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How to Fix a Sliding Screen Door That Won’t Slide

How to Fix a Sliding Screen Door That Won’t Slide

Updated: 02.12.2024

By Nina Tsoy

Vinyl sliding doors save floor space, provide airflow, and cover larger openings for fantastic panoramic views.

Yet, sometimes a screen door won’t slide. We understand how frustrating this scenario can be! The most frequent cause is dirt and grime that’s caked on the track and wheels. Regular use and wear and tear can also impact the alignment and lead to a stuck door.

This blog will guide you through the steps to troubleshoot patio screen door repairs and get your door working again.

Different Sliding Screen Door Types

Different Sliding Screen Door Types

You may be unaware there are a couple of different sliding door types:

  • Bi-folding doors – Consists of several door panels that overlap and fold onto each other when opened. The panels have rollers at their meeting point, allowing them to slide and fold concertina-like when opened;
  • Sliding doors – Sliding doors provide a seamless transition between the indoors and outdoors. These are large and usually made of glass, making them sturdier than others. They can withstand harsh weather conditions while keeping the elements out of the interior space;
  • Pocket doors – Pocket doors slide into a pocket in the wall, almost rendering them invisible. Although they’re usually built into new homes, it’s possible to retrofit these doors with enough space;
  • Stacker doors – Instead of one large panel, stacker doors have several smaller boards that run on their tracks. When completely opened, the panels stack much thicker than an ordinary sliding door;
  • Barn doors – Barn doors often serve a similar purpose to cavity doors and are an excellent choice for maximizing space. They have exposed mechanisms rather than sliding along a track hidden within a door frame.

Common Sliding Screen Door Problems

While replacing sliding screen doors may be the best option in some cases, there are some common issues we can fix with simple repairs.

The Door Is Hard to Slide

If your screen door is hard to open, check for the following:

  • Dirty, rusted, or broken rollers: If the rollers on your door are dirty, rusted, or broken, they may not open or close appropriately. To fix the issue, simply clean the rollers with oil or grease to reduce stickiness and friction. If the roller breaks, you may need to replace it with a new one;
  • A bent track: How to fix a screen door track? Usually, a pair of pliers does the trick. It often happens when the door frame or roller runs into the route, blocking it from opening or closing accordingly. Straightening out the track should help the garage door run smoothly again.

Worn-Out Hardware and Damaged Seals

Worn-Out Hardware and Damaged Seals

The seals around the perimeter of sliding doors are essential for minimizing air leaks. Over time, they start to degrade and need to be replaced. This is key for maintaining energy efficiency and keeping out unwanted pests.

To replace weatherstripping, loosen its staples with a screwdriver, then carefully pull it away from the door. If needed, use a putty knife to pry it off. Take out any extra staples or leftover glue.
Put the new weatherstripping in place according to the instructions and ensure it’s correctly oriented. Use screws to attach the flange to the edge of the door. Secure the jamb-side strip with a plastic adhesive, then clean up any excess adhesive or smudges.

Glass Problems

If you have a sliding patio door with a broken glass panel, you won’t need to replace the entire door and frame. Instead, you can just replace the glass panel. If you’re confident in your home improvement skills, you can replace the glass in your sliding glass door yourself.

However, leaving this task to the experts is best if you’re not a DIY pro. Replacing the glass on a sliding door or window screen is similar to replacing any other window as long as the frame is still functional.

  • Remove the trim around the glass, then carefully remove whatever glass remnants are left;
  • You’ll need to order a new piece of glass — to get the measurements right, measure the height and width of the opening, then subtract ¼-inch from each measurement;
  • Install the new piece by placing it into the opening and caulking it into place;
  • Replace the trim you originally detached, then secure it with tacks;
  • Clean up any excess caulk and clean the glass.

Broken Latches

If lubricating the lock doesn’t work, you’ll need to replace the entire unit. Gently remove the lock from the window, avoiding dropping it inside the window frame, and take it to your local hardware store to find the right replacement. Install the new lock per the instructions, and ensure that all components are working properly by testing the bolt with a key and turning the lever.

Struggling with Your Sliding Screen Door?

Schedule your repair with Apex Window Werks today and slide with ease once again or call us (847)-469-9485!

Schedule an Estimate

or call us (847)-443-5145

Do I Need New Wheels or a Whole Sliding Screen Door Replacement?

