I grew up in a house with an outside deck. So I have many fond memories of sitting outside on warm, sunny days, reading and enjoying the view of my neighborhood. I would often open the sliding deck door to the adjacent living room while keeping the screen door shut so I could hear music from the living-room stereo without worrying about insects sneaking to the indoors.
So when that screen door started showing signs of wear and tear, my mom would complain how my brother and I were to blame (“too much rough housing” she would say) and “how in the world am I going to fix it?” What mom didn’t know is that while trying to patch a ripped screen door can seem difficult, it’s actually not so hard to fix.
We've compiled a list of common issues and helpful DIY remedies to make screen-door repairs a breeze:
Screen replacement 101
Because the screens in most screen doors consist of lightweight fiberglass, tears in the material are hardly unheard of, according to Popular Mechanics. Fortunately, they're also easy and fairly inexpensive to replace. Your local hardware store will almost definitely have a replacement screen that fits your door. They'll also have the specialized tool for dealing with spline - the rubber tubing that surrounds the perimeter of a screen and keeps it affixed to the door frame.
Let's go step by step:
- Remove the old screen by lifting it away from the track-mounted rollers. Pull the bottom of the material out and then lower the door until the screen clears the top edge of the frame.
- From there, you can cut your own portion of screen material from a large roll, as HGTV noted, or purchase an a la carte pre-cut screen from your local hardware store.
- Next, unscrew the door's handle, then remove the segments of spline surrounding the door frame with an awl. (Don't get rid of your spline if it doesn't show signs of damage, as intact spline can be reused.
- Use a screwdriver to remove the rollers and reattach either new or existing spline.
- Align the replacement screen with the frame, using the spline tool's convex and concave rollers to press the rubber tubing into the frame grooves.
- Fit the screen snugly into the splined frame.
- Finally, trim any excess fiberglass and reattach any parts of the door (latch, rollers, panel and so on) you might've removed.
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Dragging wheels and other irritations
If opening your sliding screen door is a chore - it moves slowly, creaks or doesn't close all the way - it's time to remedy that situation. (Especially if you want to avoid insect intruders.)
The culprit behind the dragging screen is frequently worn-down or broken wheels along either the top or bottom edge of the door's frame, according to The Family Handyman. But just like a torn screen, this problem isn't too hard to remedy - and neither are some other issues that may be at play.
- Make sure the wheel track is clean and unobstructed.
- Addressing a jammed track is even easier than a wheel replacement: just clear any debris or dirt from it. If the track is bent, straighten it with a pair of pliers.
- Check the screws holding the wheels in place - if they're too loose or too tight, adjust as necessary.
- Don't forget to check the sliding screen's top row of wheels. Because of their location, they don't experience as much wear and tear, but better to be safe than sorry.
If these steps don't address the issue, you probably need to change the wheels. As with replacement screens, you can easily find spare screen-door wheels at most hardware stores. To start, remove the screen door from its tracks. From there, you can unscrew the old wheels, affix your replacements to the door and put the adjusted door back in place. Ideally, it should move smoothly from then on.
A screen door that is damaged beyond repair will need to be completely replaced. You can call your local hardware store, handyman, or big box retailer to find a new screen door that works for you.
Being prepared for home repairs before they arise is always a good strategy. See how plans from HomeServe can help with the costs of covered repairs.