Repair is a fascinating world, from fixing up an old car to getting a nice watch functioning again. Repair work is pursued by professionals and laymen alike, with each developing their own approach and style of executing repairs. Do it yourself (or DIY) repair has become all the rage ever since the advent of Youtube, with a seemingly infinite number of videos revolving around fixing things yourself as well as offering advice on doing it cheap. However, there is more to that notion than meets the eye.
Professionals have been around for hundreds of thousands of years, and for good reason. These people devote their entire lives to the pursuit of becoming masters of their craft, and pride themselves on delivering work of the highest quality. They not only learn their craft well, but often also develop business plans and models that enable them to deliver quality work on a consistent basis. DIY Repair, on the other hand, is usually attempted by people who do not have the experience a professional does. While there are plenty of examples of good situations that can easily be remedied through doing it yourself, there are an equal number of situations that should be handled by a qualified expert instead of attempting it oneself.
Sliding Doors are a prime example of this. They are easy to slide thus people often think they are easy to fix. This could not be further from the truth; there are many subtle aspects to sliding doors that can go unnoticed. It is important to remember that while sturdy, sliding doors are still fragile in nature. All too often, the glass of one gets broken out of sheer frustration because it has become difficult to slide. Handles also get broken this way regularly, along with the rollers that allow the door to slide. These and many other misconceptions exist about how easy sliding door repair really is.
One of the more common “stories” you will hear is how someone fixed their sliding doors by applying WD-40 on the track or wheels. Each and every time the door will slide better for a time. Then it stops and the door is just as hard, if not harder, to slide, but why does this occur?
The first thing to note is that WD-40 is not a lubricant – its a blend of lubricants whose recipe remains secret to this day- and was originally conceived to prevent rusting in rockets. This makes its primary uses as rust cleaning/prevention as well as a degreasing solvent. However, for some time the workers would sneak it home and it gained prominence as a useful household agent. So much so, that they packaged it for sale on the shelves for anyone to buy, and since its status has only grown.
There are a good number of unusual uses for WD-40 including: removing crayon from walls, protecting bike chains, cleaning stainless steel, waterproofing gloves, etc. One of its most common uses, as a tool for loosening screws or bolts, is the culprit for the myth that WD-40 works as a remedy for sliding door issues.
While WD-40 is useful for loosening things, this does not make it a lubricant. In these cases, most often something is rusted shut and this is why WD-40 is used. When used on something like the rollers of a sliding glass door, it is a very temporary fix that in the long run only makes the issue worse. This is due to the fact that WD-40 isn’t actually a lubricant, it displaces water and oil. So what happens is that any lubrication that was there will get removed; this will make them more susceptible to become sticky and the WD-40 itself will further gum it up. Thus, while using WD-40 is tempting as a cheap and easy fix for your sliding door, the best course of action is to call in a professional to effect sliding door repair.
Attempting to remove a sliding glass door yourself is very tempting; it appears like a simple task that anyone could do and will save time as well as money. This is the furthest from the truth unfortunately, as any number of issues can arise that can severely impact the sliding door or the system itself.
The most obvious incident that can occur is the glass itself breaking. Even being extremely careful, it only takes a slight slip or gust of wind to lose control of a door and drop it. Shattered glass is not only expensive to replace, but many times the only option left is replacing the entire door itself (which is far more costly.) On top of that is the length of time it can take to either get the glass replaced or a new door installed as well, leaving you in the lurch with a broken and potentially unusable door until it gets replaced.
Another common issue encountered by sliding door technicians is house settling. When this happens, it can be incredibly difficult to remove the door as there is no longer any room to lift the door out of the frame. There is no single way to approach this issue and this is where know-how and expertise come into play, and further highlights the difficulty in attempting to remove a door on your own.
Past all of this, knowing the intricacies of a sliding door and how to remedy all the myriad situations is an incredibly in-depth process that only an expert would know. Remember, these types of doors are sturdy yet also delicate in nature, and thus it is imperative to know how to handle them correctly to fix them and not damage them further. Due to the potential risks of trying to diagnose what is wrong with a door yourself, the best move is to call in a professional well versed in sliding door repair.
Installing parts yourself
Even if you can get the door off and look at everything yourself, there is still the issue of all the different parts that exist for sliding doors. Rollers, handles, and tracks are all similar in construction but designed for different types of doors. Not all parts are a universal fit, and knowing what is appropriate for a given door is a daunting task.
When it comes to rollers, they come in an assortment of sizes and can be constructed of different materials. Those made cheaply with low quality materials might work for a short time, but in almost all cases they will wear out fast and may even cause damage to the door or track itself. Getting the right size of a roller is incredibly important, as the wrong size can again damage the other parts or even prevent the door from sliding as smooth as it should.
Handles are in the same realm; there are countless types of handles made for a wide variety of doors. While it is possible to install a handle in creative ways, this is not ideal. Not only can it make the door look janky and ugly, but it can eventually cause issues with locking the door or being able to slide it correctly as well. One instance seen commonly is people taking apart a handle to fix it themselves, only for it to fall apart or be impossible to put back together. Knowing how a handle works and how it interacts with the internal locking mechanism along with the frame of the sliding door is imperative. If any of these things are off, it can make the door hard to use and just lead to more frustration.
Plus, it’s easy to mistake the different issues of a sliding door. For example, bad rollers can end up causing the handle to go bad; however, without the requisite knowledge one might repetitively fix or replace the handle when that is not the source of the issue. Another scenario encountered frequently is door alignment issues that prevent the lock from catching but often this gets mistaken as an issue with the lock rather than the door itself. This only begins to scratch the tip of the iceberg, exactly why leaving sliding door repair to the experts is the best course of action.
DIY Repair is thus a complex world with a myriad of factors influencing it. The common misconception is that everything can be fixed this way. Many things can be and it’s always a good thing to pursue knowledge and learning new things. But without extensive knowledge and experience, it’s a gamble that a solution can be found. In addition, just because a fix has worked doesn’t mean it always will or that you can extrapolate how to fix something similarly.
This is especially true in complicated systems, such as sliding doors. There are different interlocking aspects to such systems, and each part needs to function correctly to ensure peak operation. Just like with cars, it’s always possible that fixing one thing will reveal other underlying issues and lead to a different set of problems. This is why it’s imperative to call in a sliding door repair expert to fully diagnose the problem, as they will be best equipped to handle any and all issues that may arise during the repair process.