Friday, December 27, 2013


Multi-Point locking mechanisms used on sliding patio doors have been manufactured by Truth, Marvin, Fuhr, Hoppe or a half dozen others.  When the door is fully closed, the thumb turn latches at two, three or more points into or around keepers in the jamb.

Fifty percent of the time, maintenance issues with these high-security style locks can be contributed to the keepers, which may just be out of adjustment or alignment.

With these designs, the thumb turn cannot move the latches until the door is completely closed and a "plunger", protruding from the jam, presses against a "trap door" on the face of the mechanism, which releases the latches to move into place... thus, locking the door.

Or, with some manufacturers, the door handle needs to be held down as the door is closed in order to release the latches... and, then the latches can engage the keepers when the handle is released.

The other half of the time, maintenance issues are the result of bent latches or components internal to the locking mechanism.  This usually happens when someone has tried to adjust the keepers or they gradually moved out of adjustment over the years. When the person closed the door and twisted the thumb turn to move the latches, the latches did not fully catch the keepers.  Then, opening the door without twisting the thumb turn back to return the latches to the open positions, the door was closed again and the keepers hit and bent the mechanism which was still in the closed position.

You can take the entire mechanism apart and play with it for a couple of hours and you might be able to straighten out the bent components.  But, you are better off just buying a whole new mechanism for a few hundred bucks.

Note:  When ordering a new multi-point mechanism, you will need to measure the length, width, offset and possibly several other dimensions.  The right one is not hard to find on the Internet.

Replacement of the entire mechanism can take less than one half hour and adjusting the keepers can take up to another half hour.  Suggestion:  Remove the keepers and then replace individually to adjust them one at a time.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


If you are feeling a draft from under your sliding patio door on those icy winter nights, it is likely that your weatherseal has worn away or been stolen by gremlins.

The solution can be as simple as replacing the weatherseal for less money than it is costing you in heating bills each year.

Here are two images of work that was done to replace old defective rollers and missing weatherseal.



Thursday, December 5, 2013



90% of all sliding patio door handles are designed to only withstand the normal pressure of opening and closing the door when the door itself is in good operating condition.

A loose or broken handle is the first sign that something else is not right.  If you replace the handle without determining the underlying cause, which is usually improving the ease at which your door moves, you will be buying another handle in the near future.

A few of the common handle designs can be found at your local home center and the other hundred styles are available to be ordered.  Rarely are handles found to be obsolete.

Most handles are secured by two or more mounting screws.  The distance between the centers of these screw holes is an important factor in locating the correct part.


Most handles incorporate a latch lever or thumb turn that move the locking latch open and closed.  When the door is rolled to the fully open position, no part of the handle should bump into anything.

A "bumper" (or two) is/are usually installed at the jamb or track to prevent the door from opening so far that the latch lever or handle will hit the frame of the stationary panel.

A latch lever or thumb turn should never require much force to move the latch mechanism.  Don't force it.

Friday, August 30, 2013


A common situation with metal framed sliding doors occurs after a few years when the house has shifted slightly during settling.  It's hard to open.

Metal framed sliding patio doors are designed to open with ease and close snuggly between fiber weatherstrips in the vertical channel on the jamb.  But, if the jamb tilts just 1/16 of an inch, the channel can be cockeyed just enough to "squeeze" the door more tightly than originally designed.

Now, when you unlatch the door and attempt to open it, it takes a real hard tug to release the door from the channel.  This is often too much for the elderly and is often seen in hi-rise condos and 4-season room additions.

There are three different, cost-effective ways this situation can be remedied.

(1)  Using an awl, remove the weatherstrip from one side of the channel.  The weatherstrip on the other side should be good enough to keep out the cold since there is additional pressure being applied to it due to the misalignment of the channel.
(2)  If the vertical channel is securely affixed to the jamb, gently bend the interior channel wall with a "hand-seamer" tool so as to slightly widen the channel from top to bottom.  Do not use pliers.
(3)  If the whole channel moves when trying to bend just the channel wall, then you need to use a heavy duty "spreading tool".  (see video below)

Monday, July 29, 2013


Once the style and color of extruded aluminum framing is selected and precise measurements have been taken, the mitered components are delivered to the job and the screening jig erected for final assembly.
The frame is pressure fit at all four corners.

It is important that all corners be square.

The frame assembly is complete.

Now for the insect screen mesh.

The correct spline diameter is selected.

The mesh is rolled into place.

The spline is pressed into place.

The mesh is neatly trimmed and the handles installed.

Final adjustments are made to the rollers at the bottom.

And, at the top.
Voila!  A new sliding screen door.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


It is not unusual for someone with a big heel to step on the composition molded track of a sliding patio door system and break off a chunk.

Compatible replacement tracks are virtually impossible to find.  But, alas, these tracks can be repaired in less than an hour and be twice as strong as the original.

You will need just a few things... A length of "stainless track cover" cut to the length of the existing track, a 5-Minute epoxy syringe, a tube of steel-filled epoxy putty, several screws, a painter's sanding sponge block and a utility knife.

First, brush and wipe clean the broken area to be repaired.

Then, using screws with a thread diameter no larger than the width of the original track, partially screw them securely, equally spaced, in a line from one side of the break to the other.  The screw heads should be higher than the height of the original track.

Using an angle grinder with a metal cutting wheel, (or some other efficient tool) slice off the heads of the screws slightly below the height of the original track.

Using the steel-filled epoxy putty, begin to fill in the spaces between the screws.  Full hardening time is about fifteen to twenty minutes. (ambient temperature is a factor)

Keep building up the putty into the approximate shape of the original track.  The putty shape should be slightly higher and wider than the original track.

Then, before the putty fully hardens, using a utility knife, carefully trim excess putty.  As the putty gets hard, use the sanding sponge block and shape the repair to closely resemble the original track.

Finally, run the 5-minute epoxy inside the length of the stainless track cover, place it over the entire original track, including the repaired portion, tap into place from one end to the other with a mallet and wood block.  Wait 20 minutes... and, Voila!!

The results are better than the original manufactured product.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


First of all, "sliding doors" don't slide!  And therefore, don't need grease.  They Actually Roll !  Built into the bottom frame of the door, there are two to four wheel assemblies with ball bearings, called "rollers".  There are over 300 different combinations of roller material, designs, sizes and styles for the various sliding doors that have been manufactured over the last fifty years.  The ball bearings in the center of each wheel last longer when lubricated with dry Teflon.  (This dry lubricant will not attract dirt, hair and fur or get gummy with age.)


If the sliding door no longer moves with ease, it's time to just clean the track and replace the rollers.

(It's a shame there are professional appearing people telling you to grease or wax the track and recommending lubricants for the job.)  The photo below is an example of bad information.

Lubricate the entire sliding glass door track

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Maintenance reports verify that repairs to sliding patio doors within some room additions can be the most expensive.
The main reason is that the typical room addition is too often not built to the same standards as the original home and will eventually sag, shift and sink enough to make any sliding door repairs difficult at best.
When bare minimum foundation, footings, framing and support beams are used, (to underbid the competition) the stability of a room addition over the years may not meet the owner's expectations.