Quick Tips for the Home

How to Fix a Sliding Screen Door

When your sliding screen door won't slide or always falls off, it can be frustrating. Learn some common repair tips for your sliding screen door.

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A sliding patio door is a great feature. It lets light into your home, gives you a great view of your backyard and makes it easy to enjoy the nice summer weather. A sliding screen door lets you get fresh air and transition seamlessly from indoors to outdoors — or at least, it should. 

But a screen door that doesn’t slide very well can be a huge source of frustration. And if you don’t repair it right away, you could end up having to replace the whole door. That’s because using brute force to open and close a screen door in need of repair can further damage the door and the track it runs on. And screen doors aren’t cheap, so you want to keep yours in good shape for as long as possible. 

Fortunately, a sliding screen door repair is a relatively straightforward DIY project. You can easily learn how to repair a sliding screen door that sticks yourself, whether the problem is with the wheels, the track or both. Follow these steps to get your screen door opening and closing smoothly again in no time.

Remove the Door from the Track

First things first: before you can check the track or wheels for damage, you have to remove the screen door from the track. Your door should have two adjustment screws near each bottom corner of the frame. Turn these screws counterclockwise to loosen the wheels and lower the door.

With the door lowered, reach down and raise one wheel out of the door track using your fingers or a flathead screwdriver. You should then be able to lift the entire door up and pull the bottom edge out of the bottom track. Remove the top of the door from its track by pulling down. Place the door on a large table or balance it on a pair of sawhorses so you can examine and replace the wheels. 

Clean the Bottom Track

Before you start removing the wheels from your screen door, check out the track and vacuum any dust, debris or gunk that has accumulated inside it. You’d be surprised how dirty these tracks can get, and accumulated debris could be the only thing that’s keeping your screen door from sliding freely. Don’t add any oil or grease to the track, however. Lubricants will trap more debris and dust in the track, making the door more difficult to open in the future. 

Straighten the Top and Bottom Tracks

Carefully examine the top and bottom tracks for dents. If the tracks need to be straightened, you can carefully bend them back into shape with a pair of pliers. Or, you can use a small wooden block to straighten the bent metal. Hold the block against the bent area and carefully rap on it with a hammer until the bend is straightened out.

Replace the Wheels

Now it’s time to examine and replace the wheels on your screen door. Remove the adjustment screws and gently pry the wheels out with a finger or a flathead screwdriver. There may be clips holding each wheel and spring assembly in place. Carefully disengage these clips and remove the wheels and spring assemblies from the door.

Bring one of the old wheels with you to the hardware store so you can be sure of buying a replacement wheel that will match. There will most likely be at least three kinds of screen door wheels on offer, and you want to make sure you choose the right one. If you can’t find the wheel you need at your hardware store, search for replacement parts online using the name of the door manufacturer. You should be able to find replacement parts to purchase directly from the manufacturer, even if you have an old screen door. If you can’t, though, you may need to replace the whole door.

Once you have the new wheels, they should attach to your screen door the same way the old ones did. Replace the wheels, making sure to engage the clip that holds them in place, if your door has such clips. Replace the adjustment screw. With the wheels in place, put the screen door back in the track by slotting it into the upper track and then dropping it straight down into the lower. 

Hold the door so that the frame is about a quarter inch from the edge of the door jamb. Turn the adjustment screws clockwise until the frame is parallel with the edge of the door jamb. Adjust the screws until the frame is about ⅛ of an inch above the tracks. 

At this point, your screen door should slide back and forth smoothly without dragging on the threshold. But if it does drag, loosen the adjustment screw slightly to adjust the wheels and raise the door.

At American Home Shield®, we know that keeping your home in good shape is important. Stay tuned to the Home Matter Blog for more home repair, maintenance, and renovation tips and tricks like these!

DIY tips are for informational purposes only. Learn more.

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