Keep Patio Doors on a Roll

From Associated Press

From its massive size and weight, you might guess that keeping your patio door sliding smoothly would be tough.

Surprisingly enough, it can roll on for years without needing attention. And when it does start sticking, you need only two tools to get to the root of the problem: a flat-blade or Phillips screwdriver and a pair of pliers.

Occasionally in older doors, you'll encounter really big problems, such as a rotting wood frame or sagging overhead beam. Such repairs are not do-it-yourself. They often call for major surgery or a completely new door unit.

To find a replacement for a damaged roller or other easily fixed part, try calling the door manufacturer for a local dealer (check the door hardware for a label). If that fails, contact local window repair and glass companies. They stock weatherstripping and probably rollers too. Even better, they can order or tell you where to find parts they don't stock.

Here are some tips on keeping your patio door rolling smoothly:

* Keep track of screws when you disassemble parts for repair. Thread the screws into the edge of a piece of corrugated cardboard, then tape the cardboard to the disassembled items.

* Any time you need to inject oil in a tight space around the rollers of your patio door, use a disposable irrigation syringe available at pharmacies. The tip is curved and the taper lets you snip it at different points to adjust the size of the opening.

* Wash the track and channel annually with a household cleaner. You can vacuum up dust and other debris, but you'll have to scrub to remove the grease and grime that stick to the track and clog the rollers.

* Spray your sliding door tracks with a silicone lubricant. Or try aerosol polish. The wax in the polish reduces friction and doesn't attract dirt.

* Adjust the roller height if the door scrapes or binds against the track at the top or bottom. On wood doors, the adjusting screw is on the inside of the bottom rail. On aluminum doors, it's on the vertical edge.

* If your rollers still don't glide smoothly, remove the door and clean or replace the rollers. Have a friend help you because patio doors usually weigh about 150 pounds each. To remove a newer wood door, unscrew the top drawer stop, tilt the sliding portion inward, and lift it off its track. If you have an older wood door or one with an aluminum frame, lift the sliding door up and swing the bottom inward. You may have to loosen the roller adjustment screw first.

* Unscrew the latch assembly if it operates poorly. Clean and lubricate it with light oil. If that fails or if the parts have broken, you'll have to replace the assembly.

* Adjust the latch strike plate if the latch operates smoothly but fails to catch the plate.

* Replace weatherstripping when it doesn't seal the door properly. It's inexpensive, but some types might be hard to find because there are many sizes and shapes. Take a sample of your old weatherstripping along to find the closest match when you buy the new material.

* To make the vinyl insect screens in your doors look like new again, spray the screening with an automotive protectant. It removes the dirt and restores the color, which washing alone can't do.

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