Proper wheel track placement keeps things rolling

Q: In my guest bath, I have a set of sliding doors that sit on the bathtub to keep water in when someone takes a shower. These doors are a nightmare. They no longer slide and, in fact, have seriously gouged the metal track that they sit on. How do I repair them?

A: Most doors on tub enclosures hang from the top rail and slide along its guide track. There are nylon wheels that are supposed to allow it to roll smoothly. In your case it sounds like either the screws that hold the wheels in adjustment have come loose, or the wheels or bearings have corroded or broken.

In either case, this causes the bottom of the door to sit on the bottom track and scratch it each time you move the door. The simplest explanation is that maybe the wheel is off-track. If you place it back onto the track, your problem is solved.

I recall a customer who had a similar problem. When she finally called for help, she had already damaged the bottom track — gone was the shiny appearance. She had metal shavings from where she had to throw her shoulder into the door to get it to move. These were glass doors mind you, and to place them under that much force to move them isn’t wise. She was lucky she didn’t have glass shards all over the place.

You must remove the doors and inspect the wheels to see what needs fixing. Stand inside the tub and lift up on the inside door. The bottom of the doors sit in a guide to keep them from swinging. On some enclosures you can just lift up on the door to clear the guide, and on others you have to unscrew a rail that keeps the bottom of the door attached to the bottom track. The rail will just unscrew from the track.

You will have to finagle the door a bit by tilting the bottom of the door toward you and then lift the wheels free of the top track. Be careful handling the door as it will be a little flimsy, particularly if it is large. Try to keep the door as vertical as possible when handling it to minimize the stress on the glass and frame.

Take a look at the wheels on top of the door. They sit in an angled slot that allows you to adjust the door higher or lower. The lower the wheel is in the slot, the higher the door will ride.

So, if you see that the wheel is at the top of the slot, you simply need to move the wheel somewhere lower in the slot and see if there’s sufficient clearance for the door to roll smoothly. It’s a matter of loosening and tightening the nut that holds the wheel in place.

By the way, there is a wheel at either end of the door, so check both for the proper placement.

I would guess from your description that only one wheel is out of place, which would cause the door to sit at an angle and really dig into the bottom track.

The other possibility is that the rolling wheel needs replacing. Unscrew the wheel and take it with you to match up the part. Home centers carry them, but you may find one at a specialty store.

Installing the new wheel is as simple as unscrewing the nut, pulling off the wheel and screwing on the new one.

Tilt the door to get the wheels mated with the top track and then swing the bottom of the door back into place. If the door doesn’t ride smoothly or isn’t level, remove and adjust the wheels until you’re satisfied.

Michael D. Klimek is a licensed contractor and president of Pro Handyman Corp. Questions may be sent by e-mail to: questions@pro-handyman.com. Or, mail to: P.O. Box 96761, Las Vegas, NV 89193. His Web address is: www.pro-handyman.com.

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