Troubleshooting Problems With A Sliding Shower Door

Stuck shower doors can be aggravating, but with these few tips, a homeowner can investigate and usually correct most issues.

Many people prefer the convenience of sliding shower doors to the old shower curtain. They are easier to clean, keep the bathroom looking neater, and are easy to maintain. While installing shower doors may take longer than putting up a shower curtain, the payoff in maintenance is great.

If a shower door starts sliding more slowly, or seems stuck, there are several ways to check the problem. Since most sliding shower doors hang from a track, the most obvious place to start is the track from which it hangs. Look up into the track and use a toothbrush to check for obstructions. If anything is found, it is usually a broken roller, which can easily be replaced by removing the door and broken roller and installing a new roller.

The next place to check is the bottom-stabilizing track. Sometimes, the caulking of the tub surround was not correctly cut out to allow for water drainage from the track. If this is the case, simply trim the caulking with an X-Acto knife or carpet trimmer and it should stop this issue. However, if it has been clogged for some time, there may be debris such as soap, soap buildup, or actual mold in that track. Again, take a toothbrush and clean the bottom track.

Suppose both the top and bottom tracks have been checked and the door is still not sliding properly? Remove the two doors by lifting them up and off their track. There could be something in the track that cannot be seen with the doors installed. It might be a clump of tissue, or a tiny speck of glass, plastic, or even a rock that got stuck up inside the track and is causing abrasion or stoppage of the rolling motion.

Now that the doors have been removed, the top and bottom tracks have been examined, the debris cleared away, and the caulking checked, all systems should be go. If there is a remaining sliding issue, it may be that the house has shifted and the frame is no longer "square", if this is the case, it may be time for some heavier investigating. Get a level and see if the track is still perpendicular to the tub enclosure. If it is not, the homeowner can remove the entire shower door track and either re-caulk and replace the existing system, or purchase a new one. However, if the frame is not level, the house probably did shift, or at least the floor has shifted. If the floor has shifted, then that is a carpentry issue, but if the track seems level, and the floor seems level, then it is probably time to call in a professional, or consider the old stand-by, a shower curtain and rod.

For hinged shower doors, there are other troubleshooting tips to be tried. There may be rust to consider, there may be leveling issues with the floor or shower pan, and there may be age issues to consider.

If there is rust accumulation on any part of the hinge, WD-40 or Lime-Away are good products to use as a first attempt to reduce sticking. It may be necessary to use a small price of sandpaper to sand away the build-up if it is heavy.

If the door is sticking at the handle, check the closure device itself. Is there soap, rust, or a broken clasp? If so, all three can be easily remedied in a matter of moments. Again, using the above-mentioned products can release rust or soap scum and aid in the proper closure of the handle and clasp. If the handle grip teeth or clasp mechanism is corroded or broken, it must be replaced.

There is also the issue of house-settling, improper shower pan installation, and improper shower door installation. Using a level, it should be easy to determine if any of these conditions exist.

If all else fails, consider the actual age of the door that is stuck and its composition. Most shower doors, hinges, and tracks will last during daily use for up to 15 years. Of course, that number depends upon the amount of people using the door and the frequency of daily use.

Most shower doors can be easily checked without special tools and the repairs can save loss of water, time cleaning up splatters, and the aggravation of calling in a plumber. Try these tips before picking up the phone, and it may be a surprise that it will be easy to fix, and another accomplishment in the homeowner's tool belt.

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