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How to Replace Garage Door Cables

How to Replace Garage Door Cables

Oleg Chudnovski

Technically Reviewed by Oleg Chudnovski on Nov 21, 2023 | Written by Olga Larina

Repairing garage door springs and cables is advanced work; sometimes, you need a professional to handle the job. We have outlined several steps for replacing garage door cables. Every garage door system has many components. Garage door springs and cables are essential to the door’s safety and operation. Moreover, they depend on each other; your door will not open without them. As springs counterbalance the door and apply the right tension, the cables and drums can lift the door. In most cases, when a spring breaks, your cables aren’t far behind. Let our experts briefly explain how cables work, their connection to springs, and what to do when you notice a problem that they have snapped or broken.

How Do Garage Door Cables Work?

Garage door cables are those parts that most customers underappreciate. And without them, it will be impossible to open and close the door. There are three types of garage door cables which allow the door to operate correctly and safely:

  • The lifting cable (as a rule, the first to break) undergoes a great deal of stress to help power the axle and open and close the doors.
    Frankly, the lifting mechanism doesn’t connect much with door openers but with springs. However, they are not connected directly to the door. Instead, they are connected to pulleys or drums, which run cables that transfer the springs’ energy to lift the door.
  • The safety cables (or retaining) are used in extension spring systems to keep the spring from falling. They act as a failsafe device when the primary cable breaks.
    The safety cable extends from the door frame through the extension spring to the other end, attached to the hook screw that holds the spring. Thus, keeping the safety cables in good condition is important to avoid awful consequences such as grave bodily harm or the possibility of potentially killing someone by pieces.
  • Emergency release cables allow owners to open the garage doors manually and bypass the spring system.

The cables are attached to the bottom of the garage door, and a cable drum is at either end of the torsion spring shaft. When the torsion spring turns the drums, the cables wrap or unwrap around the drum, and the door opens or closes. The spring winds up when the doors are lowered and unwinds when lowered, helping move the door’s weight.

What’s the Connection with the Springs and Cables?

Pulleys, door openers, springs, and cables are used to operate any type of garage door. Each part has a specific purpose. The tracks keep the door aligned, the springs help lift the door’s weight, and the garage door opener lifts the whole thing with a button push. The garage door cables and cable drums act as a failsafe if something happens to the springs. The cables transfer the power of the springs to move the weight of the door, and at the same time, the pulleys reduce the effort needed to lift the doors and control the direction of the force.

Useful Tips and Steps in How to Replace Broken Cables

Cables are very important, obviously, as the cables suspend your garage door. So, they must be in good condition: no rust, no fray, no corrosion, no damage. Our technicians prepared a list of steps on how to replace broken cables upon their experience:

Step 1. Put the door in the up position. It is open and locks the garage door in place. This can be done by attaching vice grips to the track below the bottom roller or placing a ladder under the door to keep it from moving.

Step 2. Remove the bolts that attach the cables to the trolley assembly at the top of the track using an adjustable wrench. Don’t cut your cables! Remove both cables from the trolley assembly. Ensure you remove the gate track even if you can’t see it – there’s usually one on each side for storing your extension cord or hoses, etc.

Step 3. To remove the old cables from your door springs, you should release the tension and allow you to pull them out. Unwind each spring about 12-18 inches in one direction and hold it in place with tape. The tension should push against the tape enough for it to stay put. It’s also possible to use heavy objects like screwdrivers or pieces of wood instead of tape. If any small pieces are holding together the end links of your cable, pry them apart carefully with a flathead screwdriver. With one hand on each side of the spring, slowly rotate it in opposite directions until you feel comfortable that it has enough room to unwind further. You may also need someone else to help you with this part of the process since it’s difficult to do yourself. Continue rotating each spring until they’re nearly fully extended but not completely flattened out. This is necessary to safely remove the cables from your garage door springs without them snapping back into place and hurting anyone nearby.

Step 4. The new cables you purchase for your garage door will most likely be the same length as the ones you remove. Once the cable is long enough for your garage door, feed one end through a hole in one side of an end link like before and slide a washer over that end before securing it tightly with pliers or another tool. Repeat the same process with the other side of the cable. Once the drums are free of their tracks, use needle-nose pliers to remove springs by twisting slowly in a counterclockwise direction.

Helpful Tips:

  1. Grease all moving parts of your garage door regularly.
  2. Replace worn or broken parts immediately.

If you are unsure how to do this safely, you MUST contact a Fix Garage Doors CA professional to avoid further issues that could cost more than going unrepaired.

Required tools

This job is dangerous enough and requires certain knowledge, skills, and, of course, tools. Let’s look at what can be necessary:

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Screwdriver set
  • Grease gun
  • Hammer
  • Safety Goggles and Gloves
  • Needle Nose Pliers
  • Wire Cutter/Stripper
  • 3 Foot Level or Measuring Tape

If you cannot do these for safety reasons, please consult someone who can help without hesitation. Garage door repair can be done by many, but it’s always best to seek someone with experience working on garage doors to ensure you get what you need done the first time.

How to Prevent Cable Damage

Wear and tear is the most common cause of cable failure. However, water or moisture near the bottom or sides of the door, corrosion, damaged pulley bearings, or improper track alignment can strain or degrade the cables.

Several points can cause garage door cable damage:

  • Incorrectly wound
  • Becoming completely unwound
  • Old cables can break because of metal fatigue
  • Rust can eat through the cable
  • Frayed cables can get snagged

If you notice that your garage door cable is fraying or making noisy sounds or think its condition is not as it should be and is about to break, never use your door. The matter is that door cables are under great tension and can lead to serious injuries if they snap. Thus, if your garage door cable is broken, do not try to operate your garage door.

Contact us to replace your broken garage door cable at 905-247-6699 from Monday to Sunday in any part of Toronto and the GTA area. You are sure to receive excellent services on the same day.

Contact Experts at Fix Garage Doors CA

As with any part of garage door systems, regular diagnostics and inspection are important. This will help you avoid bigger door issues and save money on repairs. Garage doors require special knowledge and skills, and DIY projects won’t greatly help.

Call a qualified garage door installation technician if you feel uncomfortable working with the garage door spring, cables or any other part of the door system. Trust our techs, and leave this job to qualified garage door repair professionals.

Date of page creation: February 13, 2023

Page update date: November 21, 2023

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you open the garage door if the cable is broken?

Upon our experience, we strongly advise you not to attempt to use a garage door that has a broken or loose cable. Doing so places a huge amount of tension on the remaining cables and may cause them to snap and send the door crashing down on top of whatever or whoever is underneath it.

How much does it cost to replace garage door cables?

As a rule, you expect to pay $95.00  for a new cable, including labour. If a cable has broken, the garage door may run off the track, and the counterbalance may not be in the correct position. It will depend on the complexity of the cable problem and the garage door type you have.