Q: On a visit to our friend’s house, my youngest son ran toward the sliding-glass doors leading to the back yard and went right through the screen door. He’s fine, but I want to fix the damage. Can I do so without having to buy a whole new door? — Joe T., Hartford, Conn.
A: If the doorframe is undamaged, you should be able to replace the screen itself without paying too much. With your friend, inspect the doorframe for warped or broken rollers. Make sure it’s seated properly in the track and rolls easily back and forth.
If the door sticks when it rolls, check the bottom rollers. (Gently wiggle each side of the door; the side with more resistance may have a roller off the track.) Carefully lift up that side of the door as far as it will go (usually a fraction of an inch). Use a small putty knife to gently push the roller wheel back down into its track, and test.
Now you can elect to either replace the screen and any damaged components (if the rollers broke or were loosened, for example), or to replace the entire door ($50 to upward of $100). Also consider how much time and effort you want to put into the repair versus a replacement.
For time’s sake, let’s go with the screen replacement. If replacement parts are available for that specific model, get those; otherwise, a generic replacement kit with nylon screen and spline should work fine. Purchase a spline roller as well.
Remove the screen door from its tracks by lifting upward and tugging out. Lay the door flat on a clean surface with the screen side nearest you. Locate the rubber spline around the perimeter of the screen. Using a flat screwdriver, ease a section of spline out of its track and then pull the entire run out. The broken screen will come out with it.
Next, roll the replacement screen out and pre-measure. Leave at least 1 inch extra around all four sides. Use a utility knife to cut the screen to size.
With a helper holding the screen in place, use the spline roller’s convex (ungrooved) end to push the new screen down into its groove on one side of the door. Follow up by pushing the new spline into place in the groove, pinning the screen in. Use the grooved side of the roller to push the spline in tightly.
Repeat the process on all four sides, working carefully around each corner so that the edges don’t tear the screen. Hold the screen taut as you work.
Once the spline is in place, carefully cut away the extra length at the end and push the nub down into the groove. Use a utility knife to trim away the excess screen from the outer edge of the spline groove.
Put the door back into place, setting it into the top of the frame first and then easing into its bottom track, being careful not to damage the rollers.
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