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How to Maintain and Fix Sliding Doors

The two types of doors that are easiest to open don't have hinges at all; instead, they slide on tracks. Sliding-glass doors are a popular feature in rooms with decks or patios because their full-length glass panels open the room visually to the great outdoors while providing easy access to the outside. Interior sliding doors are frequently used for closets and pantries, and sometimes to conceal water heaters and furnaces. You can remove sliding-door panels easily to gain complete access to what's behind them. Follow simple repairs and maintenance procedures to keep your sliding doors on track.

Getting your patio door to slide better

Patio doors slide horizontally — or at least they're supposed to. All too often, these big, pesky contraptions stubbornly resist opening, and getting outside becomes about as easy as dragging a refrigerator through a sandbox.

The most common cause of a sticking patio door is debris in the lower track. This channel easily becomes clogged with dirt and leaves because people and pets walk over it whenever they go in or out. Each time you vacuum your floors, use a small brush attachment or cordless vacuum to clean the sliding-door tracks. Apply a lubricant to both upper and lower tracks to keep the door hardware clean and operating freely.

In addition to cleaning and lubricating sliding-door tracks, you want to lubricate the door lock. The best way to lubricate any lock is to disassemble it and use an aerosol lubricant to flush away grime and coat the moving parts of the lock.

Sometimes, patio doors become hard to open even when the track is clean. In these cases, the problem is usually that the rollers at the bottom of the door have started to rub against the track. The rollers at the top can also wear down, lowering the bottom of the door so that it rubs on the track.

Most sliding doors have a mechanism called an adjusting screw located at the bottom of the door ends. Turning this screw raises or lowers the roller. Give the screw a clockwise turn and test to see whether the door slides easier. If the door becomes even harder to open, turn the screw in the opposite direction. After a bit of adjustment, the door should roll easily without rubbing on the bottom track.

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Maintaining sliding closet doors

Sliding closet doors operate on rollers that are positioned in tracks at the top jamb and floor, allowing the doors to bypass each other in the tracks. Because sliding doors don't fold out the way bifold doors do, they allow access to only half the width of the opening at a time.

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To clean and lubricate the hardware of a sliding closet door, use a stiff brush, a toothbrush, or a hand vacuum to clean dust from the tracks. Use an aerosol lubricant to lubricate all the door rollers. If the rollers are damaged, install replacement rollers (available at home centers).

If the door doesn't hang level, leaving an uneven gap between the door and door frame, look for an adjustable mounting screw at the inside top of each door. Use a screwdriver to adjust the mounting screw and even out the door.

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