Re-Aligning Your Door
We have always been advocates of getting to the root of the problem rather than to what seems to be the most obvious reason for a given difficulty. For instance, with sticking doors, we have always been quick to suggest adjusting the floor and thereby re-aligning the door. That’s because doors rarely move in their opening. Sure, you can count on loose or stripped hinge screws — once in a while. But door and frame shift usually result from house movement.
Having said that, we must admit that we have found that most folks don’t have the time, experience or money to perform a floor adjustment (even a minor one) in order to prevent a door from rubbing or sticking.
What most folks do seem to consider practical is making minor adjustments to doors and windows that will restore them to operational status.
How do we feel about that? Why fight city hall? And why not help to insure that the repair techniques used will help to insure a top notch result.
First, always check the hinges. A loose hinge can cause a door to shift in the opening and jamb so hard that it takes two hands to open the door. To find out if a hinge is the culprit open the door slightly—about an inch or so. Grip the door at the knob and apply alternating upward and downward pressure. At the same time have someone observing the hinges to see if there is movement between the hinge and the door or frame. Even the slightest motion at the hinge can cause a door to stick.
Repairing a loose hinge is really easy. Sometimes a repair is as simple as tightening the screws. More often though, screw holes are stripped. This requires the use of longer screws or necessitates repairing the screw holes. Longer screws are easier to use than fixing the stripped screw holes.
There is a special problem with the screws that hold a hinge to the door frame. Only one or two of them (depends on hinge style) can be fixed with longer screws. That’s because the screws nearest the hinge pin normally align with the wallboard. And wallboard has little or no holding power. If the screws at this location are loose then the proper repair would be to mend the screw holes.
If you are a regular reader of our column then you know that this means filling the screw holes with toothpicks soaked in wood glue. Stuff the toothpicks in the holes, break off the excess length and wait for the glue to dry. CAUTION: This repair will not work if the glue remains wet. Finally, reuse the old screw for a like-new bond. This repair is easier if the hinge is removed. But, removal is not required.
Another method. If a gap exists at the hinge side of the door (opposite the location where the rubbing is occurring) then bending the hinge to move the door can save the mess and work that results when a sander or plane is used. It’s easy. Remove the pin from the hinge opposite the rub. Using a small crescent wrench, bend the wrungs on the hinge connected to the door frame in the direction that you want the door to be moved — BEND FRAME WRUNGS AWAY FROM THE RUB. Alternatively, you can bend the wrung of the hinge attached to the door toward the rub — BEND DOOR WRUNGS TOWARD THE RUB. There is room for error here. Be careful! With cheap doors, attempting to bend the hinge wrungs could actually rip the hinge and the screws off of the door.
Sanding, planing or shaving the door edge should only be done when the hinges can’t be adjusted to facilitate a repair. Unfortunately, sanding or planing is frequently the prescribed repair. Which ever repair you choose, be prepared to deal with it again as seasons change and as your home slowly settles into a different place.
For more home improvement tips and information search our website or call our listener line any time at 1-800-737-2474! All you need to do is leave your name, telephone number and your question.