Sliding Glass Door Not Closing Flush

When a standard door has a problem with the hinges, you can still shut the door to keep the weather out while contemplating a fix. Not so with a sliding glass door. Not closing flush usually creates a gap (depending on the severity) that you can’t seal off while you figure out what’s wrong. 

A sliding glass door not closing flush is generally the result of something in the track. Whether that’s debris or the rollers or off or the track is bent, that’s the first place to look. It’s possible the weather stripping is bad, which can cause a host of problems on its own. 

If your sliding glass door won’t properly close, it’s critical to fix it immediately since even the smallest exposure to the outside will put your A/C in overdrive. Who knows? You might get lucky and it’s a beautiful, cool day outside. But, it usually doesn’t happen like that. 

Sliding glass corner doors

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What To Do If Your Sliding Door Isn’t Closing Flush

Make Sure Your Tension Screws are Nice and Tight

Over time, the tension screws that hold your rollers in place (in terms of their up and down movement) may become loose, allowing too much freedom of movement with the rollers. This will cause them to jump the track at some point.

Once they are out of the track, the door will no longer close properly. If you’re lucky, this is the only problem. When you open the sliding glass door, look down toward the bottom of the door. You should see two screws or the plugs that cover them. 

Remove the plugs if necessary and adjust the screws clockwise to tighten the rollers. As soon as you apply a little twist on the screw, you’ll know if loose rollers are the problem. If the screws are really loose, almost as if they’re about to come out, you’ve located the issue. 

Tighten them back up before you open and close the sliding glass door to ensure that the latch lines up with the strike plate and the door shuts securely.

Checking the Track and Rollers

Most people initially want to focus on the bottom track. However, don’t ignore the top track just because issues up there are less common. Obviously, it’s far easier for dirt and debris to fall down on the lower track but it’s always worth checking both when something is wrong. 

Unless you just have bad rollers or the sliding glass door is ancient, you’d be surprised at the minimum amount of debris it takes to gum up the works and mess your rollers up. Fortunately, rollers are adjustable. The thing is, you don’t want to adjust them and call it a day. 

You need to figure out what caused the problem to begin with so it doesn’t become a repetitive process. 

  • Clear the area around the door
  • Lay down towels or a small blanket in front of the door
  • Remove the door and set it on the towel/blanket
  • Inspect the track
  • Inspect the rollers
  • Locate the tension screws

Sliding glass doors are pretty heavy and you don’t want to damage the door or the flooring when you remove it. It’s a good idea to have a towel or an old blanket on standby to set the door on when you remove it. 

Removing a sliding glass door isn’t too difficult. You’ll need a flat or Phillips screwdriver. Look closely at the bottom track and locate the little indent that makes removing it much easier. Open the door to the indent and use your screwdriver to both remove the plugs and adjust the screws to withdraw the rollers.

It’s much easier to do this with a second person. Sometimes you’ll need a large screwdriver to pry the bottom of the door up before you can get a grip on it and remove it from the track.

Check the Weather Strips

Use this opportunity to look at your weather stripping around the frame and around the door.

Make sure there are no breaks in the stripping, cracks, or signs of wear and tear. When weather stripping starts to go, it can break and roll up in the track, forcing the sliding glass door off kilter. Damaged weatherstripping can cause your glass sliding door to leak.

Thoroughly Check and Clean the Track

Your next goal is to clean the track and check it. You want to do this no matter what. Even if you know the track isn’t the problem, it’s always a good idea to clean it and vacuum out any debris because you already have the door off. 

Check Your Rollers

Look your rollers over carefully and loosen the tension screws up so you can freely move the rollers up and down. Be sure they move up and down smoothly and there is no rust on them or dirt clogged inside the roller itself. 

If there is a ton of rust and the rollers don’t move up and down smoothly, you can try to lubricate them but, the odds are, you’ll have to replace them entirely. 

Some sites will advise you to replace the door entirely but if you know it’s the rollers, you can replace them without the added expense of a new sliding patio door

Bottom Line

Sliding glass doors should close smoothly, with the latch from the door lining up with the bar and strike plate. If you’re not getting that or if there is a gap along the edge, something is interfering with the closing process. It usually ends up being the track and/or rollers. 

Once you remove the sliding glass door for the first time, you’ll realize how simple it really is, especially if you have a partner to help you lift it out.

Just remember, preventative maintenance will help you avoid most problems with a sliding glass door. Keep it clean and keep it lubricated. 

If your door is damaged, you can replace your glass sliding door without replacing the frame.