Sliding glass doors are great, but the locks often leave a lot to be desired.
In many cases, they are very easy to force open.
That is why we usually recommend swapping out the standard lock for something more secure.
But even the best and most secure sliding glass door lock can stop working properly.
When that happens, follow the sliding glass door lock troubleshooting steps below, in the exact order.
Checking for each potential cause in the correct order can save you a lot of time.
Table of Contents
- 1 Sliding Glass Door Lock Troubleshooting
- 1.1 Cleaning A Rusty Or Corroded Lock
- 1.2 Fixing A Door That Doesn’t Close Properly
- 1.3 Fixing Alignment Problems
- 1.4 Replacing A Broken Lock
- 2 Troubleshooting Sliding Glass Door Locks: Final Thoughts
Sliding Glass Door Lock Troubleshooting
Again, work your way through this list from the top to the bottom. Checking for these issues out of order could waste a lot of time.
You might spend a long time checking for a more difficult problem, when the solution was actually something much simpler, that you should have checked for first.
Cleaning A Rusty Or Corroded Lock
A rusty or corroded lock can get stuck and become challenging to operate. If there are signs of rust on the lock, chances are that you will have to clean other areas of the door as well.
- Scrub brush
- White vinegar
Use the scrub brush to remove debris from the tracks and to clean other areas that look dirty. Use the toothbrush to remove grime and debris from the lock itself.
Mix a solution of one part warm water and one part white vinegar. White vinegar will remove rust without damaging your sliding door. Use the scrub brush or toothbrush to remove rust and corrosion after applying the vinegar mixture.
Rinse the lock and other areas you cleaned with water and let these areas dry. Apply some lubricant to the tracks and rollers. You can also lubricate the lever if the lock tends to get stuck.
Fixing A Door That Doesn’t Close Properly
The next step in sliding glass door lock troubleshooting is to make sure the door can slide all the way shut. You might not be able to get the lock to connect and close because of worn out or damaged tracks.
If the problem persists after cleaning the tracks and lubricating the rollers, you should try adjusting the rollers.
- Wire brush
- Vacuum cleaner
- Optional: new rollers
Use the wire brush to clean the tracks. The toothbrush will help you clean every nook and cranny where dirt and dust can build up and make the door difficult to slide shut.
Use the vacuum cleaner to suck up all the debris that came loose.
Your sliding glass door has a roller adjustment screw that changes the height of the wheels. You will typically find one screw at the bottom and one at the top of the door.
Look for the screw covers on the side of the door and remove them.
Tighten or loosen the roller adjustment screws. You might need to try both options to see what makes the door close more easily.
Step Five (Optional)
If the rollers look worn out or damaged, it’s time to install new wheels. You will have to take the door off its frame, use the screwdriver to remove the old wheels, and install the new ones. You can also clean the old rollers more thoroughly once you take the sliding door out of its frame.
Fixing Alignment Problems
A door with an alignment problem will become difficult to close and might not lock properly. If you already cleaned the tracks, you should try correcting their alignment next.
- Wire brush
- Vacuum cleaner
- Cleaning cloth
- Optional: new door frame
- Optional: shims and utility knife
Inspect the inner part of your sliding door frame. You will find screws that secure the door into the frame. Remove them.
Lift the door carefully to remove the rollers from the bottom track.
Pull the door toward you to remove it from the frame. Set it aside carefully.
Inspect the tracks and the frame and look for signs of damage.
You can typically fix a bent frame by applying pressure with your hands. The material should be flexible enough to regain its original shape. If the door frame shows signs of damage, it might be best to replace it.
Use the wire brush and vacuum cleaner to clean the tracks thoroughly. If they look bent, cover them with a cleaning cloth to protect them, and use the clamp to straighten them.
Tilt the door and insert it into the bottom track first. You can use shims to secure it into the bottom track and get a better fit.
Slide the door into the top track and use a utility knife to cut the excess material from the shims if you use any.
Replacing A Broken Lock
If you have completed the previous troubleshooting steps and the problem persists, your best option is to install a new lock or maybe a keyless entry system.
You need to determine the type of lock you have so you can purchase a new one that will match:
- A surface-mount lock will have screws that secure it to the face of the sliding door frame. Finding a match should be easy, but make sure the handle design and size won’t prevent the door from closing.
- Mortise locks include an internal component that you insert inside the door frame. If you have a mortise lock, pay attention to the width of the lock, the size of the screw holes, and the size of the faceplate, to find a suitable replacement.
- Inset locks are fairly easy to replace. These locks use two elements that you install inside of a cutout on each side of the frame and connect with screws.
- Needle-nose plier
- New lock
Start by removing the old lock. If you have a surface-mount lock or inset lock, you should be able to remove screws that secure the lock to the face of the door frame, and the entire lock will come off.
If you have a mortise lock, loosen the screws on the face of the door frame to remove the handle. Pull the lever out and insert an ink pen through the lowest screw hole to prevent the lock from falling into the frame.
Slide the door open and look for additional screws to remove on the inner portion of the door. Remove these screws, and you should be able to pull the lock’s internal components out of the door with the needle nose pliers.
If you’re installing a new surface-mount or inset lock, you should only have to screw the new lock to the side of the frame.
If you’re installing a mortise lock, use an ink pen to block the lowest screw hole and prevent the new lock from falling into the frame. Insert the lock into the frame, connect the lever to the side, and secure the lock with screws. You can finish the installation process by securing the handle to the side of the frame.
Troubleshooting Sliding Glass Door Locks: Final Thoughts
If your sliding glass door lock has stopped functioning correctly, diagnosing the problem should not be too difficult. Simply follow the troubleshooting steps above and you should have your sliding door locking shut again, as if it were brand new.
If you are unable to get it to work or if you encounter any other problems, please feel free to leave a comment below.
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Shammy Peterson says
You got my attention when you said that it will be challenging to operate sliding doors that have rusty or corroded locks because they can get stuck. The sliding doors that we have at home need so much attention because their locks are not only rusty but also damaged. They also feel so heavy to open and close. I will be sure to find a hardware store where I can shop for accessories and supplies for sliding doors. Thanks!