How to tune up a sliding door

3 easy steps to get your door running smoothly again

By Michel RoyMichel Roy

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Step 1: Mind the gutter

Photo by Jacques Perrault

A sliding patio door is ideal for bringing the light and air of the outdoors into a cottage, but if your door has become more of a sticker than a slider, you’ll probably choose another route to deliver refreshments to the deck or dock. Luckily, maintaining a slider is simple, and even more extensive repairs are quick and easy.

Slider problems are often caused by dirt and grit gumming up the works. Typically, sliding exterior doors travel on wheels that roll along a bottom track. Regularly vacuum or brush out dirt trapped in the lower track, and give the track a good cleaning. Soapy water works or, to up the ante, try rubbing alcohol. Don’t use mineral spirits, which can damage plastic components. Since oil catches dust, lubricate the tracks with floor wax.

If a good scrubbing doesn’t help, and the door seems to be rubbing at the bottom, adjust the door’s height so it will better clear the track when running on the wheels. To begin, find the adjustment screws (1) at the bottom of the door—typically on the inside face. Look for a trim cap covering each screw; you’ll need to pry those out first. Turning the screws clockwise should raise the door; turning counter-clockwise should lower it. Try lifting the door with a quarter turn of each screw, and check the action. As you adjust the height, make sure the door will still close flush against the strike jamb.

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Michel Roy