The Real Story


First… It is rare that that any sliding patio door NEEDS to be completely replaced due to it’s unacceptable operation.

Secondly… Siding patio doors don’t slide… they roll… so lubricating the track doesn’t help much.

Two sets of sturdy wheels with ball bearings are hidden in the bottom frame of the door. And, after a period of time, the bearings wear down causing the wheels to drag under the weight of the heavy door.

Unless a truck ran into your patio door, ALL sliding patio doors can be cost-effectively repaired to work and look as good as new… or better… for a tenth of the cost of a new set of doors.

The five common reasons for a malfunctioning sliding patio door:

(We will not include broken or foggy glass.)

After the first year, bearings begin to wear. Little by little, the door gets slightly harder to move. After a decade or so, it becomes a struggle. So many folks have lived with doors that are difficult to move they have just come to accept it. Most attribute it to the fact that the door is so heavy. Not true at all.
All sliding patio doors should be able to be moved in either direction with your little finger!
To replace the wheels on the door… the entire sliding door (and sometimes the stationary door) must be removed. Due to the settling of the home over the years, this is not always an easy job. Although, the wheel replacement itself can take less than a half hour, once the door is removed. When new wheels have been installed, lubricated and properly adjusted… the door should glide. One problem… there are hundreds of different styles of wheels in different sizes for hundreds of different door manufacturers. You will find only a few at your local home center. And, for the most part, you need to first remove the door before you know what style and size wheels are needed. You just can’t use any style wheel. A novice could take weeks to find the right wheels… if at all.

The curvature in the wheels should mate with a smooth track upon which they roll. They don’t slide. So, lubricating the lower track with oil or grease doesn’t help unless your wheels are shot to begin with… and then, only for a day or two. And then, the oily grease only serves to attract dirt, fibers, hair, fur, etc. Sometimes, the bearings have deteriorated to such a degree that the wheels have stopped rolling all together and are dragging on the track… wearing down and gouging the track surface. A cost-effective track repair is a common solution.

If your door handle is loose, broken or the door won’t lock the way it did… the reason is most likely due to the repeated stress needed to move the door. Compatible handle/lock assemblies are readily available.

If your home had never settled… the insulating features the door manufacturer provided might not wear, would stay clean and would always be in the intended positions to seal out the elements. However, in the real world insulating materials are often found worn, dislodged, painted, dirty or greasy with foundations sagging, framing warping as panels shift and air gaps widen. Cost-effective solutions are available.

Before the contractor installed your sliding patio doors he created an opening in the wall for the assembly. And, since the opening was often eight to twelve feet long, he fortified the top with a heavier support beam or header. This was to prevent the glass doors from becoming a load-bearing wall. This support beam was often made of steel years ago…then a substantial wooden beam… and now, a few two-by-fours. Such cost-saving measures during housing booms and with large subdivisions are not uncommon. So, it’s not surprising that either due to settling of the home or insufficient support, the top track may be resting on your sliding patio door, crushing the bearings in the wheels and making the door almost impossible to lift out. However, this too can be cost-effectively alleviated for at least another decade.