Does it take two hands to slide open your patio door? Use these simple maintenance tips to turn your sliding door back into a smooth operator. Dirt, pet hair and debris on the track can keep your door from opening the way it should. This stuff clogs the rollers on the bottom of the door and keeps them from sliding easily. It only takes about an hour to get your sliding door back in good working order. You can find replacement parts for most doors at home improvement stores.

Before you begin, enlist someone to help you since sliding doors can be very heavy and hard to move around. Be sure to take down any shades or drapes that may get in the way as you work on the door. Lay a drop cloth over a large table and add some padding where the glass of your sliding door will rest. First, remove the plugs covering the roller adjustment screws on the bottom of your sliding door’s frame. If you can’t find them, try checking the edges of the door.

Use a screwdriver to turn the screw counterclockwise, until it stops. This will cause the rollers to retract and lowers the door. Then slide the door all the way open and take out the head stop by removing the screws. Be careful to keep the door from falling once you remove the stop. Lean the sliding door toward you as you lift it off the bottom track. Carefully place the panel on a table with padding to protect the glass.

Find the rollers in the bottom of the door. Friction and the door’s weight usually hold the rollers in place. Use a regular screw driver to remove the rollers from the door.  New roller units cost about $10 each. Replace any that are bent or broken. 

If your door's rollers are still in good condition, scrape dirt from the rollers and clean using denatured alcohol. Silicone spray resists dirt, so use it to lubricate the wheels. Then reinstall them by lining up the roller’s adjustment screw with the hole and tap in using a hammer and wooden block so you don't damage the wheel. Retract the wheels as far as possible, once in place.

Wipe the head track and the head stop you removed with alcohol and lubricate with silicone spray. Use a vacuum to get rid of any debris in the bottom track before cleaning with alcohol. It’s important to lubricate the bottom track well. In addition to coating with silicone spray, rub the track with a paraffin wax block.

Replace the weather-stripping where the sliding door panels meet in the middle. weather-stripping in this area is usually held in place with staples. Loosen these and then pull the weather-stripping off the door. Remove any leftover staples using pliers. On the other side of the door, glue holds the weather-stripping in place. Remove damaged weather-stripping and any sticky residue using a putty knife. Apply new weather-stripping to the center of the door according to the package directions. Use plastic adhesive to apply the weather-stripping to the door jamb.

Place the door on the bottom track and tilt. Hold the door in place using your body when reattaching the head stop. Once in place, slide the door until it is half an inch away from the door jamb. Turn the roller adjustment screws clockwise until the door is parallel with the jamb. Check the door latch. If it’s not meeting the door jamb to latch correctly, adjust the receiver plate using the screws until it latches securely.

With your sliding door working great, how about making it look great too? No one likes washing windows, but everyone can appreciate the beautiful, clear view you get when looking through one that’s so clean it sparkles. Too much rubbing moves dirt around but doesn’t really get your windows clean. It also creates a build up of static to attract more dust and dirt. Try these foolproof tricks to make the job a little bit easier.

A squeegee offers the best way to get the cleanest windows. Find one with a cloth or sponge applicator on side to use for getting your windows cleaner. Skip all those fancy window cleaners. Just add a small amount of dish soap to a bucket of warm water. This makes the perfect window cleaning solution, without too many soap bubbles.

After soaping a section of the window, use the squeegee to remove the soapy water, beginning at the top, left side of the window. After each stroke, wipe the squeegee blade using a lint-free cloth. Use a damp chamois cloth touch up any areas without leaving streaks.

Don't forget about your sliding screen door. You can get it in peak working order too. The easiest way to remove a screen door is by shifting it to the middle of door frame, then lift the bottom part off the track first. Some rolling screen doors need to be cleaned and lubricated in place since they can’t be removed. Now just follow the same procedures as you did for cleaning and lubricating your sliding glass door. Don’t forget to check the top rollers or springs. You should clean and lubricate those as well.

Screens have a special plastic track mounted at the top of the door frame. You can secure the track with plastic adhesive every few inches if you find any loose spots.

Plan to replace a screen door with a bent frame. You’ll get the best fit if you buy a replacement screen door made by the manufacturer of your sliding glass door. When replacing your sliding screen door, be sure to place it in the bottom track first.

Make life a little easier by taking these simple steps to get your sliding patio door and screen working great. You probably use your sliding door often and a little maintenance can help avoid a lot of frustration and irritation every time you need to open it. Maintaining your door offers an easy way to save money on energy costs and help your door last longer. And with sparkling clean windows, you'll instantly improve your view.