Repairing Interior Pocket Doors
Interior pocket doors are a great feature in a home. With limited space you can have a door disappear into the wall. Need to close the door? Just slide it back and you have privacy. It is that sliding and disappearing feature that causes some special problems. In this article we will identify the problems you may encounter with a pocket door. Most problems can be repaired without too much difficulty. Can you fix a door that has gone off the track? Do you need to replace the rollers? How do you get inside the wall to fix a problem? Can you lubricate the rollers? These are all questions you may be asking. The following paragraphs will address them.
The majority of the issues with pocket doors will be related to the roller-hanger assembly. The rollers keep the door on the track, provide adjustment for the alignment of the door and carry the weight of the door. No mystery then that most repairs will involve doing something with this assembly.
Lubricating Interior Pocket Doors
For doors that are stiff and difficult to operate, lubrication is probably the answer. The door rollers are a moving part with bearings that can get stiff. Lubrication can loosen them up and save your back. A word of caution, this needs to be controlled lubrication. Don’t go out to the garage and get a grease gun, you will be sorry. Remember that this is a finished portion of your home and grease or oil running down the door will not be pretty.
Get a good quality silicone spray lubricant. You should be able to get one suitable for this purpose at a home supply or hardware store for around $5. This type of spray usually comes with a narrow plastic tube that allows you to surgically apply the lubricant. It should say on the can that it is suitable for interior home hardware applications.
For interior pocket doors, the roller-hanger assemblies are located on the top of the door near each end. You will need to have the door closed to see both of them. There is a narrow gap between the top of the door and the track. Use a flashlight if you need to, but you should be able to see the rollers. Most pocket doors have four rollers for each hanger. With a rag in hand, judiciously spray the rollers with the lubricant. You will probably need to get on both sides of the door to get at all of the rollers. Work the door back and forth until the rollers move smoothly. Add a little more spray as required, until you are satisfied with the operation.
Adjusting Interior Pocket Doors
Another major problem with interior pocket doors is alignment. Is the door rubbing on the floor? Does the latch refuse to catch? Is there a gap along the side of the door when it is closed? Yes to any of these questions means you have some alignment problems. Adjusting the pocket door hangers will solve most if not all of these problems.
You can see the hangers in the gap between the top of the door and the track. The hangers are threaded and will have an adjustment nut at the bottom, near the attachment to the door. The hardware that came with the door probably had one of those thin special wrenches in it. Got any idea where that wrench it now? No, don’t feel bad, it’s probably in your builder’s warehouse. A thin profile adjustable or open end wrench should work.
You will need to have the door closed to see both hangers. Keep in mind that any adjustment to the hangers will affect all four sides of the door. Adjusting the front hanger up will cause the bottom of the door to move toward the strike side of the frame. The two hangers will work against each other. An adjustment to the rear hanger will work opposite of the front hanger.
So are you confused at this point? Don’t feel bad, it’s common. You just need to get a mental picture of what you are trying to do. If the door is straight in the opening and you just need to pick it up? In this case you adjust both hangers up the same amount. Is the door hitting the door frame on the bottom before the top? For this situation you want to adjust the front of the door down or the back of the door up. You only have so much adjustment on each hanger. Sometimes you will need to adjust a little on one hanger and a little in the opposite direction on the other hanger.
Putting Interior Pocket Doors Back on Track
Obviously, you need a way to take an interior pocket door off when necessary. As a result a removal feature is built into the hanger assembly. The down side to this is that the pocket door can come loose and pop off the hanger. Putting them back on is not too difficult.
Again we need to go to that narrow space that is between the top of the door and the track. The door will have a hanger clip that is attached to the top of the door. This clip has a preformed pocket in it that allows the door to slide onto the threaded hanger. There should be a retaining feature next to it. Release the retainer and then pick the door back up and slide the clip onto the hanger. With the door in place you can reset the retainer.
Wait a minute, is it the rear hanger? Is it lost somewhere in that cavern that you can’t get to? Take a breath, it is not that terrible. It is, however, a bit more work. You will need to take the door completely off to solve this problem. The door should not be that heavy, but help is a good idea. Release the retainer on the front clip. Slide the front of the door off the hanger and set it aside for a minute. Lean it against the wall where it won’t get knocked over.
The other hanger is somewhere inside that pocket that you thought was a great idea until now. Fortunately, the other hanger is on rollers and you can use something to slide it out to a location you can get to. A broom handle or some other fairly thin, long stiff object will work. Try to find the end of the track with the broom handle and then slide it in the groove until you come to the roller. Keep coming forward until you can get to it.
To re-hang the door you release the retainer on the back hanger first. Put the door onto this hanger while employing the services of a helper. Slide the retainer back into place to secure it. Align the door with the opening in the wall and slide the door several inches into the pocket. Attach the door to the second hanger and secure the retainer. The door should slide back and forth now.
Repairing Interior Pocket Doors Summary
This article covered three interior pocket door repair topics that should cover the majority of problems you will face. Lubrication is a big factor, keep the rollers lubricated and your door should work smoothly. Door alignment can also cause troubles. Adjusting the hangers is not hard, it just takes some patience. Finally we discussed a door that has fallen off the hanger. None of these repairs should be that difficult or require the services of a professional. Hopefully, you saved yourself a few dollars.