How To Fix a Drawer That Won’t Stay Closed: Try this…


Are your drawers constantly sliding open? If so, chances are, you can fix the problem in just a few minutes. 

If your drawer door won’t stay closed, chances are you can fix it in a few minutes with just a screwdriver. Damaged and misaligned drawers almost never stay closed. Additionally, uneven runners or uneven cabinets can cause drawers to slide open. Fix your drawer with these handy tips. 

Introduction

Drawer creep, or the phenomenon of drawers that won’t stay closed, is annoying. Drawers slide open and catch on clothes, things fall out, or pets get in. Often, drawer creep means drawers aren’t balanced or levelled properly. Luckily, fixing that is normally easy. However, with hundreds of different drawer designs, fixing a drawer that won’t’ stay closed will depend on your drawers. For example, fixing soft close drawers is completely different from fixing normal gliders. Or worse, if you have a simple sliding drawer on a platform. 

Therefore, the first step to fixing your drawers is determining what type of mechanism you have. From there, you can investigate to find out what’s gone wrong. And, once you do, a fix is usually just a few minutes of your time.

11 Reasons Why Your Kitchen Drawer Won’t Stay Closed

With dozens of different drawer types, a lot of things can go wrong with drawer closures. Luckily, almost all of them are also easy to fix. Additionally, in most cases, your problem relates to the runners or glides. 

1. Something is Stuck 

First things first, it’s important to make sure nothing is stuck in or at the top of your drawer. Chances are, you’ve already checked, and you can skip this step. On the other hand, if you haven’t, consider taking everything out of the drawer. Once you do, you can take it out of the runners. Afterwards, check behind it, especially in the drawer above (if relevant), the runners, and behind the drawer. Taking your drawer out is also the first step for the next diagnostics, so you won’t be wasting your time. 

2. Loose Runners

Loose runners are the most common reason for a drawer that won’t stay closed. Here, most drawers feature runners or glides attached to the outside of the drawer and the inside of the cabinet. It’s important to check if they’re fastened tightly against both. If they aren’t, you might have found your issue. 

3. Misaligned Runners

If your runners aren’t properly aligned, the drawer will stick, slide open, or even slide closed while you’re using it. How can you tell? Use a level to see if your glides are even. However, if you don’t have a level, you can use a tape measure instead. Here, you want to make sure both sides of the runner are the same distance from the top of the cabinet or drawer. Additionally, you have to measure the runners on the drawer and the door to be sure. 

4. An Improperly Squared Drawer

A lot of modern drawers come ready-to-assemble. This means you save money on furniture. But, it also means you’re more likely to have problems. Therefore, if you or the installer improperly assembled the drawer, it might slide open. How can you tell? Chances are, you have a ruler square in the house. Use it on the corners to see if every corner is perfectly square. You can also try setting the drawer upright and measuring the length of each side. If there’s even a slight difference, your drawer isn’t square. 

5. Bent Runners (Ball Bearing Drawers)

If you have old ball bearing glides, like those used in auto and soft-closing drawers, small bends might cause the drawer to creep open. That’s also true if the runner has bends or is warped. 

6. Unlevelled Cabinet 

Your drawers might creep open if your cabinet isn’t properly levelled. To check, take the same approach as checking the drawer. Either use a level or measure the cabinet. Here, you’ll want to check the distance of the front and back of the cabinet to the floor, on every corner. If you’re measuring hanging cabinets, the ceiling may be easier to measure to. However, your ceiling is less likely to be level. 

7. Loose Center Track 

Some cabinets use a center track under the drawer. If this is loose, it could cause the drawer to creep open. To see if this is the case, take the drawer out and check the center support. You’ll also want to check the track under the drawer. 

8. Sagging Runners 

Sometimes runners simply wear out. That’s especially true if they’re plastic or light aluminum. Most importantly, the more you load a drawer, the faster runners wear out. If your glides are sagging in the middle, it might cause drawers to slide open. In this case, you’ll have to replace them. 

Luckily, all you’ll need is a tape measure and a screwdriver. Here, you’ll want to measure the glides and take them to your nearest hardware store. In most cases, replacements start at about $10 per pair. 

9. Broken Latch 

A lot of drawers rely on latches to stay closed. Logically, if yours isn’t working properly, your drawer will slide open. Here, you should inspect both sides of the latch for missing pieces, broken pieces, or bent pieces. In some cases, your latch might just be sticking. In this case, you can always clean and oil it to restore it to function. 

10. Poorly Aligned Latch 

If your latch is in good working order but not catching, it might be poorly aligned. Check to make sure the latch hook or magnet aligns with the opposite side when closed. If not, you’ll want to move it, so it does align. 

11. Springs too Loose

Your self-closing or damping drawers likely use springs. Additionally, if those springs are loose, your drawers will come open. Unfortunately, not all self-closing drawers allow you to tighten the springs. On the other hand, others feature a winding screw for just that purpose. If not, you’ll likely have to replace the screw. 

How to Fix a Drawer that Won’t Close All the Way 

If your drawer is failing to close all the way or sliding open, you can fix it. If not, replacing drawer glides is also easy. We’ll walk you through how to fix your drawers in a few easy steps. 

