How To Fix a Sliding Closet Door in 7 Steps (with Pictures)
Sliding closet doors are an easy and affordable way to save space in any room. For these reasons, they are widespread in most homes. While sliding closet doors are very useful, they also have the annoying habit of breaking. Nearly everyone who has a sliding closet door in their home will, at some point, encounter a frustrating issue where the doors won’t slide.
Luckily, these doors are as simple as they are common. In most cases, fixing a closet door is easy and can be done by almost anyone with few tools and no skills.
Here is how to diagnose and fix a sliding closet door. Let’s get to it!
Preparing to fix a sliding closet door is simple. First, make sure that there is nothing obstructing the door. You would be surprised how many times something has simply fallen behind the door in a spot that you didn’t see right away. Second, make sure that the door you are trying to fix is a sliding closet door or bifold door, not a pocket door. Pocket doors slide into the wall while sliding doors do not. This is not an article that will help fix issues with a pocket door.
The first few steps in this article will only take an hour or less and will likely cost nothing. If you have to go through and fix or replace the entire unit, the cost could be as high as $200 but no more.
You do not need many items to try and fix a sliding closet door. The things you will need include the following.
- Light source (phone flashlight should be fine)
Items you may need but might not need right off the bat include the following.
- New door track
- Tape measure
- New door slab
- Replacement hardware
Is The Door Off The Track?
The first and most common fix is to simply check to make sure the door is on the track. Even if a door appears to be snuggly in the track, that is not always the case. Try to get behind the closet door and look up with a light to make sure that the door’s wheels are properly inside the track. It only takes a slight bump or misalignment to remove the door from the track. It might not always be hanging or sagging or dragging.
Oftentimes, a door has simply been bumped off the track. If that is the case, simply lift the door straight up and slowly adjust the position until the wheels fall back into the track. You will feel the door settle back into place. Test the door. If it was off the track, it should slide freely once more.
How To Fix a Sliding Closet Door (7 Steps)
1. Check the wheels
If the door is on the track and it still will not slide properly, you need to check the wheels. Most closet doors have wheels and the track at the top, but sometimes they are on the bottom. You can easily lift the door, the same way you did earlier, and lower it off the track. This will reveal the rolling hardware.
Inspect the rolling hardware for damage. Sometimes the wheels have become chewed up, or they are bent or cracked. If the wheels are simply bent, you can try to bend them back into place by hand. If the wheels are damaged, they might need to be replaced. If that is the case, you can buy a replacement kit from your local hardware store. Usually, it only requires a few screws to replace the rolling hardware on the door.
2. Check the track
If the wheels look okay, it is time to check the track. The track can become blocked with dirt, debris, or wear. With the doors off, use your light to examine the length of the track. Check for damage or grime. A damaged track could be cracked, bent, or warped. Any of these issues can hinder a door from sliding freely.
3. Clean the track
Next, it is a good time to clean the track. With the doors off there is no reason not to give the channel a good cleaning. Use a rag to wipe out the entire length of the track. Then, use a vacuum to vacuum out the track. A standard vacuum with a handheld attachment should be powerful enough. A shop vac will also work well in this situation.
A clean track can fix an improperly sliding door in as little as 30 minutes.
4. Replace track if needed
If the track is damaged, it will need to be replaced. Don’t worry; it isn’t too difficult. Measure the length of the current track and make a note of it. Then purchase a new track online or from your local hardware store. Remove the old track by taking out the screws and detaching the track from the door frame. When you have the new track, simply put it into the existing space and screw in the new one. If the measurement is correct, the track should fit perfectly.
5. Realign the doors
With the new track in place, you can easily realign the doors. Sometimes the doors get off-kilter or have swapped tracks, so they are bumping into one another. You can also realign the doors without replacing the track. Simply take the doors off and then put them back on, one at a time, taking care to ensure that each door is on its own individual track.
With a clean or new track and healthy hardware, a realignment should be easy and effective.
6. Check the doors for warps or damage
If none of those solutions have fixed the problem, there might be an issue with the door slabs themselves. Doors can warp over time, especially if they ever encounter any water or strong moisture. Lay the doors down flat and look for waves or bends. Check the top and sides. If you see any waves or warps, the doors themselves might be causing the issue.
You can easily purchase new slabs. Closet door slabs do not need any special machining or prep and can often be purchased off the shelf at a home improvement store. Be sure to measure both the height and the width. In a vast number of cases, the door will be a standard size.
Once you have purchased the new slabs, be sure to also get the closet door hardware kit as well. Replacing the doors is as simple as screwing the new hardware to the un-prepped slabs and hanging them on the track again.
7. Lubricate the tracks
Lastly, you can lubricate the tracks to ensure a smooth glide. Be sure the tracks are clean before trying to lubricate them, or the lubricant will simply collect dirt and gum it up even further. WD-40 is a simple way to lube the tracks. Just spray some WD-40 into the length of the track and let dry. The doors, new or not, should now slide much more smoothly.
There you have it. These methods should be able to fix nearly every issue one experiences with a problem closet door. If, for some reason, these methods did not work, you might need to consult with a contractor. Other reasons for a broken closet door could include serious problems like a sagging foundation or damage to the home’s frame. These issues are hard to diagnose on your own but could cause the entire frame to be out of place, which will then cause the doors to have problems.
These seven steps will fix almost any broken closet door in nearly every case.
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Featured Image Credit: Slavun, Shutterstock