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Do your sliding doors stick, wobble, or scrape? Most problems with closet doors are caused by the wheels popping out of the guides or dirty tracks. But loose screws and damage to the door or track will also keep them from opening smoothly. If you have trouble opening or closing your closet, here is how to fix sliding closet doors.
What Causes Problems With Sliding Closet Doors?
Before you can fix your sliding closet doors, you need to figure out what caused the problem. Aside from wheels popping out of the tracks, dirt build-up is the number one reason you are having a problem opening sliding doors. However, loose screws and damage will also make it hard to open or close your closet. Here is what to check if your sliding doors stick or won’t open.
- Out of the Guide Track – One of the most common issues is the roller wheels popping out of the track. When the wheels pop out, they often cause the door to stick or slide stiffly.
- Dirt & Rust Build Up – Over time, dirt and rust can build up in the closet door track on your sliding doors. When mixed with the lubricating oil in the track, the debris will create a paste that causes the door to stick.
- Loose Screws – Loose screws can also cause door the door to wobble or rub against the wall, ceiling, or floor.
- Worn Out Wheels or Barrings – Although unlikely, the wheels can crack and the barring can wear out. This is usually the issue if your door drags, grinds, or skips when you try to open it.
- Damaged Tracks or Doors – Bent or warped track will keep doors from sliding properly. Damaged doors may stick or lock up.
How To Fix Sliding Closet Doors That Don’t Roll or Open Smoothly
Once you know what’s causing your problem, you can start fixing it yourself.
Putting the Wheels Back in the Track
The wheels on your sliding door will sometimes pop out, making it hard to open or close the door. This is most common on double-track closets, but it can happen with just upper track closets too.
Putting the wheels back on the track is extremely easy for single-track systems. Step into the closet, then lift the door up.
Then push forward gently until the roller wheels are in the upper track. Slowly let it down and test that it slides smoothly.
For double-track closet doors, look at the wheel that popped out. Most are spring-loaded to keep the wheel in the track.
However, the spring can pop or the wheel can get jammed in the mechanism. Push the wheel up into the housing to release the spring.
If it pops free, set it back into the track and make sure it slides correctly. If the wheel doesn’t pop out, you may need to replace the entire assembly.
Cleaning Dirt and Rust in the Tracks
If you have dirt or rust in the tracks, follow these steps to fix your sliding doors:
- Remove the sliding doors and set them aside.
- Add two drops of liquid dish soap to a spray bottle, then fill it with equal parts warm water and white vinegar. Swirl the bottle gently to combine.
- Spray the tracks with the cleaning solution and wait five minutes.
- Scrub dirt and rust out of the track with an old toothbrush or a small scrub brush.
- For stubborn dirt and debris, spray on more cleaner and wait another five minutes before scrubbing again.
- Use a microfiber cloth or cotton swabs to remove any remaining dirt, rust, and cleaning solution.
- Spray the wheels with the cleaner, then wipe them clean with a microfiber cloth.
- Check for loose screws and other issues with the doors. Make repairs as necessary.
- Let the track dry completely, then use a shop vac or the hose attachment on your vacuum cleaner to remove any remaining debris.
- Spray a small amount of lubricant on the track to keep the doors rolling smoothly. Use less lubricant than you think you need.
- Re-hang the doors and gently roll them back and forth to spread the lubricant.
Tightening Loose Screws
By far the easiest way to fix a sliding closet door, you only need a set of screwdrivers to tighten loose screws. However, the type and location of the screws depend on the style of the sliding door.
Single-track sliding doors hang in a track attached to your ceiling. There are guides on the floor to keep the doors from swinging. Double-track doors have tracks on the floor and ceiling. The doors slide inside those tracks. Most double-track systems use bi-fold doors that accordion open.
The tracks are screwed into the ceiling or flooring regardless of your door style. The wheel assemblies that usually screwed into the doors themselves. With single-track systems, the guides are also screwed into the floor.
Follow these steps to tighten loose screws:
- Remove the doors and put them aside for now.
- Tighten the screws inside the track first. Check all of the screws on both ceiling and floor tracks.
- For single-track doors, tighten the screws in the floor guides.
- Then tighten the screws that attach the wheels to the doors. Remember to check both top and bottom wheel assemblies for double-track systems.
- Even if loose screws were the problem, you may still want to clean the track before rehanging the doors.
Repairing Broken Wheels or Damaged Doors
Depending on the damage, you can easily repair a broken sliding closet door on your own. You can find replacement wheel assemblies and other parts at most home hardware stores. However, replacing the entire door is the only option in some cases.
The following steps cover most basic door repairs:
- Start by removing the door and inspecting the wheel assemblies. Make sure the wheels roll smoothly and are not cracked. Some models allow you to remove and replace broken wheels. However, you may need to replace the entire wheel mechanism.
- Next, inspect the door for damage, including bends, warps, and creases that can cause them to stick or grind when rolling. You can lightly sand warped wood doors or bend metal ones with a rubber mallet. However, door repairs are not always possible. You may need to replace doors if they are cracked or severely bent.
- Then use a long level to make sure the closet tracks are straight. You can correct minor bends by tightening screws or by gently bending them by hand. However, you will need to replace the track if there are severe bends, warping, or other types of damage.
- If you have floor guides, make sure they are square and level. If they are out of alignment, they will cause the doors to scrape or rub. Loosen the screws, then align them properly before tightening them back down.
- Lastly, rehang the doors and make sure they move smoothly. While not absolutely necessary, consider cleaning the tracks as well.
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