Pet Doors for Sliding Glass Doors FAQ
Q - Do you have dual pane/insulated glass in your sliding glass door?
A - If so, you may be glad to know that a number of patio pet doors are available with dual-pane, insulated glass panels. A few even offer a low "E" coating for even better performance. This feature is especially important in cold climates. Low outside temperatures combined with moist, warm air inside can result in condensation on the inside of any glass window including that in a patio pet door. Dual pane, low "E" glass can greatly reduce or eliminate this problem.
In more temperate climates, single pane glass may be perfectly adequate. After all, the area of the glass in a patio pet door is pretty small and won't make much difference in mild climates.
Q - How do I tell if the glass is dual-pane or single pane?
A - Open your slider and put a finger on both sides of the glass. If your fingers look like they're touching, you have single pane glass. If they stop about 1/2" apart, you have dual pane glass. You probably won't be able to tell if you have a low "E" coating, though you may see a slight tint that would give it away.
Q - Do you have anything for my newer vinyl framed sliding glass door?
A - Some newer patio pet doors are built specifically for installation in vinyl framed sliding glass door tracks. We think they're a great choice because, with vinyl frames themselves, they look more like they "belong" and will generally actually engage the lock on your sliding glass door.
However, there are disadvantages as well. They're relatively hard to install, they're not readily removeable and they come in a very limited range of sizes and 'step-over' heights. Some choose these and others prefer the more general-purpose patio pet doors to get a broader range of feature choices.
Q - Which track shall I install in?
A - Most people install panel pet doors in the glass track against the sliding door jamb. Then the sliding glass door opens and closes against it. The pet door is always stationary.
Some choose an outside screen track. In that case, we suggest you use a 'spring-load' type. If the glass track height and screen track height are close enough together, you may be able to move the pet door from one to the other as the weather dictates.
Please notice that the thickness of the pet door will not be the same as the thickness of your track. There are too many track widths to make a separate panel for each one and so no manufacturer does. They are all built on the 'thin' side so as to fit any sliding door track. Properly installed, this fact is not noticeable.
The vinyl-framed pet doors will be thicker to more nearly match vinyl-framed sliding glass doors.
Q - Do I want a 'temporary' or a 'semi-permanent' installation?
A - A temporary installation panel pet door may be put in and taken out again easily. Use them when you don't want the panel installed all the time. You might, for example, wish to use the panel only during warm weather or only when you are at home.
A semi-permanent only pet panel, on the other hand, must be fastened into the track. The reason is that the manufacturer has put a lock on the pet door which mates to a bracket on the sliding glass door. For that lock to work, the panel must be fastened in place.
There are, as well, a group of patio panel inserts that are neither a temporary install or a semi-permanent install but somewhere in between. That is they may require tools to set up but are not fastened into your track.
If a semi-permanent install is desired and the furniture and drapes permit, installing between the stationary panel and the opposite wall may be excellent. By so doing you may avoid needing to reset an alarm system or you may allow use of an existing outside keyed lock. You'll have to examine your stationary panel to see how to move it. There's no one answer to that question.
A little understood fact is that all pet doors designed for temporary installation may be made semi-permanent by fastening them into the track with sheet metal screws. So a temporary type panel has the broadest range of installation choices.
Q - What step-over do I want?
A - 'Step-Over' is the height that the flap is raised above the ground. So a Bassett Hound and a Doberman may both be able to use a typical 'large' size flap but only if the 'step-over' is set low for the Bassett and higher for the Dobe. The rule is that you want the step-over to be tall enough to get the top of the flap at least as tall as the height of the pet at the top of his shoulder. So, if you are using a 10"x15" flap for a dog standing 22" at the withers, you'd like the step-over to be at least 7".
But that isn't the end of the story. What happens when the dog gets old or arthritic and has trouble stepping over 7"? Then you'll wish you had bought a taller flap with a lower step-over!
So one thing to look for in a flap is 'aspect ratio' which is the ratio of the height to the width. Taller aspect ratio flaps allow for lower step-overs for a given width.
As well, a few patio panels have a patented user adjustable step-over feature that provides great flexibility both now and in future. What if your tall dog goes to the Rainbow Bridge and you replace him with a shorter one (from the local shelter, of course!)? Now the little guy can't manage the step-over that was easy for the big guy. But you can simply lower the step-over! Neat!
You can simply buy a larger size in a different brand, of course, to get more flap height. But then you'll be getting more width than you need in addition to the additional height. Major disadvantages of excess width include loss of space in the opening for people use and additional cost. Worse, sometimes going from an 8" width to a 10" width introduces a security problem. 10" x 15" is large enough for a person to wiggle through while 8" x 15" isn't in many cases.
Q - Do I need an electronic patio panel or will a regular manual one do?
A - Generally, we think that if you haven't got a specific reason to get an electronic panel then you should get a regular manual one. There's less to go wrong. However, if you've got a stray cat problem or especially a raccoon problem, you'll need an electronic patio panel. Another point: If your dog or cat is infirm or very old, one of the motorized panels that allows him out without his having to push a flap might be the ticket.
Q - Can I return a panel after purchase?
