Garage door spring, how to tension.


Why you would need to tension your garage door spring.

If your canopy garage door (click here for clarification) is slow and heavy opening up and is otherwise in good condition the odds are that your garage door spring has lost some tension and is struggling to lift the door.  Now before you proceed under this assumption it doesn’t hurt to call or email me for advice just to make sure that this is the way to go.

We must add some tension onto the overhead garage door spring to replace that which has been lost. When this is accomplished the spring will be more powerful and able to lift more efficiently. The end result should be a garage door that opens itself to more or less waist height and requires very little persuasion to open to its limit.

OK so here is how add tension to your garage door spring. Firstly it is one of those things that may regularly need doing approximately once every couple of years to maintain ease of use,  and that the cables remain nice and tight and in place.

I have added some images of the process for you to follow along. Again as mentioned a thousand times I’m here for any support so pick up the phone or email me here.

OK first things first we are going to need some tools for this job and they are detailed;

A, One suitable size Allen key (normally 3mm)

B, A pair of solid 5-6mm steel hole punches

C, A pair of mole grips

garage door retension tools

Tools required to retension the overhead spring on your garage door.


Right the next step is to make us aware of the area where we will be working in and becoming familiar with the things we will be messing around with. On the photo below we can see the far left side of the spring mechanism above the garage door and the main moving parts, including our garage door spring, which are as follows;

Spring Collar – This secures the spring onto the shaft by way of two 3mm grub screws

Cone – This holds and secures the cables when wound up or down/garage door open or closed

The Spring – The device which lifts the garage door through the use of a cable at either end

The Shaft – Supports the spring and lifting mechanisms.

garage door maintanence

Garage door cone connected to the shaft. The shaft also supports the spring which is secured via the spring collar.

The first thing we need to do now is to make sure the shaft cannot turn and upset the cables on the cones. This is very easily done by securing your mole grips onto the shaft with the flat of the handle against the timber/metal garage door frame.

This is very easily seen in the picture below. We will shortly be turning the end of the garage door spring around the shaft and on some occasions the collar will snag on the shaft and rotate the cones. If this happens the cables will not remain in their guides and when you reapply the tension to the spring they may not be in the correct groove on the cone. If this happens the door will not operate correctly, in other words we really don’t want this to happen!

How to adjust garage door spring tension

How to adjust garage door spring tension. The mole grip is tightly against the arm bracket and securely rested against the arm bracket.

(A)  The mole grips are tight against the frame (B) The mole grips are tight against the arm bracket

Our next step is to insert our hole punch into one of the tension holes in the spring collar. Once we have made sure it is all the way in we will brace our grip on this ready to take the full force of the garage door spring when the grub screws are slightly loosened with the Allen key. You can see how I do this in the picture below.

the start of the process to tension a garage door spring

The start of the sequence to tension your garage door spring.

(A) Our hole punch is fully inserted here and braced to take the spring tension  (B)  Our Allen key

Right we are nearly there now and ready to tension our garage door spring. We need to slowly release the grub screw in the spring collar and take the strain of the spring. When we have done this we can push the collar upwards and around the shaft until our fingers are almost resting on the frame above the door.

We then need to insert our other hole punch ,which we laid somewhere accessible (didn’t you?!), and repeat the turning process. As you insert the other hole punch we back off the strain a bit on the first hole punch and take the strain on the bottom hole punch.

We can safely remove the first hole punch, rotate the collar again up to its limit and repeat the process for two whole turns of the collar only. You will notice that the more you turn the garage door spring the more resistance you will meet.

garage door tension sequence next step

After raising the first hole punch upwards to its limit we can now see the next hole in which we can insert our second hole punch. We can then begin the rotation proceedure. Repeat this for two complete rotations of the garage door spring collar.

(A) Fully turned first hole punch (B) The next hole ready for the second hole punch

When we have successfully rotated the garage door spring via the collar two complete times we then must tighten both grub screws and re secure it to the shaft. We must hold on the the hole punch until this process has been completed. You can easily hold the punch at such a degree as to be able to tighten both screws at the same time. If you remove the hole punch from the collar before this point your garage door spring will loose all off its tension, make a very loud noise and fully unwind very quickly and you will have to fully tension it from scratch!

Now before we think about testing the door for improvement we must check the following. We must ensure that both cables at either end are still safely in their most outer edge groove in their respective cone. We must also check that the ends of the cables where they are secured to the garage door rollers are safely and properly placed. We can also at this point remove our mole grips from the shaft.

The cables are correctly placed within the brackets holding the rollers.

The cable ends are securely placed within the correct trench on the roller. Alternative designs are different but follow the same principles.

(A) The cable here is safely in its enclosure (B) The cable retaining bracket is correctly placed on the roller.

Our garage door spring tension has been adjusted and we are nearly ready to check the door!

OK so we have now turned the garage door spring around two complete turns and safely re secured it to the shaft. We have ensured that the cables are in their proper place and that the grub screws are tightly secured also. We have removed our mole grips and at this point I would recommend giving the entire mechanism a light coating of spray 3 in 1 oil. This includes the garage door spring, shaft, cables, cones, rollers and the guide in which the rollers run.

