How to Handle Basic Sliding Glass Door Repairs

Sliding Glass Patio Door

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Overview
  • Working Time: 15 - 30 mins
  • Total Time: 30 mins - 1 hr
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $10 to $20

Your sliding glass door is your spacious window onto the world. It might even be the biggest window in your home, while also acting as an access door.

With all of that opening and closing, your sliding glass door gets a lot of wear and tear. Plus, your the door and its peripherals like the track and weatherstripping are exposed to the elements.

So, it’s no wonder that your door might become difficult to slide or close. In extreme cases, it might stop sliding altogether. The good news is that basic sliding glass doors repairs require only basic tools and few materials. You’ll only need an assistant to help you handle the door since it does need to be removed.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Hammer
  • Pliers
  • Putty knife
  • Cordless drill with driver bits
  • Flathead and Phillips screwdrivers
  • Scrap wood block
  • Silicone lubricant
  • Shop vacuum
  • Sponge or clean rag
  • Bucket with water

Materials

  • Replacement patio door wheels
  • Weatherstripping, if needed

Instructions

  1. Clean the Track With the Door in Place

    When the door does not move easily, often this can be fixed by cleaning the track with the door in place. Thoroughly vacuum out the track, clean it with a wet rag, then extract the remaining water with the vacuum. Do this both with the door opened and closed so that you can clean the entire length of the track. If this does not help with the door, you’ll need to remove it.

    Important

    Use only a shop vacuum on wet mode when extracting water. Never use your home vacuum. When using the shop vacuum, make sure that the filter and bag are not in place.

  2. Remove the Sliding Glass Door

    Before removing the sliding glass door for further maintenance, plan a suitable location in advance where you can rest it

    1. On the inside of the door, find the roller adjustment screw cover plugs. Remove them by hand or with the flat-head screwdriver.
    2. Raise the door roller wheels within the sliding door by turning the screws counterclockwise. This lowers the door.
    3. With the assistant holding the door steady, remove the header door stop at the top of the door frame by turning out its screws.
    4. Tip the door out of the frame and rest it on-end or flat on a soft surface.
  3. Remove the Roller Wheels

    By hand or with the screwdriver, gently pry out the roller wheels from the bottom of the sliding glass door. Dirt and debris may make removal more difficult, so be patient and work slowly.

  4. Clean or Replace the Roller Wheels

    If the roller wheels rotate freely, you should be able to keep them. In this case, clean and lubricate the inner, mechanical part of the wheels (not the treads of the wheels). If the wheels are bent or otherwise do not rotate well, discard them and replace with new wheels.

    Tip

    When buying new wheels, look for the right kind since there are others that look the same. They should be labeled as patio door or glass door wheels, not shower door or closet wheels.

  5. Clean and Lubricate the Track

    With the door removed, thoroughly clean the bottom track. Even a small pebble or sand is enough to hamper the movement of the door. Lightly lubricate the track with the silicone lubricant. Wipe off any excess lubricant with a clean rag.

  6. Fix or Replace the Weatherstripping

    The weatherstripping at the end of the door is important because it prevents water, debris, and insects from entering the house. In most cases, it’s easiest to remove damaged weatherstripping and replace it. The current weatherstripping may be glued onto the door. If so, use a razor or a putty knife to pull off the weatherstripping. 

    Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installing the new weatherstripping. In many cases, door weatherstripping has an attached self-adhesive strip. Clean the old adhesive from the sliding glass door with alcohol and a cloth rag. Remove the protective backing, then apply the new weatherstripping.

  7. Replace the Sliding Glass Door

    Make sure that the rollers are in their highest position within the door. Lift the sliding glass door and place it onto the track. As your partner holds the door steady, raise the door by turning the roller screws clockwise. Replace the header. Test the door for smooth movement.

  8. Regular Sliding Glass Door Maintenance

    Now that you’ve done your sliding glass door repair, keep it in top condition with ongoing maintenance:

    • Frequently use a shop vacuum to clear debris from the track.
    • Wipe down the track with a wet cloth.
    • Avoid pushing the door too hard from the front or the back as this can bend the wheels and damage them.
    • Protect the sliding glass door from the elements by adding a patio cover.