The answer to this depends on different factors. You’ll need to inspect the door to determine whether it needs new wheels or replaced. First, check if the wheels are in good condition and properly aligned. Also, check that the door’s frame and hardware are in good condition and not worn down or damaged. If the wheels aren’t in poor condition or the frame or hardware is worn or damaged, the whole door may need to be replaced.

Tools and Materials Needed for Fixing Sliding Screen Door

Tools and Materials Needed for Fixing Sliding Screen Door

Make sure you gather all the necessary tools for this DIY sliding screen door replacement before beginning. This preparation will help avoid delays and unnecessary hassles.

  • Mallet
  • Long-nose pliers
  • Crosshead screwdriver
  • Standard pliers
  • Wooden block

How to Replace Sliding Screen Door Wheels

Using excessive force while repairing sliding screen doors can make the damage worse. Fortunately, you can repair a sliding patio door screen, regardless of whether the problem lies with the wheels, track, or both.

Step #1. Remove the Door from Its Track

Step #1. Remove the Door from Its Track

If you’re wondering how to take a screen door off its track, it’s a relatively straightforward process. First, on the frame of the screen door, locate two adjustment screws. Usually, these can be found near the bottom corners.

To begin the removal process, turn these screws counterclockwise. This will loosen the wheels and allow the door to be lowered. With the door in a lowered position, you can use your fingers or a flathead screwdriver to gently lift one wheel out of its track. This enables you to raise the entire door and remove the bottom edge from the bottom track.

Once the bottom is free, you can then pull the top of the door down from its track. For easier inspection and potential wheel replacement, place the door on a large table or support it between a pair of sawhorses.

Step #2. Clean Out the Track

A frequent problem with sliding doors is a dirty track, which can be full of dust, pet hair, and other debris. You’ll want to clean this area using the crevice tool of your vacuum cleaner. Delicately scrub any caked-on material with a stiff brush but be sure not to put any oil or grease on the track. Lubricants will attract more dirt and dust to accumulate on the pathway, making it harder to open the door in the future.

Step #3. Straighten Both Tracks

Step #3. Straighten Both Tracks

Check the upper and lower tracks for any indentations. You can adjust them with a pair of pliers if they’re curved. If the bends are too extreme, you can push the metal back into shape with a wooden block. Place the block against the curve and gently tap it with a hammer until the bend in the screen door track is straightened.

Step #4. Replace the Wheels

Here’s how to repair wheels on a patio screen door: Unscrew the adjustment screws and use either a finger or a flathead screwdriver to lift the wheels. There may be clips keeping the wheel and spring assembly in place, so gently disengage them and remove the wheels and spring assemblies.

Take one of the old wheels to the hardware store to buy the correct replacement wheels. It’s possible that you find at least three different kinds of screen door wheels to choose from. If the wheel you need isn’t available at the store, you can also search for replacement parts online and look for the door manufacturer’s name.

You should be able to buy directly from the manufacturer, even if your door is old. If you can’t, you may need to get a new door.

Then, attach the new wheels the same way the old ones were attached. Put the wheels in place and engage the clip that holds them, if possible.

Screw the adjustment screws back in. Put the screen door back in the track by sliding it into the top track, then drop it into the lower track. You’ll want to hold the door so that the frame is about a quarter inch from the edge of the door jamb.

Turn the adjustment screws clockwise until the door frame is aligned parallel with the edge of the door jamb. Adjust the screws until the frame is slightly higher than ⅛ of an inch above the tracks. This should enable your screen door to slide back and forth easily without catching on the threshold. If it still drags, slightly loosen the adjustment screw to adjust the wheels and raise the door.

Final Thoughts on Sliding Screen Door Repair

Final Thoughts on Sliding Screen Door Repair

If you notice any strange sounds when opening or closing your sliding screen door or you have difficulty sliding them, it’s important to resolve the issue. While it’s tempting to consider a DIY approach, there’s a more reliable solution at hand: Apex Window Werks. We proudly serve residents across Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, and we understand the nuances of patio screen doors.

Contemplating a full replacement? Leave it to our trained vinyl patio door repair technicians. After all, every structure deserves expert care and attention – that’s where we excel.

Nina Tsoy

Nina Tsoy

With over 15 years of experience in the window repair, replacement, and manufacturing business, Nina is in charge for strategic solutions and exceptional operational performance at Apex Window Werks. This allows her to offer innovative techniques and solutions to address any window-related problem, all while adhering to industry standards and best practices.

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