Our sliding doors are stalling despite the provider’s efforts to fix it

Property Clinic: The weight of the slider described requires a lot of technical consideration

If your system has been designed by a systems house for fabricating and installing by a local factory,  then there will be manufacturing tolerance standards that are critical to their operation in all situations

If your system has been designed by a systems house for fabricating and installing by a local factory, then there will be manufacturing tolerance standards that are critical to their operation in all situations

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Two years ago, we undertook some refurbishment of the ground floor of our house to create an open-plan living/dining area. As part of the work, we increased the size of the sliding doors to the back garden to 2,400mm by 2,100mm. These doors were installed by a reputable provider. Unfortunately, we have an ongoing issue with the operation of the doors in cold weather. In mild or warm weather, the door slides easily with little effort. But as the temperature drops, the door becomes harder to open and it takes a good deal of effort to move it across. We have had the company out on several occasions, and the last time they did some remedial work, but the problem persists. Can you please advise how best we might proceed?

Large sliding doors are a great idea to create the feel of a larger room and allow access to a garden or deck area when the weather allows. A sliding mechanism is often the most cost efficient and trouble-free way to achieve the desired opening rather than the costlier folding/sliding type often highlighted in architectural design programmes.

The width and height of the opening as well as the type of glazing unit will dictate what type of mechanism and construction is needed to allow the smooth and easy operation of the doors. Mostly a double-glazed unit was the norm but recent drives to improve energy efficiency are promoting triple glazing and many manufacturers offer the higher standard with consequent effects on operation and use situations.

The weight of the slider of the size you describe could be more than 80kg and that requires a lot of technical consideration if the tolerances for seals and ease are to be maintained.

You don’t tell us what type of unit you have. Aluminium and uPVC will move dramatically with temperature while timber can swell or shrink seasonally or due to orientation. These factors all add up to cause the problems you describe.

If the system has been designed by a systems house for fabricating and installing by a local factory, as is often the case, then there will be manufacturing tolerance standards that are critical to their operation in all situations. These are often not met by a local factory and could be just a millimetre or so outside the design parameters causing the unit to bind as you describe.

If your contractor is a reseller of a “system” then your first avenue will be to have the system manufacturer’s representative attend to review the issues. This person should be able to determine if the fabricator has the tolerances set too tight or if there was any discrepancy when either making or installing the unit and advise you what they jointly intend to do to rectify matters.

If the installer is acting directly for a manufacturer then he will be bound by both the sale of goods Act and the Construction Products Regulations which describe fitness for purpose. In this event, you should advise the company representative in writing that you are not satisfied with the item and demand a refund unless they resolve the issues to your satisfaction, and you may require legal advice from that point.

Alternatively, binding can be caused by movement in the structure and I assume a new beam and cill detail was fitted which, if badly installed, could give rise to the issues you describe, especially if you have a timber-framed house. In this case you should contact your local chartered building surveyor who will report and advise.

Fergus Merriman is a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie

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