When we first bought our house, the sliding glass door opened with some difficulty. Sliding glass door repair wasn’t high on the priority list, and we ignored the problem for some time. Within about a year, you couldn’t apply the word “some” at all. It was much like wrestling a very large, very heavy slab of glass to a place it didn’t want to go.
Eventually, we finally couldn’t take it anymore. Within the same week we called my dad, looked on the internet and contacted a handyman. All three of them told us the same thing (well, the internet didn’t actually tell us, but the information we found pointed us in this direction) – sliding glass door repair is relatively easy to do yourself and much cheaper.
The fix was as simple as replacing the wheels on the underside of the door and cleaning out the track. We did it ourselves and were absolutely thrilled with the results! And we figured we saved ourselves a few hundred dollars. Plus we had bragging rights!
At the time I didn’t think to document the steps. Fast forward a few years and into the home of our lovely neighbors and we discovered they had the exact same problem. Their door was a major chore to open, but they hadn’t quite gotten around to doing anything about it. Just like us, sliding glass door repair wasn’t their strong suit, so I asked if we could fix it and take pictures…and they very kindly said yes.
Don’t be afraid to ask your neighbors, friends, or family for help. You might be surprised at how enthusiastic people are about helping out!
The Before Video
Some quick before-you-start tips for your own sliding glass door repair:
- Don’t do this on a day with extreme temperatures or a lot of precipitation. Your door will be off for a bit so you’ll want to pick a day with pleasant weather.
- Either purchase the replacement wheels ahead of time or if you’re like us and need to see what’s in there before you know what you need, pick a time of day that you know the local hardware store will be open. Either that – or be ready to put the door back on (just as a temporary measure!)
- Assemble some cleaning supplies before you start. I recommend paper towels or old towels, cleaning product (degreaser preferably), a vacuum cleaner, and some light grease to re-grease the track after you clean it.
Sliding Glass Door Repair in Step by Step Instructions with Pictures
Step 1 – Take the Door Off
Sounds easy right? Strangely enough, it’s probably the hardest part depending on the size of your door. If you are at all worried about whether or not you can lift your door without help, don’t! This is a two person job in many cases.
The trick to getting the door out of the track is to find the spot where the top of the track has an indent. Move your door to this spot, then push the door upwards. Next, tilt at an angle and pull the door clear of the bottom track followed by the top track. Please be careful during this step (the door shown below is an 8 foot door and weighs upwards of a 100 pounds).
Step 2 – Remove the Wheels
Okay, the tricky part is done! Now you gotta take out the old wheels and find some replacements. Hopefully your wheels are a standard size like ours were. You simply unscrew the wheel assembly on both sides of your door (you’ll need to flip it from side to side to get at both of them easily) and pull them out. These wheels took a little bit of coaxing to get out (note the needlenose pliers and screwdriver combo), but they did come out!
I should also mention that this project was a bit strange because the wheel assembly had been built into the door frame. Most wheels are sold with wheels and housing. The replacement assembly for our door contained a two part housing. The housing had an outer component and an inner component. We took the old wheels and inner housing out, but left the outer housing inside the door frame.
The needle nose pliers shown below are helping to “open up” the bottom of the door in order to get the wheels out since they are actually placed in a groove. The pliers were stuck into the door frame vertically, opened slightly, then turned horizontally in order to force the door frame to open up enough to pull the wheel and inner housing out.
Some close-ups of the wheel and inner housing (above and below)
Step 3 – Clean, Clean, Clean!!
This step is super easy as long as you don’t mind a little elbow grease. No one ever said that sliding glass door repair was all glamorous parts and tools! You’ll need to clean the track thoroughly and the bottom of the door.
I recommend a vacuum first, then some scrubbing with some soap and water (an old toothbrush gets right down into the track). The door should be vacuumed thoroughly, then wiped down. After everything is all squeaky clean, a coating of dry lubricant should be applied to the track.
Step 4 – Install the New Wheels
Now that you’ve removed the old and cleaned away the gunk – all you have to do is screw in the new wheels you’ve purchased. Simply reverse the process of removal – insert the wheels and screw them back into place. First you screw the inner housing back to the outer housing of the wheel assembly (the picture to the left). Next you replace the screw that holds the whole unit in place (a shot of the completed fix is to your right).
Step 5 – Put the Door Back On
Just like with Step 4, Step 5 is a reversal of the steps you took to remove the door…lift the door (carefully or with help if need be) and align with the track. It should pop right back in (top first, then bottom) and the new wheels and clean track will be a complete transformation.
In the picture on the left in Step 4, note that the interior screw can be used to level the door after you’ve reinstalled it (most door frames aren’t square). To adjust the door up, turn the screw to the right which will push the wheel down. To adjust the door down, turn the screw to the left which will push the wheel up (too far up will take the screw out and the wheel will fall out so be cautious with this one). The adjustment can be made to both sides of the door in order to get it “just right”.
Step 6 – Enjoy
Here’s an after video!
Sliding glass door repair can be really easy! If we can do it, so can you.