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When a sliding screen door comes off of its track, it’s instantly noticeable and aggravating to boot. It’s lightweight enough that it’s easy to knock off of its rollers and heavy enough to be a pain in the ‘you know what’ to set it right again.
Getting a sliding screen door back on track is difficult to do without bending a frame that is much lighter and less durable than a sliding glass door. You will have to use the spring mechanism for the top rollers or some screen doors use screws that will force the bottom rollers to recede.
The most important part is getting it back into the tracks without bending the frame.
Some screen sliding doors are a little more resilient than others but if you get frustrated with it and try to force it, doing damage to the frame is much more likely than with a standard sliding door.
What Causes A Sliding Screen Door to Come Off Track?
The biggest cause behind a sliding screen door coming off of its track is debris inside the tracks. As it rolls closed or opened, the debris acts like a ramp that the rollers roll up and over. Take a small rock for example. Since it is a rock, it’s not likely that it’s going to be a perfectly streamlined shape.
When the roller hits it and rolls up and over the rock, it’s liable to slide off of the surface to the left or the right, since rollers aren’t exactly designed to be all-terrain wheels inside of a sliding door track.
It doesn’t have to be a rock or a pebble either. It can be something as simple as too much dirt, which will ruin the roller’s ability to smoothly roll up and down the track. Impacts can take a sliding screen door off its track as well.
We mentioned the fact that many sliding screen doors have very fragile, easy to bend frames. A significant impact, like a pet dog running into it thinking that the door is open, might be enough to bow the door in temporarily, knocking the rollers up and out of the track.
Steps to Fix
Remove the Door Completely from the Track
When a screen door’s rollers get knocked off of their track, the simplest method for setting things right again is to completely remove the sliding screen door off of its track so that you can access the track itself.
Thoroughly Clean the Track
If you have a shop-vac, that’s one of the best tools for cleaning out the track that you can get your hands on, but an attachable hose on a standard vacuum will do the trick as well.
You could also use a broom, however, you want to ensure that it is completely clean so you would need to follow-up with a damp rag or towel to get every last bit of debris.
An old toothbrush is a perfect tool for cleaning out any residual grime and debris that may have found its way into the track over the years. Simply take your toothbrush, add a little soap and water, and start scrubbing the inside of the track.
Make sure the track is completely dry when you are done. You can even use a dry rag or strong napkins to help it dry quicker.
Identify and Straighten Any Bends in the Track
You can also use the occasion to look for any bends in the track. If you find one, you can use a pair of needle nose pliers or a pair of pliers with a wider grip to straighten out the damaged sidewalls of the track.
Lubricate the Sliding Screen Door
You don’t need a special lubricant to make the sliding door slide easily along its track. All you need to do is make sure that the track is clean enough to eat food out of. A can of WD-40 will do the trick.
As for the track, you can spray the lubricant on a clean rag and wipe down the track thoroughly. It’s also fine to spray directly on the track, just don’t overdo it to the point where you have too much in there.
Also, spray the rollers on top and on the bottom of the sliding screen door as well.
Placing the Sliding Screen Door Back on Track
There are generally two types of sliding screen doors, in terms of how their rollers operate. The first is the spring mechanism which is usually located at the top corner of the screen door, where the rollers are sticking out from the top.
It’s a simple mechanism that you can pull back and, in turn, pull the rollers down into a recessed cavity within the top of the frame.
The second mechanism requires a screwdriver. With these types of rollers, you will find two screws at the bottom of the screen door.
You don’t need to unscrew them all the way out and remove the screw entirely. All you need to do is grab a Phillips Head and unscrew them just enough so that you can pull the roller wheel up and into the door cavity.
The spring mechanism is much easier to work with, since it is at the top of the door, easily accessible as you are fitting the door back into the tracks.
The bottom, screw-held roller is more difficult because you have to stay bent down, holding the roller up while trying to fit the screen door back into its track. Regardless of which one you have, fitting the door back onto the track is relatively the same.
- When you are ready to replace the sliding screen door, stand outside, facing the door
- Hold the screen door up and keep it at a slight angle, the top side facing farther out
- Push the top of the sliding screen door into the track, manipulating the spring mechanism at the top as you do so (if applicable)
- Now push the bottom of the sliding screen door up to the edge of the bottom of the track
- Lift up and push in at the same time
- If it won’t quite snap in at the bottom, grab a flat head screwdriver or butter knife
- Use either one of these to leverage the bottom of the sliding screen door into place
- Once it’s in place, use the adjustment screws to improve the sliding back and forth by making it smoother
The wheels on the top and bottom of sling screen doors may need to be replaced as well. If so, then everything that we listed above remains the same in terms of getting the sliding screen door back on its tracks. The only difference is, that when you remove the door, you will have to replace the wheels.
Replacing the rollers is not a difficult task, as they are usually held in place by two screws on the top or the bottom and you can simply remove the screws and the roller will drop out. Set your new rollers in place and reinsert the original screws or the screws that came with the new rollers.
All Things Considered
Replacing a sliding screen door is usually a pretty easy process, however, making sure that everything is prepped, cleaned, and otherwise checked over is just as important as getting the door back on.
After all, what’s the point of reinserting the sliding screen door into its track if it’s still full of the same dirt and debris that knocked the rollers out, to begin with?
Baker, T. (N/A). Get a Sliding Screen Back on Track
Retrieved from: https://www.thisoldhouse.com/doors/21015805/get-a-sliding-screen-back-on-track
Harsch, C. (December 9, 2018). How to Fix a Screen Door That’s Off Its Rollers
Retrieved from: https://homeguides.sfgate.com/houseplants-repel-mosquitoes-cockroaches-pests-13771627.html