Replacing Your Sliding Glass Door Rollers
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Posted: Saturday, December 04, 2004
How To Install Windows
If the sliding glass doors in your home are more than 10 years old, you might notice that they are becoming harder to slide open. This problem is even more common on aluminum frame dual pane doors. The reason is because the doors are heavier due to the dual pane glass, but many of the aluminum units did not use stainless steel rollers. So, in many cases, the rollers get rusty from moisture and they start to bind.
But, let's assume you need to remove the fixed panel first. Here is what you do: Remove your screen door if you have one. The screen door will have two rollers on the bottom. Lift one end of the door frame with one hand while using a flat screwdriver to lift the roller off the track. Do that on both sides, then take out the screen door and set it aside. Now, look for a metal piece on the bottom track that runs from the bottom corner of the fixed panel all the way across to the bottom of the side jamb that has the door lock hardware. If your door is really old that piece might be missing. If you have one, you can pry it up from the track. It is snapped in place even though it looks like it is a part of the track. Once you have that piece removed, you want to look inside the house where the fixed panel is against the wall jam. Look for screws holding the frame to the jam. They usually have one near the top and bottom corners, and one near the center. Remove these screws and put them where you won't lose them.
Now, you should be able to pull the fixed panel out of the side jam. There is a very good chance that it will be stuck. If it is, grab the center rail near the bottom and lift up as hard as you can. If you feel the panel go up, pull it back down. Do this a couple of times, then try to pull it out of the side jam again. This usually loosens it enough to pull it out. If it still won't come out, you will have to put a thin screwdriver between the fixed panel frame and the side jam and pry while a helper pulls the panel away from the jam. Once you get it free of the side jam, grab the fixed panel side rail and have a helper grab the other rail. Lift the panel up into the top track and swing the bottom out of the bottom track. Remove the panel from the top track and set it aside with the screen door.
Now, you can try lifting the slider up and out, just like you did with the fixed panel. If the slider won't clear the bottom track, you need to do a couple of things. First, look to see if it's the old rollers protruding from the bottom that is preventing the door from coming out, or if the actual bottom of the door frame is hitting the track. In almost all cases, it will be the old rollers. But, if the opening is 8' wide, sometimes the wood header that runs across the opening has sagged just enough to make it tight in the center of the opening. If it's the rollers, you need to adjust them all the way up into the door. Look for a hole on the bottom side where you can put a phillips screwdriver and find the adjustment screw. Then turn that screw counterclockwise as far as you can. Do that to both sides, then try lifting out the door. If you are still getting stuck, have your helper lift one side and pull outward while you try to pry the frame and roller over the track. If you get one side out, have your helper hold that side with his or her foot to prevent it from going back in while he or she lifts the other side for you to pry free.
Once you get the slider out, almost all rollers are held in place by the same screw that holds the frame corners together. So, you need to set the panel on one side, remove the screw in the corner, flip the panel over, remove the screw on the other bottom corner. Now, you can take a rubber mallet or the wood handle of a hammer, and tap the bottom frame off the glass. This will give you access to your rollers. Take a close look at how they are inserted into the door frame. In fact, it's a good idea to only remove one roller to bring with you to match for the new ones. Then, when you get back home, you can use the roller that is still in place as a guide to installing the new ones.
Places like Home Depot, Lowes, and Ace Hardware carry about 80-90% of the rollers out there. So, you should be able to find them. However, let's say this just isn't your lucky day, and you can't find your rollers anywhere.
You are going to have to have them ordered. Bring the roller to your local glass shop. If you're lucky, they will have them in stock. If not, they can order the rollers, but you won't get them for about a week. Don't panic.
Just go home and tap the bottom frame back on the door panel, but leave the corner screws out. You can even leave the roller out that you removed. Lift the door back in place, install the fixed panel but don't snap the bottom piece back in, and don't install the inside screws. Then, from inside the house, lift the slider and pull it closed. You don't want to drag it if you left the roller out. It will scrape the bottom track. Just lift it enough to take the pressure off, and close and lock it.
