How to Fix a Sliding Screen Door That's Sticking

Bottom of a sliding door.

If you have a screen door that sticks, you’ll likely leave it open more often to avoid the problem. However, doing so creates an open invitation for pests to enter your home, which can lead to bigger problems. So, a sticky screen door is more than just an inconvenience.

Over time and with regular use, parts and materials break or wear down, leading to a shorter lifespan for your screen door. The experts at your local Mr. Handyman® have a few tips on repairing a sliding screen door that will get it back on track so you can continue to enjoy the nice weather.

Before starting your repairs, check all the components on your sliding screen door. If you find worn wheels, a warped frame, and other issues, investing in a new door might be the better option. Instead of spending money on a screen door that is on its last leg, have a new door installed.

If the only issue with your sliding screen door is it’s sticking, read on!

How to Fix a Screen Door That Won't Slide

If your screen door isn't sliding, follow these step-by-step instructions from our pros to get it working again:

1. Clean up the track: A dirty track is one of the most common issues with sliding doors. Dust, pet hair, and other debris can create buildup that slows down and hinders your door's sliding motion. Vacuum this area using the crevice tool and scrub gently with a stiff brush to remove any caked-on material. Wipe the track clean with a damp cloth and let it dry before sliding the door.

Inspect your newly-clean sliding track and ensure the track is still straight. If the channel is bent, getting your track back in line can be a simple fix. Use pliers to bend it (or a wood block) and a hammer to straighten larger sections of the track that are bent.

2. Straighten the frame: The metal frame around a screen door is typically made from a lightweight material like aluminum that can bend or warp. You must remove the sliding door from the track to check it. Grip both sides of the door and lift up gently to engage the spring assembly. When the wheels clear the track, pull the door out and downward to free it from the frame.

Lay the door on a flat surface and check if any corners are lifted. If the door doesn't lay flat, gently bend the frame in the opposite direction. If you can't bend it back in shape, you can lay something heavy on the corners overnight to see if this fixes the problem.

3. Adjust the tension: Adjustment screws for the wheels on the top or bottom of the door release or create tension to raise or lower the door. Turn the screw clockwise half a turn to raise the door or counterclockwise to lower it, test the door, and see if it resolves the problem. There should be an equal gap at the top and bottom of the door, so you may have to repeat the process a few times to get it just right.

4. Replace the wheels or spring: You must remove the door using the abovementioned method to replace broken wheels or the tension spring. To replace wheels, carefully remove them from the top and bottom of the door and note any worn or missing parts that need replacing. Take the wheels to your local home improvement store for replacements.

If you have a workable replacement part for the spring-load version, you may be able to carefully drill the rivets out and then rivet in a replacement. Clean out the tracks, insert the replacement parts, and reinstall the screen door. This process is more involved and requires specific tools, which may not be worth your time and effort.

After completing these steps, check your handy work to ensure the sliding screen door isn't sticking and slides smoothly back and forth. If you still encounter problems, it may be time to call in a service professional. If your repairs fix the issues, regular maintenance will keep your door in good working order. To prevent your sliding screen door from sticking, clean the sliding door track monthly and inspect the mechanisms yearly for wear. If you need help with repairs or maintenance, your local Mr. Handyman® is ready to assist you.

How to Fix a Swinging Screen Door

A screen door that won't close all the way allows insects, dust, and debris to get into your home easily. If your screen door won't close, sticks, or isn't swinging smoothly, these tips should help fix the problem:

1. Locate the problem: Determine exactly where the door is sticking before deciding on a remedy. Screen doors can get out of the square as a home settles or wood swells, but sometimes it’s simply due to loose hinges. If the edge of the door hits the frame, tighten the screws on the top, middle, and bottom hinge on the frame and door. Make sure you don’t over-tighten and strip the screws. If your screen door still won't close properly or sticks, the next step is to get your door square again.

2. Remove excess material: Remove the door from its hinges and use a wood plane to shave off thin layers of wood from the problem area. Since this process is irreversible, be careful not to remove too much material from the door. Proceed cautiously with this step. If you remove too much wood from the sides, you may need to replace the entire door. Removing too much material from the bottom is a little easier to fix, as you can add a door sweep to cover any gap. As with some previous tips, this fix is a little more involved and requires the right tools and expertise. Therefore, calling in a pro might be a better option.

3. Check the pneumatic closer: The pneumatic closer prevents the door from slamming shut and ensures it closes completely. The component that locks the door in an open position can wear out and cause these issues, but it's easy to replace. If the problem isn't the locking piece, adjust the setting on the door closer.

Most pneumatic closers have an adjustment screw at the closed end of the cylinder. Start by turning the screw about a quarter of a turn clockwise and check the results. You may have to turn the screw left or right to get a smooth closing speed.

There you have it. Now you know how to fix a sliding screen door that sticks and a faulty swinging door that won't close properly.

Count on Mr. Handyman for Trusted Home Repair Service

Depending on the issues with your screen door, the fix can be something relatively simple or a little more involved. If you don’t have the time, tools, or expertise to DIY it yourself, Mr. Handyman can help. Whether you need a sliding screen door installed or repairs for a faulty door closer, your local Mr. Handyman is just a call away. Our installation and repair teams can handle all your home maintenance needs and all our work is backed by the Neighborly Done Right Promise. Call today for service or contact us online.