A homeowner's guide to repairing a pocket door without calling a contractor.
A pocket door can work problem free for years with minimal maintenance. Most pocket doors with problems have bent rails, dirty and worn wheel bearings, or wheels that are out of adjustment or in need of lubrication. Usually a homeowner can repair a pocket door without calling a professional contractor.
Troubleshoot the Pocket Door
1) Open the pocket door fully and examine the rails. The rails must mount to the door frame tightly and must not sag in the middle. Pull down on the rail slightly to verify it remains tight once weight is applied to it. The rail's groove, the part the wheels ride on, must not be bent or have excessive amounts of debris on it.
2) Open and close the pocket door and watch the wheels ride along the rails. Verify the wheels spin as they cross the rail. A wheel that does not spin needs its bearings checked. If the wheel jumps off the track, check that area of the track for debris or damage.
3) Open and close the pocket door and watch the bottom of the door. The door should not rub or grab the floor or the door guides, if equipped. A pocket door that rubs the floor needs its wheels adjusted up.
4) Close the door completely. Check the door's reveal against the door frame and its height. The door should have an even reveal from top to bottom when it is closed against the frame. If not, then one wheel needs to be adjusted. If the top of the door has an excessive gap, then both wheels need to be adjusted up. If the top of the door rubs against the rail, then the wheels need to be adjusted down.
Repair the Pocket Door
1) Replace the top rail if it is bent. Remove the door casing on one side, usually the side of the door facing the largest room. Grip the door with both hands and lift it off the rail, then angle the bottom of the door toward the room and slide the door out of the pocket. Unscrew the rail from the inside of the frame. Cut the new frame the same length as the old rail. Hold the new rail at the same height as as the old rail, then screw it into place.
2) Clean the pocket door's top rail with a clean rag. Remove all of the debris and oil with the rag. Oil gathers dirt and dust on the rail.
3) Replace the wheels if they have flat spots or the bearings will not spin freely. In most cases, the wheels mount to the adjustment bracket and the adjustment bracket screws to the top of the pocket door. If the adjustment bracket's screw holes are stripped, stuff toothpicks into the hole before attaching the bracket to the door.
4) Apply a small amount of oil to the wheel bearings. Do not flood the bearing. Spin each wheel several times.
5) Reinstall the pocket door.
6) Move the door in and out of the pocket several times. Close the door and check the door's reveal against the frame. If the bottom of the door touches the frame but the top of the door does not, either lower the front adjustment bracket or raise the rear bracket. If the top of the door touches the frame but the bottom does not, either raise the front adjustment bracket or lower the rear bracket. Once the pocket door's reveal is the same from top to bottom, adjust the door's height until its top rests about 1/2 inch from the rail.
7) Replace the door's casing.
The wheel bearings on a pocket door require a drop or two of oil every 6 to 12 months, depending on the amount of use. Never apply oil directly to the rail. If a pocket door starts to drag, adjust the wheels before they fall off the track. Maintaining a pocket door's hardware will ensure many years of problem free use.