Repairing Sliding Windows

This story shows you how to repair sliding windows.


Most sliding (also called gliding) windows have one or more sashes that slide along metal tracks at the bottom and top of the frame. Sometimes the tracks are wood or vinyl. Sashes may have nylon rollers on the bottom and sometimes the top as well.

The most common problem is a dirty bottom track. The solution is to clean and lubricate the track. The rollers on the bottom of the sash can pick up dust and may need to be cleaned as well.

A catch, which secures the window when closed, can fail. You may be able to bend a small part to make it work, but often the solution is to replace the catch.

Finding replacement parts can be difficult. If you can find the make and model of the unit, you may be able to contact the manufacturer or an online parts supply source to obtain the parts you need.

Prestart Checklist

1 or 2 hours for most repairs

Screwdriver, pliers, hammer, wire brush, vacuum, putty knife

No special skills needed

Place a drop cloth on the floor near the window.

Replacement rollers (glides) or latch as needed, spray graphite lubricant

Fixing a rough-gliding slider: Step 1

To remove a sliding sash, remove any security devices that may be holding it in place. Lift the sash into the top track, tilt the bottom out, and remove the window. With some models you need to align the rollers with notches in the bottom track before the sash will tilt out.

Fixing a rough-gliding slider: Step 2

Vacuum the track, then clean with a solvent-dampened rag. Continue to clean until all the debris is removed.

Fixing a rough-gliding slider: Step 3

If the bottom roller (or glide) does not roll, try cleaning it. If it still does not operate, remove it. On a wood sash you can unscrew the roller unit and remove it. For some metal units you may have to first disassemble the bottom rail. Knock the pieces apart using a hammer and a block of wood.

Fixing a rough-gliding slider: Step 4

Slip a new roller unit in and tighten the mounting screws. If you had to dismantle the window, reinstall the bottom rail.

Fixing a rough-gliding slider: Step 5

When replacing the window it often helps to ease the rollers over the lip of the track with a putty knife.

Comments (6)
ALR4672310DW wrote:

Hired a guy to fix sliding aluminum window that was falling forward from top. Thought he replaced bottom gliders; it worked at first, but is back to falling in. So I tried. The top removes (to say the least), but I can't pull the bottom out. It's stuck below the rim it's supposed to rest & glide on. I don't see any way to temporarily remove the track itself. It seems to be the one thing in universe the internet has never heard of. Would appreciate suggestions!

7/31/2016 06:04:27 PM Report Abuse
sandytull42 wrote:

I had nightmares when you mentioned wood sliding tracks... I'd never use wood again! You should use a vinyl replacement. Vinyl may look cheap and gimmicky, but you'd never have to re-varnish it, replace it, and it doesn't get ruined every time you wash the window!

11/6/2015 02:34:03 PM Report Abuse
stephiesmith92 wrote:

This was a really helpful article, but I am having the hardest time finding the parts I need for my aluminum door. I'm almost to the point of hiring a contractor to come out and fix it, or just replace the whole thing and get maybe a wood door. This was a great post, and good to keep in mind if I need to repair again someday. Thanks!

5/27/2015 12:11:10 PM Report Abuse
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