Things You Will Need

  • Screwdriver – Most likely a Phillips #2 screwdriver. If you have Ikea, you want Pozidriv #2. However, your cabinets might have a flat head or another size of screw. Always check to see what you need. 
  • Level – If you’re just checking your cabinets, you can make do with a half-full bottle of water. On the other hand, if you don’t have a level, you can use an app on almost any smartphone. However, nothing beats a good level. 
  • Tape Measure – Even a small one will do. You just want to ensure your drawers are level 
  • Optional: Depending on your cabinet you may need needle nose pliers, a headlamp, or a hammer. If you don’t have these on hand, don’t fret, you can always find workarounds. 
  • Square – A work or craft square, such as a ruler square, is good enough. 
  • Allen Wrench set – Most drawer locks use hexagon keys or Allen wrenches. However, sizes vary considerably so you might want a full set. 

Remove Your Drawers

Empty your drawers and make sure all the weight is off the bottom of the drawer. This is important because some drawers rely on the center runner to support the drawer. To get started, pull the drawer out. This might require undoing retention screws or using a lift mechanism. You know your drawers best. And, if you don’t, it’s easy enough to google your cabinet type to determine how to take the drawers out. 

If you want to look inside your drawer space, make sure you take all the drawers out. This will give you room to maneuver, without risking damaging the other drawers. 

  • Some drawers use retention screws or clips. You can normally remove these with needle nose pliers or a screwdriver. In the case of tool-less systems like Ikea, there’s normally a switch on the hinge. Check your specific model for details. 

Make Sure Everything is Level 

Start by checking that your counter or cabinet is level. Set the level on the top of the cabinet, near the center. Make sure the bubble is in the center of the level. Move the level to the side and, again, make sure it’s centered. 

If your cabinet isn’t level, start there. You can level a cabinet by adjusting wall hooks. You might also have adjustable feet to level your cabinet. Or, you might consider blocking under your counter to level it out. However, if you have a heavy counter, you may want to ask for help. 

Check the Glides/Runners

Set your drawer on a workspace. If you’re doing so on a table, make sure you use a rug or protective covering to avoid damaging the table. Check the glides and runners. For example, are they tight? Are they straight? Or, are they bent or warped? Use a level to see if they are straight. 

  • Tighten screws if glides rattle or are loose. Make sure you check the bottom glide where applicable. 
  • If your glides aren’t level, adjust the guide screws until they are. If there aren’t any guide screws, you may have to re-drill the holes. Use the level and a pencil to mark out where the runner should be. Note the positioning down and use a screwdriver or a hand drill to make a new hole. Move your runner and make sure it’s tightly fastened in place. Double check that it’s level. 
  • If your runners are slightly bent in some places, you can normally use a pair of needle nose pliers to straighten them. If you can’t or if the damage is considerable, you might want to replace them. Most runners are available cheaply from nearly any hardware store. If you get the same size track (height and length), your new runners should fit exactly. However, it’s always a good idea to check your drawer’s brand if you want to be sure the new glides are a good fit. 

Checking the Drawer 

Is your drawer square. Take a square to the corners of the drawer to see. If it’s not, most drawers have a “lock” in the back. You can tighten this to pull the drawer into shape. 

If your drawer doesn’t have a key or if that doesn’t fix the issue, you can try taking it apart. For example, if you have an Ikea drawer, it might have been improperly assembled. Dismantling it and reassembling it may fix the problem. 

Putting Everything Back 

Once you’re sure everything is level and tight, put it back. 

Drawer Keeps Opening? (Tested Strategies for You) 

If you tried everything from the above section, hopefully your drawer is fixed. If not, these alternative quick fixes should ensure your drawers stop sliding open

Install a Latch 

Installing a magnet or catch lock is a surefire way to keep your drawers closed. Therefore, it’s important to check how heavy your drawer is. For example, if you’ve loaded the drawer, like with a lot of silverware, a light magnet or latch won’t keep it closed. However, for most drawers, a single latch will do. 

  • Child-safe magnetic latches are an easy way to keep drawers closed. They’re cheap, easy to install, and heavy-duty enough to resist significant pull. 
  • Make sure you line latches up when installing them. In most cases, you can install latches with a simple screwdriver, but the top and bottom portions have to align perfectly. 

Replace the Glides 

Replacing guides will solve most drawer issues, providing the problem isn’t the cabinet or a misshapen drawer. Try checking your drawer brand and replacing it with the same model. Otherwise, you can easily replace both sides of the track with any glides of the same length you would find at a hardware store. Keep in mind you may have to drill new holes in the drawer and the cabinet. 

Reinforce the Drawer or Cabinet 

If your runners are loose, the problem might be the cabinet not the screws. For example, if you have an old particle board drawer, the screws might be loose because the wood is deteriorating. Try taking the screws out and filling the holes with wood filler or epoxy putty. Wait for it to dry and then re-drill your holes. 

Install Self-Closing Glides 

Self-closing drawers use springs to keep drawers closed. For example, if you don’t have a lot of weight in the drawer, this can be more than enough to keep your drawer closed. However, self-closing glides can be expensive. You might also find that they are bulkier and may not fit if the space between the drawer and the cabinet is very tight. 

To End 

There are dozens of reasons your drawers might be sliding open. Hopefully this guide helps you to resolve the issue.

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