WARNING!!! All installation instructions and demonstrations are intended for professionals trained in this type of work. Mobile Screen and Glass strongly recommends the use of a licensed contractor to perform any of these projects. Ignorance of required safety equipment, as well as safety codes concerning these installations, could result in severe injuries to those persons performing these installations, as well as those operating the repaired product!

Replacing Sliding Door Rollers

Patio Door Roller Replacement

This is another tough job that only the handiest of do-it-yourselfers will want to attempt. Not only are patio doors heavy, but there is also the potential for breaking the tempered safety glass unit in your door, thus turning a $15 repair into a $185 repair, or more! But, for those of you who think you’re up to it, doing your own patio door rollers can turn a $150 repair (our minimum charge to go to your home and replace your rollers), into a $15 dollar repair. Good luck!

Patio Door Roller Replacement – First, remove the screen door. If you’re lucky, you will have a patio door that allows you to remove your inside slider on the patio door to the inside, or outside slider to the outside, without having to remove the fixed panel of your door. If that is the case, you can skip the next few paragraphs and move to the section below that addresses the actual disassembly of your door for roller replacement. But, most doors will require that you remove the fixed panel of the door in order to remove the moving panel. This applies only to aluminum patio doors. Every vinyl patio door that I’ve ever seen allows you to remove the sliding panel to the inside, as the fixed side frame is not removable. Got any friends that could help you out? This is much easier if done with a helper.

Most fixed panels are held in place in the main frame of the door by multiple screws located around the perimeter of the fixed panel on the inside of the door, which screws usually go through a flange of the main frame of the door, and into the panel itself. These screws can be hard to locate, as they are usually painted the same color as the door, and because they will quite often be buried into the weather strip of the door. There are also doors that have clamps that hold the fixed panel into place, usually located either on the side of the fixed panel that buries into the jamb on the dead side of the door, or at the top and bottom of the fixed panel in the center of the door. Sometimes it’s a combination of both! I told you this wasn’t going to be easy. Remove every screw that you can find around the perimeter of the fixed panel, or the clamps. This should free the door for removal, but it might not. Some older Alenco doors, for instance, have a screw located in the bottom center of the door that is underneath the interlock. This is the point in time when most people will decide that maybe they’re not quite handy enough for this job, and give us a call, because, even though you may have gotten every screw out that holds the fixed panel in place, a 20 year build up of dirt and rain will have locked the fixed panel into the main frame and, since there’s nothing that you can grab hold of in order to pull on the door, there’s no way to get it out. We have an advantage in this situation that you probably don’t have, because we carry 8” suction cups that we can affix to the door, and that gives us lots of leverage on the door; an actual handle that we can grab hold of and yank the door toward the middle, thus removing it from the jamb of the door. But, if you’ve gotten the fixed panel loose, now it’s just a matter of lifting the fixed panel up slightly, and that will allow you to swing the bottom of the panel toward the outside, which will allow the panel to drop out of the top channel of the main frame, and it will be free in your hands. Set it aside (somewhere where the wind won’t blow it over), and do the same thing with the sliding panel. You should be able to lift the sliding panel up slightly and swing the bottom of it slightly toward the outside of the door, allowing it to drop out of the channel that it slides in on the top of the door. The moving panel of the door should now be free in your hands, and you can move on to the actual roller replacement.

Actual roller replacement

Actual roller replacement At this point I should remind you that you can bring your door into us for the roller replacement, and that, for most doors this runs about $40. I mention this because, while some roller replacements are relatively easy, there are also some that are extremely difficult to do; star rollers for instance. I see those rollers and I, despite my 26 years in the business, immediately pull the bottom rail off of the door and head for our shop, knowing as I do that our owner (33 years in the business), and our field foremen (31 years in the business), are about the only people left on the planet that know how to replace those rollers, and make them adjust and operate properly. And that, for that matter, is also an option regardless of the type of door. If you don’t have a vehicle capable of transporting the entire door, you can just pull the bottom rail off of the door, and bring that into us to replace the rollers for the same $40. Remember that, with most doors, you’re going to be replacing not just the rollers, but also the housings that the rollers are mounted into. These housings both hold the rollers in place, and allow for adjustment of the rollers.

Bottom Rail

But, to get to that point, you first have to get the bottom rail off of the door. This is a job that requires a combination of brute force and a delicate touch. Most doors have a bottom rail that is held in place by a combination of screws and the compression created by the vinyl wrap on the glass. To remove the bottom rail is usually a matter of removing the screws, usually one on either side of the bottom of the door, then use a mallet to tap the bottom rail off of the glass. Sometimes there will be two screws on each side, one holding the bottom rail on, and the other being the roller adjustment screw. Make sure that you are loosening the screws that hold the bottom rail on, and not the adjustment screw. The heads of these screws may set on the surface of the side rail of the door, or they may be inside the side rail of the door, accessible through a hole in the side rail of the door. Once those screws are removed the only thing holding the bottom rail on the glass will be that compression wrap that I mentioned. Now take a mallet, either rubber or leather (not metal!), and tap on the bottom rail in a downward direction (relative to the door). Move your mallet strikes back and forth across the rail, causing it to separate from the glass in equal increments across the rail. Eventually it will fall off of the bottom of the glass.

Once the bottom rail has been removed, you should be able to slide the roller assemblies out the end of the rail UNLESS there are additional screws holding the roller assemblies in the bottom rail. If you do have these screws, they will be visible in the channel where the glass sits. Usually it’s just a matter of removing those screws, and then sliding the rollers (and housings) out the end of the rail. Hang on to those screws, as the new rollers will not come with them.
Once you have the new roller assemblies installed in the bottom rail, reassembly of the door occurs in exact reverse order of removal, but REMEMBER that before you put the bottom rail back on the door, you must first place the compression wrap back on the glass before you tap the bottom rail back on the glass. Do this gently and evenly, as this is another point in the process where it’s easy to break the glass.

When you go to reinstall the fixed panel of the door, make sure that the final location of the fixed panel is exactly where it was before you started. All screw holes should match up exactly. If you don’t make sure of this, you could have a situation where the interlocks in the center of the door don’t interlock properly, and the door will not fully close.
Once you have the entire door reassembled some adjustment of the rollers may be necessary, both to square the door to the jamb, and to make the door match up to the lock strike assembly. Most lock strikes are also adjustable. You want the rollers to be adjusted to a point where the door is as low as possible without t he door dragging on the threshold. This will minimize air flow under the door.

Roller Adjustment Screws

To cause the roller to raise the door up, you will want to turn the adjustment screw in a clockwise direction. This is much easier to do if you will first take a pry bar and use it to lift the door up slightly, thus taking the weight of the door off of the roller. To cause the roller to lower the door, turn the adjustment screw in a counter-clockwise direction.
Once all that is done, check to make sure that the door rolls freely, closes fully, and that the lock engages properly.