans – A door that looks crooked or warped when open likely has imbalanced springs. Equalize spring tension.
  • Uneven lifting – If one side of door lifts faster or higher, the cables likely need adjusting to equalize lift.
  • Opens hard or jerky – Difficulty opening can signal binding due to imbalance. Spring tension may be too weak or too strong.
  • Excessive vibration – An unbalanced door vibrates and shakes going up and down. Tune springs to smooth the motion.
  • Only opens part way – Weak springs prevent the door from fully opening. Increase turns on torsion springs.
  • Noisy operation – Screeching or grinding noises indicate a balance issue. Lubricate and adjust.

Addressing these issues quickly by properly balancing the door prevents further wear and damage. Call a professional technician for diagnosis if unsure.

How Much Does Garage Door Balancing Cost?

When hiring a professional, expect to pay $150-$300 to have your garage door balanced. Complex doors or extensive repairs will cost more. Here are typical service call fees:

  • Basic door balance adjustment – $150-$225
  • Adding new torsion springs – $200-$400
  • Extension spring replacement – $175-$350
  • Adjusting hardware and lubricating – $150-$250
  • Emergency weekend or after hours service – $250-$500

Several factors affect the overall cost, including:

  • Your location
  • Door size, weight, springs needed
  • Additional repairs required
  • Time/complexity of the job

Get a few estimates to find the best price if cost is a concern. Balancing a garage door yourself only requires tools and your time.

Safety Tips for Balancing a Garage Door

Balancing a garage door can be dangerous if not done with care and precaution:

  • Use solid winding bars, not improvised tools like pipe or wood.
  • Wear protective gloves, eye wear, long sleeves when adjusting springs.
  • Keep your hands clear of moving parts.
  • Secure door with clamps or pliers before adjusting.
  • Work with an assistant to monitor door movement.
  • Use ladders properly, never lean them against the open door.
  • Make incremental adjustments, rechecking balance frequently.
  • Do not try to adjust springs that are heavily worn or damaged.
  • Replace extension spring components in matched sets only.
  • Get help for doors that are very heavy or have multiple springs.

A moment of carelessness can lead to hands or limbs being caught in the hardware. Always focus fully when balancing a door, work slowly and deliberately.


Proper garage door balance is important for smooth operation as well as safety. Symptoms of an unbalanced door include uneven lifting, sagging, difficulty opening, and excessive vibration. Balancing requires adjusting torsion springs, extension spring hooks, and cable lengths in careful increments until the door lifts evenly through its full range. Always secure the door prior to adjustment. Balancing a garage door is a manageable DIY job using winding bars and the proper precautions. Paying a professional costs $150-$300 on average. With time and care, homeowners can balance their own doors to restore performance, safety, and control costs.

FAQs About How to Balance a Garage Door

Balancing a garage door involves adjusting springs, cables, and hardware so the door operates smoothly. Here are some frequently asked questions about balancing garage doors:

How often should you balance a garage door?

Garage doors should be balanced about once a year. Have them checked seasonally and whenever operation seems off. Extension springs may need more frequent adjustment than torsion springs.

Can you balance a garage door without springs?

It’s not recommended to operate a door without functioning springs. You can temporarily manually balance a door by clamping a cable, but this is only a short term fix until springs can be repaired or replaced.

What tools do you need to balance a garage door?

Winding bars, ratchet wrenches, a cable drum tool, ladder, and locking pliers are needed. Safety glasses and work gloves are also important. Sturdy tools designed for garage door work are a must.

How much does it cost to have a professional balance a garage door?

Average costs for professional balancing range from $150-$300. Large or complex door jobs may cost more. Get a few estimates before having work done.

What are signs that your garage door is unbalanced?

Doors that don’t open smoothly, bind, vibrate excessively, or feel too loose or too tight need balancing. If the door contacts the ground or doesn’t lift evenly, it likely needs adjustment.

Should both springs have the same number of turns when balanced?

Yes, torsion springs must be adjusted to the exact same number of turns on both sides to properly counterbalance the door. Uneven turns lead to uneven door lifting.

Can you balance a garage door with the opener connected?

No, you should always balance the door with the automatic opener disconnected and locked out for safety. Use the emergency release to disconnect the automatic drive.

How often should extension springs be balanced?

Check extension springs about once per season. High-use doors may need adjustment as often as monthly. Listen for binding sounds as clues they need adjustment.

What causes garage door springs to go out of balance?

Normal wear and use, spring fatigue, and cable/hardware stretching eventually throw off door balance over time. Temperature changes also affect spring tension.

When should you call a pro for garage door balancing?

If DIY efforts fail to balance the door, the job looks too complex, or you need parts replaced, call a professional. They have tools and training to do balancing safely and properly.

How to Balance a Garage Door


A garage door that moves smoothly and evenly when opening and closing makes access to your garage easier and safer. However, garage doors can become unbalanced over time due to normal wear on parts like cables, rollers, and springs. An unbalanced garage door may suddenly get difficult to operate, not open all the way, or slam closed unexpectedly. Thankfully, balancing a garage door is a do-it-yourself project most homeowners can tackle with the right preparation and tools. Learning how to properly balance your garage door ensures it runs safely and optimally. This article will explore how to balance the two common garage door types – torsion spring and extension spring systems. We’ll cover the tools and precautions needed, steps to adjust door balance, signs of an unbalanced door, and when to call the pros. With some mechanical aptitude and patience, you can restore smooth and controlled function to your garage door through regular balancing.

What You’ll Need To Balance a Garage Door

Balancing a garage door requires specialized tools to safely adjust spring tension, cable lengths, and other hardware. Having an assistant makes the job much easier. Here’s what you need on hand:

  • Winding bars – Long, solid metal tools fit into the winding cones of torsion springs to adjust tension.
  • Ratchet wrench and sockets – For loosening and tightening winding cones and hardware.
  • Cable drum adjustment tool – Allows fine tuning of cable length on torsion spring doors.
  • Extension spring winding bars – Specialty bars that fit into hooks on extension springs.
  • Vice grip pliers – For securing and locking the door in place during balancing.
  • Ladder – For safe access to work overhead on the garage door.
  • Safety glasses and gloves – For eye and hand protection while adjusting hardware.
  • Lubricants – For lubricating rollers, pulleys, and hinges after balancing.
  • Markers and rags – For marking existing spring settings and cleaning parts.
  • A sturdy clamp or vise grips – For temporarily clamping manual counterbalance cables.

Quality tools designed for garage door work ensure safety and proper balancing results. Check that ladders are steady and all tools are in good operating condition prior to beginning work.

How to Balance a Torsion Spring Garage Door

Torsion spring garage door systems are the most common modern type. In these doors, the springs are mounted horizontally above the door on a metal shaft running across the top of the opening. Cables connect from the bottom of the springs to the bottom corners of the door. Torsion spring doors can generally be balanced using the following steps:

Step 1) With the door closed, disconnect the garage door opener by pulling the emergency release handle. This allows you to manually operate the door. Engage the door lock to keep it from trying to re-connect to the automatic opener.

Step 2) Secure the door in the down position by placing vice grip pliers tightly on the track above the second roller. This prevents the door from suddenly rising up during spring adjustments.

Step 3) Examine the current number of turns on each torsion spring. The winding cones at the ends of