Fixing Sliding Doors: What to do When Doors Don't Slide Smoothly

sliding glass doors

My brother and his family have a wonderful house with huge sliding glass doors leading from both the living room and the dining room out onto a large patio where we regularly have family get togethers.

I don't have a picture of my brother's sliding doors to hand, so the image on the left is a photo of my neighbor's glass sliding doors - just to make sure we're on the same page :)

The problem was that over the last few months one of the sliding doors has been getting harder and harder to both open and close - there was so much friction that my 5 year old nephew wasn't strong enough to close the door behind him.

So before a barbecue lunch we were having last Saturday afternoon, we decided it was about time we fixed the door. Actually my sister-in-law said "No beer until it's fixed", so we jumped into action!

Step 1. Try to Adjust the Sliding Door

adjusting a glass sliding door

If you look closely at the bottom of your glass sliding doors, you will see a couple of screws just like the ones in this picture. Note that the screws might be covered by rubber plugs on some doors, and occasionally the screws will be positioned on the face instead of the edge of the door.

This is best done as a two person job, so while one of you gently lifts the door to take the weight off the rollers, the other one should turn the screws to adjust the height of the rollers. You only need a small amount of adjustment usually, so use a hand screwdriver and not a cordless drill/driver.

Then let the door rest back down and check to see if the side of the door is exactly parallel to the door jam - once it is then hopefully your door will be sliding smoothly! If it is still hard to slide, then move onto step 2 below.

This video gives a good overview of the process:

Step 2. How to Fix the Sliding Door

sliding door bottom roller

If the adjustments didn't work, then you most likely have a problem with your bottom rollers - and you need to replace these before the running track is damaged requiring it to need replacing as well. Unless the door is damaged due to an attempted break-in, there's usually no problem with the top of the door or frame.

Firstly you need to lift the door out of the frame - you will have to open the door first and the bottom should come out to the inside of the house. Then inspect the bottom track just to make sure everything's in order - if it's squashed or bent out of shape then you've let the problem go on too long and both the track and rollers will have to be replaced.

Then remove the rollers from the bottom of the door when you have it lying flat on the floor. They should look very similar to the one in this picture courtesy of Barrier Components - my neighbor wouldn't let me disassemble his door to take a picture:)

Simply take the rollers down to your local hardware store and the staff there will be able to help you find the exact ones you need. Alternatively, search online to find companies that sell them - the phrase you want to search for is "sliding door hardware".

If there is damage to both the rollers and the running track, then it might be time to get a complete new door instead, but this involves a lot of extra work so see if a simple repair job can be done first.

Finally, it's time to sit back and enjoy a beverage or two!

You might also like to read:
Common Kitchen Appliance Problems and Their Simple Fixes

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