Why are they called sliding doors, when in fact, they actually roll?
Some quick google-ing led to a site that claims sliding doors have been around since about the 1st century. There’s even a picture from Pompeii to prove it. (At least that bottom track has held up over time.) Now I can’t vouch for the veracity of that article, nor do I completely trust the source – but the point of this post isn’t about semantics or even the history of sliding doors, but to bring attention to the fact that a vast majority of ‘sliding’ doors actually roll. That is, bypass doors (as they are also known) have rollers that either sit or hang on a track, and roll along a bead, channel, or groove to open and close them.
While it’s possible that there might be a slight improvement after a good spraydown, enjoy that momentary relief because there’s some deeper repairs coming.
So why is this important? Because knowing or learning about how something works is a good start to effectively troubleshoot or maintain that item. So being aware that my glass patio door sits on a set of wheels that are supposed to roll along a bead – helps stop the urge to spray a can of lubricant or pour an ounce of cooking oil* onto the bottom track to help it glide smoother. This is the natural and intuitive thing to do, especially when operating the door feels like dragging a washing machine across the opening. But please – put the can down. Don’t do it. While it’s possible that there might be a slight improvement after a good spraydown, enjoy that momentary relief because there’s some deeper repairs coming. In general, lubrication does more damage than provide benefits for your sliding door. Many products like WD40 that are used for lubrication are actually degreasers, and good ones too! But the ball bearings that allow your rollers to roll need to keep that grease packed into the wheel.
There are different factors that will cause a sliding door assembly to fail and be in need of repair. Knowing what doesn’t work helps with the elimination process when searching for the best repair solution. Once you’ve correctly diagnosed the problem, and determined the needed repairs, you’re faced with a few more questions:
Can I make the repairs on my own? Just because I can, does it mean I should? Do I have what it takes?
We’ll have to address these questions next time.
*This actually happened. A customer was told by someone to use cooking oil to lubricate her bottom track. She did.