Sliding doors are a space-saving solution for connecting your indoor and outdoor living spaces. Sticking door sashes are a common problem, which, fortunately, have simple fixes.
What Makes Sliding Doors Stick?
Sliding doors can stick from one or more causes:
Thermal Expansion – All materials expand and contract according to temperature changes. Patio door frames and sashes are typically made of wood or composite derived from wood fibers. As the sash and/or frame expands from the heat, they push against each other, resulting in tight frames.
Moisture – Wood fibers expand from moisture absorption. Sliding doors with wood frames are typically made with treated wood. Sometimes, this waterproofing gets worn out, leaving the bare wood vulnerable to water damage. As the wood swells, it tightens against the frame.
Dirt and Grit – Sliding doors operate using a track-and-roller system. Sometimes, the track and/or rollers get clogged by dirt or grit, resulting in a grinding noise or stuck sashes.
Faulty Hardware – The rollers at the bottom of the sashes can get damaged over time.
How to Fix Sticking Patio Doors
Before you call a patio door and siding repair contractor, or even try any of the following fixes, find out what the cause is. If your patio door is swollen, is it because of heat or moisture? Many DIYers recommend planing the sash of a heat-swollen patio door by a few sixteenths of an inch; however, this would expose the wood layer to moisture damage. It may also void your patio door warranty.
If the patio door is sticking because of dirty rollers or tracks, cleaning it would be fairly easy. However, you shouldn’t remove the sashes alone. Sliding door sashes are mostly made of glass and can be a lot heavier than they look. Follow the removal instructions, and then clean the frames and hardware using a clean cloth. You can use a soft nylon brush to remove the dirt on the tracks, and then vacuum them dry. Drop-in replacements are typically available for broken rollers. Make sure you are buying the right replacement parts for the right sliding door.