A - Yes, our regular return policy applies to all panel pet doors except custom doors. However, please be alert to two specific problem areas:
First, a few customers have applied the weather-strip to the edge of the panel before deciding that they really want it. When those panels are returned, it takes a considerable amount of labor in manufacturing to remove that weather-strip. In some cases, the panel have to be completely rebuilt. These costs will be deducted from your refund or; if the damage is severe, the return may not be accepted.
Second, note that some manufacturers impose a restocking charge (we don't on the pet doors that we manufacture). You can check this out in advance by reading "pet door manufacturer re-stocking fees". Please remember that we have no control over these charges.
Patio Pacific Panels Come in Three Standard Adjustment Ranges Plus Custom Heights
Q - What height adjustment ranges and trim colors are available?
A - Patio pet door manufacturers usually offer white, bronze (a very dark brown that is almost black looking, especially in room light) and brushed aluminum. In some cases the offering is white only and sometimes there may be an additional color like tan or black.
Panel pet doors are offered in various height adjustment ranges and the single most important problem is to be sure that your track height is in the adjustment range of the panel pet door you're considering. You measure inside the sliding glass door track, very top to very bottom. When measuring, don't do it all at once. If you do, the top of the tape will be curving and hard to read where it ends. Instead, measure inside the top track down to a convenient height--say 2 feet--and make a pencil line. Then measure up from the bottom track to that line and add. This method is extremely accurate. Height adjustment ranges will be shown on the product page for each of these patio pet doors.
A Note of Caution
Even though your measurement falls within the adjustment range of the pet door panel you have chosen, you could still have a problem if you are at the shorter end of that range. You will probably require some clearance to get the pet door up and over the track wall at the bottom and into the track!
You should measure the height of the lowest track wall at the bottom (usually the outside). You'll need enough compression to clear that height. Please call our customer service department if you have any question about this. Some pet door panels have special provision for decreasing or increasing the adjustment range a small amount (about 3/4") on the job site anti-whoops!. This feature can save having to ship the pet door back in case of a small measurement error.
Q - Will bugs be able to come through?
A - You can still get ventilation with a glass track installation by opening the sliding glass door and bringing the screen up even with the pet door. But how do you stop a bug from flying in between the screen and the pet panel?
The best solution to this problem is the Bug Warden which was specifically designed by a Southern Califonia engineer. These can be purchased individually and are sometimes available at a discount with the purchase of selected patio pet doors..
The Dreaded "Bug Gap"
Pin Lock Line Drawing
A "Charley Bar"
Where to Measure on your Sliding Glass Door
Q - How will I lock up my house?
A - There are numerous methods for locking your house when using a patio pet door panel:
1. Those panel pet doors designed for a semi-permanent installation only will have a lock built into the pet door that you will use instead of the lock on your sliding glass door. That lock will engage a bracket mounted on your sliding glass door above your existing lock and locks the sliding door to the pet door. This system requires that the pet door be fastened semi-permanently in place.
2. A second approach is to use a pin lock, c-clamp lock or dead-bolt lock to lock the glass door against the pet door. These can be used for both temporary and semi-permanent types of installations and are extremely effective. Note that pin locks are most readily used when the sliding panel is on the inside track. If it is on the outside track (an uncommon situation), it may be easier to install a threshold mount dead-bolt type lock. These are available from us in the Flaps and Parts->Accessories section but also in any local hardware.
3. Some very specialized patio pet doors will actually mate to the lock on your sliding glass door.
4. A great idea is to use a 'Charley Bar'. The Charley Bar mounts behind the sliding glass door on the jamb and locks the sliding glass door against the pet door. You don't need a pet door to use a Charley Bar. They're frequently used just to improve the security of a sliding glass door. When used with a pet door, the Charley Bar has an important added benefit. The pressure applied is near the center of the sliding glass door which results in more even pressure between the sliding door and the pet door. This, in turn, helps make a tighter seal between the two and reduces the chance of a leak.
A Thermo Panel IIIe built Custom Height Undersize to fit a sideways sliding window
A Pet Door Designed for a Sash Window
Q - Will the sliding door still accommodate you?
A - After fitting your pet, be sure the remaining opening in your sliding door fits you. If it's tight, look for a panel with a higher aspect ratio for the flap. For example, why get a 14" x 23" flap if your pet can easily use a 12" x 23"? You just saved two inches. Or you can put a pet door directly through the glass of your sliding glass door: See Pet Doors "Through The Glass" Category Page..
Q - Is this for a sliding window?
A - A sideways sliding window is just like a sliding glass door but shorter. So you'll be purchasing a panel pet door built 'custom height undersize'.
Two things to remember: First, you must measure the width of your window track. It may not be wide enough to accept the panel. If you measure less than 1" call our customer service department with an exact measurement to consult about this.
Secondly, the height you are specifying will be unusual enough that it must be a final sale--no return after manufacture. You will find these undersized units at the For Windows category page.
Custom height orders must be in writing. Easiest way is to order directly from the web site.
If your window slides up and down then you'll want a pet door for a sash window which is designed for that specific window type. A number of models are available at the For Windows category page.
Q - My sliding glass door has 2 sliders. Do you have any patio panels inserts that will work for this type of door?
A - You can install the Thermo Panel IIIe in this type of sliding door. However one of your sliding doors will have to be made stationary.