When Your new rollers come in, take everything back out and install the new rollers. Adjust the new rollers all the way up before putting the door back in. That way, the new rollers won't interfere with you lifting it back in place. Adjust the new rollers down until the door slides good and locks.
You want to be sure there is an equal gap at the top and bottom when the door is about an inch from closing into the side jam. You can adjust the rollers to make this dimension even. If you can get the job done by a professional for $50 or $60 including parts, it might be worth hiring someone to do it. But, in high population areas such as Los Angeles, it's common to pay $100 in labor only. Then they mark up the cost of the rollers, and you could wind up spending $130 for a job that you can do yourself for about $20. Next week i'm going to tell you how to repair your broken or defective window glass.
John Rocco has been installing replacement windows since 1978.
To learn more, visit How To Install Windows
This Article has been viewed 81,437 times. (Not updated in real-time.)More comments
» left by Dean from Central Florida 3 years 196 days ago.
Worked out great! After not finding my rollers at Ace, Lowe's, or Home Depot, I went to our local mom and pop window and door store. They had the rollers in stock and also recommended putting a track cap on the track rail. If you rail has any dips or dents in it, I highly recommend getting the track cap (a piece of stainless steel that fits over the old track rail).
» left by dbar 3 years 188 days ago.
My 35 year old glass sliding door rolls off the track. Have cleaned, adjusted, oiled, and then replaced the rollers. One week after breaking down and hiring a $130 handyman, the door had to be pushed back into place from the outside again. Sigh. I can not see a problem with my rail but tried to locate a track cap just in case. Also tried to locate a screw-in track clip which is suppose to scissor over the rail and hold the door on during high winds (US patent 6434789). Had no luck finding a company or their product code to order by. Home Depot, Lowe's, Ace Hdwre, True Value, and online have not helped yet. Can someone help me please.
» left by C D from Palm Desert 3 years 140 days ago.
Roller replacement instructions were spot on.
» left by Anonymous 3 years 133 days ago.
This worked exactly as described - thanks!
» left by Thomas from SRQ 3 years 102 days ago.
I have 2 4'x8' pocketing SGDs. What do I do to remove the most used first one only and replace the rollers?
» left by Anonymous 3 years 94 days ago.
You can always get universal sliding door replacement parts at Slide-Ezzz or call us at (800) 284-7136. Our 4 products repair every door on the market.
» left by Richard from Estero, FL 3 years 67 days ago.
Great start for me by reading instructions on this site. My sliders are 10 years old and the lanai doors get lots of use and the roller wheel bearings were worn. I had no problem removing the doors but removing the roller wheel assembly took a bit of doing by spreading the metal to remove the assembly. I could not find a perfect match at Lowes or ACE; but did find the wheels and a replacement screw rivet. By drilling out the flange on the original rivet, I was able to pop out the rivet and wheel, inserted the replacement wheel, and the two-piece replacement rivet fit perfectly (installed with a Phillips screwdriver and I then re-inserted the original assembly with the new wheel. The doors work like new, and I hope to get another 10 years of use! The instructions on how to take apart the bottom panel and the wheel assembly were of great value!
» left by Ruthie from Sacramento 2 years 329 days ago.
My slider's rollers are unaccessible. They are shoved up in the metal frame of the door. A few years ago we did take the entire sliding panel into Lowes and the guys there even used a screwdriver to try and pop them out without luck. Is there a way to access them by removing the metal that frames the glass? I am not sure I can do this job but I will try. :) Certaingly do not have the money to replace the whole door.» left by john1r 2 years 329 days ago.
You have to remove the bottom corner screws, then you can tap the metal off the glass. Then you slide the rollers out and install the new ones and make sure the rubber is properly on the edge of the glass before tapping the metal back on and putting the screws back in.
» left by Anonymous 2 years 297 days ago.
these instructions were key to getting the job done right. never would have thought to remove bottom metal bracket from glass.woohoo. i can finally use the door again.
» left by Andrew Simper from Coffs Harbour Australia 2 years 284 days ago.
Absolute life saver! Thank you so much for providing these really useful instructions. All the best, Andrew Simper