|Ask This Old House With Norm|
David: Norm Replies: Pocket doors in newer houses like yours are fairly easy to fix. They hang from two sets of rollers that ride on a metal track extending from the pocket in the wall to the opposite side of the doorway. Pocket doors that roll along the floor, once used in really old houses, are harder to put right.
In order to access the track and rollers, you'll have to remove the split headers-horizontal strips inside the head casings that trap the top of the door when it's closed. Use a utility knife to break the paint bond between the strips and the head casings, then unscrew or pry off the strips, as I'm doing here. Using a flashlight, peek inside the pocket and see how many wheels each roller has-two, three, or four. That will determine how the door can be removed.
To get a stuck door out of its pocket, fit the hooked end of a small pry bar under the door's bottom edge and push down on the bar. This will lift the door up and out of the opening just enough so you can grab it. But first, tape down some cardboard to protect the floor.
It may be possible now to put the wheels back on track. Otherwise, drag the door out of the pocket as far as you can. if the door has two-wheel rollers, which ride in a C-shaped track, pry off one of the split side jambs that cover the pocket. Now you can grab the door, lift it off the track, and take it out. For doors with three or four-wheel rollers, leave the jambs alone, and disengage the lever holding each roller to the top of the door. Lift the door off the rollers, and slide them out of the gap at the end of the track.
Carefully inspect the track and the rollers. If they're in good condition, clean them, lubricate the wheels, check that all the fasteners are tight, and rehang the door. Put back the split headers and the split jamb, it necessary. If a wheel is damaged, replace the roller assembly with a matching one. A web search should turn up a replacement. But if the track is damaged, you'll have to cut open a section in the pocket wall just below the track, detach the old track, and put in a new one.
This might be a good opportunity to upgrade the track and the rollers, it the pocket is wide enough to accommodate them. In my experience, pocket doors with three and four-wheels have sturdier tracks and aren't as troublesome as those with two-wheel rollers.
This article is from the November/December issue of This Old House Magazine.