Sliding door screens are often the most used doors in the house. On top of that they are often the most poorly constructed doors, so it’s little surprise that these doors tend to break on a regular basis.
What do I mean when I say poorly constructed ? Take for example your front door, its very often solid wood, almost two inches thick. It’s glued together as well as having strong mortise and tenon joinery. Even your sliding patio door is has thick tempered glass, surrounded by a thick aluminum frame that is screwed together. The screen door on the other hand is often only held together at its corners by nothing more than friction and the support provided by the flexible screen mesh. The screen cloth gets looser and the corners get worn until there is no longer any friction holding them together. That’s when your screen door starts giving you problems.
The first thing that happens when a screen door gets loose is that it can no longer hold its rectangular shape. You pull on it and the whole frame distorts and jams itself against the track. How can you tell if the frame is loose. Go outside, and hold the door in place at the bottom with your foot. Grab both sides of the screen door if possible. Try to move it gently left to right without removing your foot. Is it easy to move the top of the door while the bottom stays still? Do the vertical rails feel loose when you move them? If so your sliding door screen is probably worn out and at the end of its useful life.
If the frame passes the test above and is in good condition you should next check the rollers. A sliding screen door generally has two rollers on top and two rollers on the bottom. They are often adjusted up and down by screws located in the top and bottom of the vertical rails. Over time the nylon rollers break and sometimes fall off entirely. Don’t try lubricating the rollers even after they are worn square. You don’t need grease at all. The rollers should turn freely and the door should require no effort to glide left and right. Get the rollers replaced.
You can take the screen door to your local glass shop and have them replace all the corners and the rollers and the screen cloth. But even then, if the frame itself is worn and not so strong, the repair might still not work. Its often better to take the twenty year old screen door and replace it completely with one which has a thicker stronger extruded aluminum frame.