TIP: Here is a simple test YOU can do at home to determine if your door is out of alignment. Bring the door up close to where it locks, but leave a small crack so you can still see light from outside through it- maybe ¼” to ½”. Once you have done that, step straight back about 6-8 feet from the door and examine the crack very carefully. If the crack is UNEVEN, then that is indicating that the wheels in that moving panel are OUT of ALIGNMENT!
What happens if the crack is uneven? If the wheel systems (aka rollers) are not new that uneven crack indicates to us that the door wheels are likely challenged and in need of replacement. Generally this unevenness is accompanied by difficulty in opening the door, or wheels that are noisy. If you have either of those issues then it is time to replace the wheels. TIP:We typically use better quality stainless rollers that have sealed bearings, thus avoiding the need for further lubrication on the rollers. However not all doors have a stainless steel option, but the majority of door systems do.
Why should I care if my door is out of alignment?
That is a great question! Alignment issues affect a number of the door’s functions. One of the most important is the locking ability of the door. If the door is uneven at a greater rate than the tolerance of the locking mechanism’s ability to bridge the gap between the mortise (hooking mechanism that comes from the panel) and the keeper (receptacle in the door frame that holds the mortise in place while locked) then the door may not lock at all, may lock too hard, or may be loose and able to be jiggled out of place easily by an intruder.
Are there any other problems created by unaligned doors?
Another issue with alignment is the ability of the door to keep out cold winds in the winter and maintain AC in the summer. Doors “hold hands” through interlocking channels that correspond and meet between the doors. On the end furthest away from the lock, let’s call that the butt end of the door, there is a C-channel commonly referred to as an “interlock” that hooks around. On the next over door on its’ front end there is a corresponding interlocking channel. The two doors both have long skinny pieces of weatherstripping in those areas as well. So one consequence of an uneven alignment is having misaligned weatherstripping. It would be like asking you to clap your hands without allowing you to align your hands. You might be making the clapping motion, but if the two hands are not intersecting, then NO noise occurs. In that same way, two pieces of unaligned weatherstripping cannot function to keep out air, water, noise or wind efficiently.
TIP:Make certain you have quality weatherstripping in your door system to keep a weather tight seal keeping cold out in the winter and AC in during the summer!
When the doors are NOT aligning properly, these interlocking channels bang into each other at an uneven rate. For example if the door is tight at the top, then that means each time it closes and locks, that moving door bangs in the head the next over panel. If you did that to your partner every time you moved, you would have a very unhappy and irritated person. Doors are NO DIFFERENT except that they cannot speak, so their way of “speaking” is to gradually MOVE over time. They will become misaligned themselves- even if they are a “NON-MOVING” panel attached to the wall.
Un-aligned and/or moving “fixed” door panels are not the only issue that comes up when the interlocks bang inappropriately. Another problem we see a lot is glass separation which will be discussed in the next question.