Sticking Door? Some Fixes Are Easy to Do


We are advocates of getting to the root of a problem. For instance, with sticking doors, we’ve suggested adjusting the floor to realign a door. That’s because doors rarely move in their opening. Loose or stripped hinge screws are the cause once in a while, but door and frame shifts usually result from house movement.

Having said that, we must admit that we have found that most folks don’t have the time, experience, inclination or money to perform a floor adjustment, even a minor one--at least not for the purpose of preventing a door from rubbing or sticking. Most folks prefer to make minor adjustments to doors and windows that restore them to operational status. The door repairs we suggest apply to most hinged windows as well.

First, check the hinges. A loose hinge can cause a door to shift in the opening and bind so tightly 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 upward, then downward, pressure. At the same time have someone observe the hinges at the pin side to see if there is movement between the hinge and the door or frame. Even the slightest motion at a hinge can cause a door to stick.


Repairing a loose hinge is easy. Sometimes the repair is as simple as tightening the screws. More often though, the screw holes are stripped. This requires the use of longer screws or repair of the screw holes. Using longer screws is an easier solution than fixing the stripped holes.

There is a special problem associated with screws that hold a hinge to the door frame. Only one or two of them, depending on the hinge style, can be replaced with longer screws. The reason for this is that the screws nearest the hinge pin normally align with the wallboard. Wallboard has little or no holding power. If the screws at this location are loose, the proper repair is to mend the screw holes.

This repair involves 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 screws are reinstalled while 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 essential.

There’s another method. If a gap exists at the hinge side of the door--opposite the location where the rubbing is occurring--try bending the hinge to move the door. This 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 rungs on the hinge connected to the door frame in the direction that you want the door to be moved, bending the frame rungs away from the rub.

Alternatively, you can bend the rung of the hinge attached to the door toward the rub, bending the door rungs toward the rub. There is potential for error here. Be careful. With cheap doors, attempting to bend the hinge rungs could actually rip the hinge and the screws off the door.

Sanding, planing or shaving the door edge should be undertaken only when the hinges can’t be adjusted. Unfortunately, sanding or planing is frequently the prescribed repair. Whatever repair you choose, be prepared to deal with it again as seasons change and as your home slowly settles into a different position.


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