Temperamental bi-fold doors not that hard to get back on track

Q: During a particularly fierce game of hide-and-seek, one of my kids decided to hide behind the bi-fold doors in the laundry room. Well, you can guess what happened next. The seeker knew he was there, and threw the doors open to surprise him. Now, the doors are no longer on track. How can I make them work again?

A: God bless the children. They break stuff, you pay for it, and I profit from it. Heck, I wish everyone had children. Maybe you need to set some ground rules for games in the house. You could try some of the rules that work well in my house: no throwing balls indoors (unless I’m doing the throwing), no running indoors (unless I’m being chased), and never open the bi-fold doors unless under the direct supervision of an adult.

Bi-fold doors are good because they don’t take up as much space as swinging doors, but boy, can they be temperamental. They are hinged in the middle to allow them to fold open rather than swing open. The problem is that on each set of doors, only three of the four corners are secured by hardware, and although the door must roll along a track, you have to pull outward on the door to get it rolling. This creates stress on the rolling guide, and leaves the bottom inside corner of each door vulnerable to abuse and consequently getting out of alignment.

On the bottoms of the doors is a pin that fits into a floor bracket, which is mounted to the side jamb of the opening. You use this pin to raise or lower the height of the door. If it drags on the carpet, turn the nut on this pin counterclockwise to raise the door, and clockwise to lower it. The tops of the doors have a fixed pin on the outside edge, and a guide roller on the inside edge. Both of these rest in a track that extends across the top of the opening.

The top pin and the guide roller have springs that allow them to be pushed down so you can re-install the door. To do this, set the bottom pin in the hole of the floor bracket. Swing the door up and, as you approach the top track, push the top inside pin down until it clears the top sliding bracket, which slides to help get the door plumb again.

Once the door is anchored by the pins, push the roller guide down and insert it in the top track. The door should now slide open and closed, however, it’s unlikely that it will do so smoothly, particularly after being knocked around.

If you notice a gap between the two doors when they’re closed, adjust the floor bracket by loosening the sliding bracket and moving it slightly away from the jamb. Then, move the sliding bracket on the top rail an equal distance. Continue adjusting both doors until they no longer bind and the gap is closed.

Replacement hardware for these doors costs around $10 at home centers.

Mike Klimek is a licensed contractor and president of Pro Handyman Corp. Questions may be sent by email 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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