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How to maintain your sliding patio doors

Sliding patio doors offer great functionality and style to your home, both by allowing more natural light into your property and opening up your living spaces.

Added to any house, sliding glass doors bring the outside world in, while also helping to maintain a comfortable indoor climate, even during seasonal temperature extremes.

However, just like many other parts of your property, sliding door maintenance is required. From sticky tracks to worn-out rollers, a failure to carry out regular maintenance can stop it from operating smoothly.

So, before you start considering sliding door replacement options, here are some useful maintenance tips to ensure yours stay in tip top shape.

Tip #1 - Clean the Glass of Your Sliding Doors

Cleaning the glass of a sliding door

We'll start with the most obvious maintenance task for your sliding glass door, which basically involves giving it a good clean to remove general dust, pet hair, fine dirt & grim grime, and sticky fingerprints - something you'll know all about if you have children.

Over time, debris and dirt can build up - just like it can with your windows - but it's easily removed with some warm water and soap or by using vinegar-based window cleaner and some old newspaper or paper towels.

Obviously, you'll need to wash outside too for a 100% gleaming finish for your shiny windows. In terms of outward appearance, this going to be the most impactful type of maintenance you can carry out on your sliding patio door.

Tip #2 - Cleaning Your Door Frames

cleaning door frames

The next part of the job of sliding door maintenance is to ensure the door frame is also spotlessly clean. Ideally, you'll be cleaning your door frames both inside and out - as it's something that will help to protect the outer frame seal.

Cleaning the surrounding frame of your patio doors is easy with some warm, soapy water, so you shouldn't have to use anything less gentle. What you absolutely shouldn't be doing is using any harsh chemicals on your internal or external frame that might tarnish the finish.

The material OF the surrounding frame matters

uPVC door frames don't need much more than this, as the polyurethane they're made from is ultra-low maintenance. As such, no extra considerations need to be made.

However, when talking about wooden frames around your sliding doors, regular cleaning will suffice, however, re-varnishing needs also be carried out every 5-10 years to maintain the barrier it provides to the outside world.

If your sliding doors have any wooden or uPVC door panels as part of the exterior frame, you should be sure to give them the same treatment for an even look.

Tip #3 - Cleaning Your Sliding Door Track

cleaning the door track

When your sliding door track is clean and free of obstructions, you'll find that the door slides smoothly and quickly. However, when it's clogged by kids crumbs, dust and dog hair, you're often left with sticky doors.

A sticking door can prove to be a real nuisance when it occurs, particularly as it might impact your home's security by preventing you from using the patio door lock. In the worst-case scenarios, your door rollers may experience rickety movement or even jump out of the bottom track, leading to derailed doors.

Clean Out the Entire Rail

During the course of everyday use, you'll typically find a good deal of blown in debris, but it's not too difficult to deal with. All you need to do is get a butter knife and drag all of the dirt and built-up stuff. This should be enough to achieve the clean grooves you're looking for.

Once you have the bulk of the debris out, you can remove all the small bits left behind with an old toothbrush and a vacuum cleaner (using the thin attachment designed to get into all the crevices).

Tip #4 - Should You Lubricate the Top & Bottom Tracks?

Debris should be the only issue that can lead to your sliding doors sticking, as while friction can also play a big part in how smoothly they open and close, your aluminum tracks - which include both the bottom and top track rails - shouldn't need to be given regular lubrication.

A great feature of aluminum tracks is that they don't require oil for the doors to move smoothly along. They won't rust either, making them about as low-maintenance as you can get. Keeping them free from obstructions is all you need to do.

You see, adding oil to aluminum tracks can cause issues by clogging up the rollers, leading to door stickiness again. That said if the tracks for your sliding patio doors have a steel construction, you should use a good silicone spray from your local hardware shop.

Silicone lubricants are a better alternative to oil-based as they are better for not clogging with dirt. These popular choices work well with sliding patio doors and are market leading silicone-based lubricants.

It's sometimes easier to remove the doors from the tracks

Also, although it does involve a little more work, it's often easier to remove your sliding doors from their tracks before you clean. This allows for quicker cleaning of all the grooves that exist and the simple task to replace them once you've finished.

Tip #4 - Checking/Replacing Worn Out Rollers

Putting new rollers on a sliding door

If after carrying out the first three steps, you're still finding that your sliding patio door is sticking, you may need to replace worn rollers.

You might lucky in that they simply need to be removed, cleaned, lubricated, and reinstalled. You just need to ensure that any excess lubricant is wiped away before positioning them back into the patio door's rails.

On the other hand, if you open things up and find that one or more of your sliding patio door rollers is damaged, you will need to replace them.

You should also be sure to check the tightness of the roller screws. If your roller screws look a bit loose, tightening them up with a screwdriver can help to restore smooth operation.

Tip #5 - Check Your Sliding Glass Door Panel Alignment

Our next entry in our list of tips for sliding door maintenance involves checking that the panels of your sliding glass doors are properly aligned.

Whether caused by bad installation, impact, or ongoing misuse of your sliding doors, your sliding patio doors can become misaligned with the door frame. The aforementioned debris can also contribute to the problem.

You can fix this by either removing the door and realigning it or simply adjusting your roller screws until everything seems to be where it should be.

Again, there's a possibility that the tracks or even the door rollers need to be replaced, as there's no guarantee that the installer followed the manufacturer's instructions.

Tip #6 - Check For Humps & Dips In the Bottom Track

Another problem that can cause trouble for the smooth operation of your sliding patio doors is when a dip or hump appears in the sill (a.k.a. the bottom track). This is a problem that's caused by the panel dragging or when being opened or closed.

If you're experiencing this problem, it's one that does demand your attention, as it threatens the long-term integrity of your sliding doors. You see, when it's left unfixed, you could end up breaking the door - meaning a full replacement is needed.

If this sounds familiar to you, our advice would be to check in with your local door expert and give an assessment as to what needs to be done to resolve the problem.

Tip #7 - Replace Weatherstripping

replacing weatherstripping

When the ice and snow come or it becomes cold and windy outside, weatherstripping helps to keep draughts away and creates a comfortable indoor temperature. However, new weatherstripping is needed every 5 years or so, as it degrades over time.

In order to provide better insulation, the integrity of the strips needs to be ensured, so if the old strips look like they've seen better days, it's likely time to replace them with new ones.

The good news is that it's not a tough job, although you will need to completely remove them, along with any glue residue left behind. As such, you need to wash the surface before applying the adhesive strips, so they can attach firmly and create a firm seal.

Keeping Your Patio Doors Looking & Functioning Great!

So, as we can see, keeping your sliding patio doors looking and functioning well doesn't take too much work. No matter if you have patio doors made from wood, uPVC or even aluminium composite material, the maintenance tips remain largely the same.

This is just one of many home improvement blogs we create on a regular basis, cover many aspects relating to doors, door locks, and a range of other door hardware - something we offer a wide range of in the Hiatt online store.

That's it from us this time around, we hope you found our blog useful. Be sure to check back with us again soon for more from the home of premium door hardware.