Patio doors are a great feature of your home that allows additional light inside, easy access to the outdoors, and create a more spacious feel to your abode by blending the inner and outer spaces of your home and yard. That can all go to waste when you have problems with your sliding door sticking.
Sometimes a patio door can start to misbehave. If you’ve tried cajoling your patio door with rewards of candy or a new toy, or perhaps threatening it with a timeout and found these methods ineffective, that’s probably because your patio door is a door. You need to fix it…and here’s how.
Your sliding door opens and closes by moving along a track, and in order to operate smoothly and with ease, there is a certain amount of built-in slack. This minute deviation from total rigidity allows you to open and close the door with that wonderfully convenient sliding motion that makes a whoosh sound instead of the screech of metal on metal…but occasionally, this slack can build up into a misaligned door.
Try moving the door to open (or close) it. If it feels like it’s swerving slightly to the left or right, your door is probably misaligned and needs to be fixed. Good thing the fixin’ is easy! The elasticity of the track should allow you to lift the door and center it again. Keep trying until the door opens and closes smoothly.
If you want your door to stay on the straight and narrow path for the rest of its life, don’t slam it. Slamming the door can easily cause it to go off track, which will, of course, make the door start sticking again. If you feel you might forget that information, perhaps put a little clear sticker on the window with letters that say “open and close me gently.”
By dirty tracks, we don’t mean the uncensored version of your favorite old-school hip-hop artists, but rather, actual dirt on the track of your sliding door.
Unless you hate the great outdoors, or your yard is totally invaded by seven-foot weeds (hey, it happens) you probably do utilize your sliding a door a decent amount. With all that foot traffic coming in and out of your home, bringing dust, dirt, dried leaves, and sediment from rain or snow over the tracks, a fair amount of natural debris has probably gotten sprinkled over them.
The dirt buildup in the tracks can cause the door to stick when you try to operate it, and in fact, dirty tracks are one of America’s most wanted culprits when it comes to doors sticking.
Thank you lucky stars, because this problem is actually easy to deal with. Just clean off the tracks, perhaps by vacuuming out large debris, spraying some water in there, and following it all up with a wipe-down if necessary.
To keep this problem from coming back, try putting mats in front of the door and encourage all members of the household to wipe their feet or paws or hooves before coming back in (for those who keep pet goats in the living room or are married to satyrs). Clean the screen door (if your patio door has one) regularly, since it’s essentially a huge screen for catching dust and depositing it on the tracks.
You can minimize its dustiness by vacuuming out loose dirt or spraying it with a hose. If you pick that last option, make sure the screen door is closed, otherwise, you’ll be cleaning your carpets as well. You may also want to follow that up by cleaning the windows since the water can leave behind streaks. Finish up the screen cleaning with a cleaning solution and a good wipe down, but don’t be too forceful, otherwise, the screen will get bent out of shape.
The sliding doors themselves move along the track on a set of rollers…sort of like how back in the day, the dudes in ancient Egypt moved huge bricks through the desert by moving them along a path of logs that could roll the blocks along. Well, opening your door may not be a journey to the afterlife that involves building a large pyramid, but rollers are involved in its smooth operation, and if they aren’t functioning, the door will stick.
It’s not uncommon for rollers to become damaged or dirty over the years. Usually, the issue is with dirt, so you can fix this by removing the door, cleaning the rollers with some cleaning fluid and water, and then spraying them with a lubricant such as WD-40.
Or, the roller might need a slight readjustment, which is a likely possibility if the door became misaligned or got off track. If your door is still sticking, the rollers may be broken beyond repair, so you’ll have to replace them. Depending on how handy you are, that may be a project you’ll want to outsource to an expert.
If the door makes a grinding noise while also getting stuck, or seems to be dragging along the track as it goes, the springs in the rollers may have gotten loose and started sagging. Happens to all of us after a while, doesn’t it? Just fix this problem by adjusting the height of the rollers by their screws.
If none of these ideas worked out for you, you might just have to adopt the maxim of “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” and give up on it. The door could just be old and have undergone too many years of wear and tear, making it something you need to replace.
If the components around the glass are made from wood, you may have enjoyed the au natural look of it, but it’s probably become warped over time, and there is no going back in time to fix that one. Aluminum doors, on the other hand, can also become banged and danged (if that’s a word) beyond repair.
A new vinyl door can really improve the thermal qualities of your home, in addition to operating much more smoothly. A professional, reputable company will install it and stand by their warranty. Vinyl doors won’t rot, warp, or swell, and are very weather resistant, sort of like a stoic fisherman letting waves break across his yellow raincoat.
It’s best not to put off dealing with sliding door, because it’s a problem that can snowball over time. Imagine trying to resell your home, and having the door stick as the real estate agent is trying to show a potential couple outside (“okay then, let’s just walk around the side of the house to see the backyard”). Even more serious is the concern that a damaged door can impede quick egress from dangerous situations, like a fire.
That said, if your sliding door is sticking on the track, we suggest you try the aforementioned solutions to address this problem (checking the alignment, cleaning the tracks, and checking the rollers). If none of those options pan out, it may be time to look into a new door, which will once again facilitate the enjoyment of your yard, and add some resale value to your home and its appearance.
Had bad installation on your previous sliding patio doors? At Feldco, we have certified installers who will do the job right the first time. If its time to give up on your patio door and get a new one, get a free quote with Feldco and remove the stress and hassle of broken sliding doors.