Have you noticed your patio door is getting harder and harder to open ? Maybe it's time to change the rollers on the door. They generally last from ten to fifteen years but they do wear out and its a job that a do-it-yourselfer can accomplish with a little advice and some strong arms to get the door out !
Sliding patio doors are usually aluminum but there are many wooden and vinyl models on the market. All of them use ball bearing rollers to slide easily back and forth. The aluminum and some vinyl doors have a door bottom that is held in place by 2 screws on either side of the door near the bottom. Beneath the screw is usually an open hole in which there is an adjusting screw to raise the roller up and down. The wooden doors often have pairs of rollers due to their extra weight. The adjusting screws are accesible through plastic caps covering holes in the front of the door bottom.
I mention the adjusting screws because you need to check them before deciding to pull the door out and replace the rollers. Slide a big flat blade screwdriver underneath the door on one side and lift slightly to remove the weight from the roller. Use another screwdriver to turn the adjustment screw. See if that makes the door slide better.
Sometimes thats all thats necessary but if the adjusting screws wont turn or are totally missing, you will have to lift the door out of its track and remove the large screws holding the door bottom on and pull the door bottom off. Get help to lift the door out. Two people are needed to safely handle even the smaller patio doors. The door bottom may not pull off easily especially if the door is old. Check for any metal tabs that may be holding it on and gently work the bottom off.
Some old aluminum and vinyl patio doors have rollers that use one screw both to mount the roller and to adjust it. These types of rollers can often be changed without removing the bottom of the door. Look carefully at the bottom of the door in case there is room to pull the roller assembly out.
Wooden patio door rollers are somewhat easier to change, although the door itself is much heavier. The rollers are often screwed in to the wood door bottom. Remove the screws, and out come the roller.
Some Vinyl patio doors are glued together. They were never intended to come apart. You may not be able to remove the rollers if you see no visible screws holding the frame together. Also vinyl doors are often brittle with age and crack easily as you try to pry off the door bottom. Take extra care if you have a vinyl patio door.
Once you have the bottom off the patio door it should be easy to see how the rollers are held in. Usually, removing one screw or bending a metal tab is all thats necessary. Remove the rollers and take them with you to your local glass shop to get the proper replacements.
To reassemble everything start by adjusting the new rollers so they are up as high as they can go. You dont want them getting in the way when you reinstall the door on its track. Make sure you cover the roller retaining screws with cork or rubber if they come near the bare glass in the door bottom. If the metal screws touch the glass, it will crack.
Replace the door bottom, reinstall the screws that secure it and lift the door back in to place. Follow the instructions gave earlier for adjusting the rollers. You should now be able to see the door move up and down when you turn the adjusting screws. You will also be able to align the door with the frame using the screws. Your patio door lock may need to be adjusted to compensate for the new door height.
Try the door and you should be amazed at how easy it is to close. It should only require a couple of pounds of force to open and close. No more fighting with a heavy door and you did it all yourself !
Adrian Dunevein runs a self help website for people who want to do their own window and door screen repair. The website is a complete resource for anyone needing to repair or replace any type of screen.