How do you open a sectional garage door if the spring is broken?

How do you open a sectional garage door if the spring is broken?

One thing you should do before trying to manually open the garage door is to determine the cause of the problem. In some cases, such as a jammed door or a lifting cable that has parted, it is obvious what the problem is or could be. However, in other cases it takes more investigation on your part to pinpoint the issue.

For the purpose of this article we will be looking specifically in the event that you have a broken garage door spring. We will be discussing how to open a sectional garage door with a broken spring or springs. A tip up door and roll up door can typically be opened quite easily in the event of a broken spring, we will be discussing these types of garage door in a follow up technical article.


Safety warning: Before we continue please note that attempting to open the door by yourself could be risky and we would strongly advise contacting a professional company to facilitate door repairs.


Is it safe to open a garage door with a broken spring?

A sectional door is equipped with one of two kinds of springs:

  • Extension springs are on either side of the door, along the top horisontal rails.
  • Torsion springs are across the top of the door itself mounted on the torsion bar (steel pipe) with a cable drum on each side.

Garage doors are generally made from wood or metal, they can weigh anything from 150kg up to 350kg, and in some cases even more. If one or more of those springs is broken, you will be lifting that weight all on your own. If you are going to attempt to lift the door we would strongly advise to have second person assisting.

Bearing in mind the inherent risks, it is safe to open you garage door with a broken spring, just take great care as you proceed. And if at any time you feel uncomfortable about it, rather call a garage door repair company.

How do I know if my garage door spring is broken?

First things first, try to determine why your door won’t open. There are several common reasons why your garage door will not open or close, some of which will not require you to call a garage door company.

There are two main ways you know you have a spring problem:

  1. Your garage door motor is working but the door isn’t moving.
  2. You may hear the garage door motor straining to open the door.
  3. The garage door motor tries to lift the door but then reverts back to the close position (similar to when the garage door hits and obstruction)
  4. You inspect the spring and find it broken, in the case of sectional garage doors the spring will typically be in two parts.

If you inspected the points above and found no problems, then something else has failed on the garage door system and it will probably be a good idea to call a garage door company to come and do an assessment.

Can I use my garage door motor if the spring is broken?

If you find your garage door spring is broken, please do not use the garage door motor to open your garage door, even if you have the best and toughest garage door motor available.

Do not use your motor at all!!

Using your garage door motor with a broken spring can result in several additional issues, including but not limited to severely damaged components and property damage.

If you are wondering what type of damage it could possibly cause, look at the list below:

  • Cracking, distorting or breaking the door panels
  • Damaged or stripped gears in your motor
  • Burning out your garage door motor
  • Bending or disforming of the tracks
  • Parts of the motor could part or break off
  • In some cases, the garage door motor may even pull itself off of the mountings


Safety warning: For the above reasons and possibly injury to one self, we would strongly advise to get a reputable garage door company out to facilitate repairs.


How to open the garage door without using the garage door motor

If you must open your garage door manually because of a broken spring, we recommend the following steps:

  1. Get help from a second person, even if you think you can do it yourself. Again, the door will be very heavy and you will be required to lift the entire weight of the garage door alone.
  2. Be careful and approach this with the safety consideration it deserves.
  3. Use correct lifting techniques, use your legs to lift not your back.
  4. Mind where you place your hands, be careful not to pinch your fingers in between the panels.
  5. Observe you foot placement, in the event that the door drops you do not want your feet under it.
  6. Disengage the door from the garage door motor. To do this, look for a handle on a rope hanging from the track. In most cases you need to pull on it to disengage the pin.
  7. Open the door to its horisontal storing position, and then latch it into place. This is for safety as the door might roll down to a closed position again. If you are unable to latch it again, you can also put stoppers in by the wheels on each side to keep it in place.

Keep the following safety considerations in mind before and during the process:

  • The door may be too heavy to lift especially if it is a wooden garage door.
  • Watch out for bending the panels by pushing or puling on them too hard.
  • Mind your fingers between the panels, getting it pinched will crush your tips or at the very least leave you with a badly damaged nail bed. Trust me, it is very painful and not fun at all.
  • Keep the door level as you lift it to avoid bending the rails or wedging the door.

To close the garage door, follow the above steps in revers. Be aware though that this may be more difficult and the same risks apply as you will have to hold the door all the way down. The lowering of the door should be controlled at all times and do not let the crash down as you will be replacing more than just the spring.