We are now in a position to test the door for improvement. We should remove ourselves to the outside of the door and from a closed position turn the handle and give the door a very gentle push, step back and let go of the handle. The door should raise itself under the power of the spring to approximately waist height. It should then be very easy to then guide the door up to its limits and hey presto you have finished.

If however you find that this is not the case then you will have to repeat the procedure and turn the garage door spring two more times following the exact same procedure until you have achieved the desired result.

Always remember to give yourself a good pat on the back as you have just successfully added tension and a few years to your garage door spring!

And lastly if you require any assistance adding tension to your garage door spring, or if anything doesn’t quite go to plan as it should then please contact me.

Thank you for reading this article.







  21 Responses to “Garage door spring, how to tension.”

  1. The chain on my automatic door has broken plus the long spring above the door has ‘sagged’ and when I open the door (manually) it is leaving a black oily/greasy mark across the outside of the door. Is it repairable inexpensively?

  2. Sorry I forgot to give you the make of the motor it is an Invincible .

  3. I started working on this door, which is 12 feet wide and has 2 springs. The first time around I tensioned the wrong way and got stuck inside the garage. I finally after seeing you page figured out my cables, one on each side of the door, were coming off the spool. The door goes up and stays up now thanks to your help.

    thx, manny

  4. Just to say thanks…………………. I re-tensioned my HENDERSON up and over this morning using your instructions / directions and found them to be superb. The illustrated Photos made the job so easy. I can just say that they are First Class and I want to say “thanks” for your most helpful instruction. The door is now working as it should with a slight up-ward assistance from the spring when being opened.
    Michael McCullagh.

  5. Thank you the advice worked well for me and yes you need a strong grip with the correct tension bars to complete the job

  6. Hi
    First a thankyou for evry clear instructions. I am not sure of my garage door make but it looks identical to the one in your photo’s. I managed to tighten the spring about 1/2 a turn only and then was unable to turn any further.
    Is this a sign that my spring needs replacing?

    Thanks in advance.
    Bob Smith 13/11/12

  7. Hi Stuart, I have a Henderson Door and I replaced the cones and cables and the rollers. I put tension in the spring but the door will not stay up and doesn’t really raise to waste height of its own accord. I have tightened the tension on the spring until it wont turn anymore but the door still wont stay up. I have lubricated all parts with WD40 but no change. Any comments or solutions would be greatly appreciated Regards Gavin

    • Hi Gavin
      The thing to remember is that the spring must, and will, rotate enough to provide enough tension to lift the door. I imagine the spring collar has become locked on the shaft by metal chaff caused by the locking grub screws. It happens a lot and will prevent the collar moving to your left. If you are local let me know and I will drop by and see if this is the case. If not just call me when you are free and I will talk you through a quick fix solution, or three!

      • Stuart, Further to our conversation it was indeed blurs of metal on the main shaft which would not allow the spring cover to move along the shaft when trying to tension. All sorted now and working a treat. Thank you for your advice much appreciated. Regards Gavin

  8. Hi Stuart

    Have just replaced both cones on my Henderson style door i.e. it has asingle spring over the top of the door.

    I have tensioned the spring again but can only get the LH cone (the side nearest the adjustment) with the RH side getting no tention at all.

    I believe the RH cone to be in its correct position, so is the spring its self at fault?

    Your guidance would be greatly appreciated.



    • Hi Roy,
      Are you local? I would be more than happy to have a quick look over it for you.
      Many thanks, Stuart Green.

      • Hi Stuart

        We are about 3 miles from junction 10 of the M6



        • Hi Roy
          You are not local then lol.
          What is most likely is that the two cones were not aligned properly when you hammered in the split pins. Sometimes, I have done it myself, the cable exit points from the cones are not in the same place. This is the number one cause of that issue.
          Alternatively it may be that the loop end of the cable is fixed around the body of the spindle rather than the correct groove, this can also cause the issue.
          It is very unlikely to be the spring that is causing the problem.
          If it isn’t either of these two options email me back and I will ask some further questions to see if we can assertion what’s going on.
          Here to help! Stuart.

          • Hi Stuart

            Thanks for these tips.

            I will try what you are suggesting which hopefully will address the problem

            Will let you know the outcome.



  9. Hi Stuart

    On checking I had the RH cone out by 180 degrees to the LH.

    Sorted that out then re-tensioned the spring and the door seems fine.

    Thanks for all your help and guidance



  10. Hi Stuart,

    I’ve come across your website whilst looking for information on my Henderson up and over door. Both cables were damaged so I’ve removed the cones ready to replace with new cones/cables.
    When I removed the old cones, the shaft moved to the right hand side, and stopped when it came into contact with the brick of the right hand wall.
    I don’t think there’s any tension in the spring as both cables have been removed, but I’m not sure why the shaft would move. Do the cones hold the shaft in the correct position?

    Any help on figuring out how to get the shaft back into a central position would be appreciated.


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