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Broken Cables on My Garage Door

Updated on January 1, 2012
Standard up&over garage door replacement cones and cables
Standard up&over garage door replacement cones and cables

How do I Change Broken Cables

One of the major problems resulting in persuasive salesmen getting everyday people to hand out their hard earned wages or savings is something as simple as a broken garage door. Thankfully garage doors are not as complicated or expensive to repair as the often heartless salesman will make out.

Probably the most common breakdown of components with standard up and over garage doors is that the suspension cable on either side of the door will snap causing the garage door to either drop down to one side (often jamming between the surrounding frame) or making the door its self become near impossible to open.Sometimes however it can be that both cables have broken, usually the second breaking due to the added tension transferred from the first cable failing.

If it is a cable or two that is causing the problem with your own garage door then please hold off getting on the phone to your local Garage Door Engineer. Let me firstly talk you through the simple system of repair so that even if you are unable to carry the work out yourself, you will have a good idea what needs to be done and know if the salesman/engineer is spinning you a load of spiel.

Firstly it is highly recommended to always change both cables and cones (the tapered plastic element at either end of the spring carrier bar) at the same time. This is common practice and is done to alleviate a repeat (breaking) performance through uneven wear.

Cable and cone packs, although very similar are specific to each garage door manufacturer. I generally purchase all of my garage door spares from UK based Garage Door Spares who are distributors for all major brands.

Once acquired it becomes a case of shutting yourself (plus a second pair of hand if available) and your toolbox into and behind the closed garage door. It is important not to have forgotten any tools unless you have a separate doorway or means of access into your garage, but also not something you will possibly want to do if you have a dislike of confined spaces.

As for the tools you will need ---

  • 1 x pair of self gripping wrenches (Mole Grips)
  • 2 x 5mm steel bars about 8 to 10 inches long (or a pair of sturdy Philips type screwdrivers will suffice).
  • 1 x 4mm punch (alternatively a 4mm hss drill bit can be used)
  • 1 x medium weight hammer
  • 1 x 4mm Allen key (hexagonal key)
  • 1 x replacement cable and cone kit (specific to the manufacture of your door)

I will continue to explain the replacement process as if I am doing the task in hand myself, don't worry if you feel that this is beyond your capabilities as like I said earlier, you can use this as a guide if you are employing somebody to do the job for you. The whole process should take no longer than 1hour maximum so please don't get ripped off.

Firstly we will have to secure any tension still remaining in the horizontal spring. This will not be required if both cables have snapped as this would have allowed the spring to fully unwind (I will cover re-tensioning later in this post, there is no need to follow the instructions to secure the tension so please skip to changing the actual cones). Using a step-up to reach a comfortable height (ideally I have found shoulders parallel to spring works best for myself). Generally speaking the left hand end of the spring will be about 12 to 18 inches from the left hand cone. There will be a collar on the end of the spring which should have 4 holes around its circumference. 2 of these holes will house hexagonal drive screws/studs and the other 2 will be for inserting the steel bars to rotate the end of the spring.

Take one of the steel bars and insert it as deep as it will go into the hole (in the collar) facing furthest forward, Push this to rotate the collar upwards away from you about 1/4 to 1/2 a turn and then using the self gripping wrench, grip the horizontal bar halfway between the left hand side of the garage door and the spring. Gently release the pressure on the steel bar until the self gripping wrench pushes solidly and under pressure against the garage door sash, this should secure the tension in the spring and allow for us to continue.

At both ends of the horizontal steel bar you will find a nylon type cone, these are usually colour coded white for left hand and red or black for right hand. These are held in place by a steel peg that need to be driven out using the 4mm punch and a hammer. Once these steel pegs are driven free you shall now be able to grip the cone and giving it a gentle twist pull it free of the steel bar.

Replacement of the new cones are a direct reversal of the removal process but care must be taken to ensure that the cables exiting the cones are both pointing in the same direction. Make sure to insert and hammer home the new pegs usually leaving 2 to 3mm protruding either side of the cone.

The next step is to attach the free end of the cables to the roller shaft/spindle at mid point either side of the garage door. Different manufacturers use various fixing types but usually consist of a loop and hook system and are ordinarily very simple to engage whilst there is no tension on the cables. Once these are attached it is time to make sure the cables are running in the channel (the same channel as the spindle roller travels up and down in) without snagging or obstruction.

Lastly we can now re-insert our steel bar into the hole in the collar (at the end of the spring). Turn this to relieve the pressure on the self gripping wrench and then remove the wrench from the bar. Gently release pressure on the bar to allow the spring to take up the slack in the new cables. It is imperative at this stage to ensure that the cables are located correctly into the slight grooves on the cones and are still clear of restriction.

If the original tension was never lost from the spring system, you should now be able to open your garage door, step outside and give a big sigh of relief, You have finished and saved yourself a possible small fortune.

If however the original tension was lost due to both cables breaking you will need to re-apply tension to the spring. Due to the lack of tension in the spring we will not have needed to secure the steel bar with the self gripping wrench.

Take Great Care Performing This Next Task

For this task you will need to release the 2 hex drive stud in the spring collar using the 4mm hex key so that the collar turns freely. Take the 2 steel bars and place one in the hole in the collar facing you most. Push this upward until just past vertical and the second hole will become visible at the bottom. Insert the second bar into this hole and repeat pushing this to the vertical and inserting the first bar back into the bottom hole.

You will need to keep count during this process as it will require approximately 28 full turns of the cone to reach the required tension. Great care must be taken as the spring will be fighting against you. When you have reach about 28 turns it is time to tighten the hex drive studs. This will need doing in two stages as only one will be visible at a time. Tighten the first one that you can see and the turn the collar a little more so that you can see and tighten the second.

This last stage is a trial and error process to determine that the garage door operates freely and correctly at the right tension. A rule of thumb for the correct tension is that the door should not fly open nor be hard to close, but should hold its own when opened to any position between fully open or closed, and hold its own.

I hope this advice has been of help to somebody and please feel free to ask questions or for further advice. I aim to please.

Keith


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    • Arry Stark profile image

      Arry Stark 4 years ago

      I'm not mechanically-inclined at all, but I was looking for garage door repairs and replacements in Minneapolis and looking for information on http://www.oleandlenas.com/garage-doors.html . Thanks!

    • profile image

      intermountain 4 years ago

      rewwtt

    • profile image

      Steve 18 months ago

      Keith,

      You Sir, are a star. I bought a cone/cable kit from ebay and have just fitted it very easily following your instructions to re-tension the spring.

      Cheers. :-)

    • profile image

      Simon Oliver 18 months ago

      Very useful page , I ordered my parts from GDS , and had fitted new side rollers , cones and cables very quickly.

      The result being , for the first time in years I have a door that opens easily and is level !

      Thank you .

    • profile image

      ROBERT 14 months ago

      one of the most use-full items Iv`e found on the internet, thank you

    • profile image

      Mark Hopson 7 months ago

      Just as the article says ALWAYS replace both the cables at the same time. otherwise you run the risk of having one of them snap due to different weights and tension levels. Keep in mind you can always hire a professional like myself for any garage door repair issues you may have. For this kind of a job, I would personally charge around $200 so that would be a pretty fair price. Hope that helps! Mark from http://thegaragerepairexperts.com

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