How much can a wooden door swell?


How much can a wooden door swell? Do I have to wait until it shrinks again? It's never been anywhere near this bad before in the last 15 or more years.
A friend has a wood front door, a panel door I think it is called, with six approximately 7x10" inch, whatever the standard size is, panes of glass in the top half, and I think decorative wood in the bottom, with the strong parts of the door being the two sides, top, bottom, and the middle horizontal part.
Last week she saw water coming from the top of the door frame. The water has stopped, and the top of the door doesn't feel wet, but the door now rubs at the top and something is also keeping it from shutting, the last 3/8ths of an inch.
She's tempted to have me plane the top of the door, esp. near the hinges, but though it scrapes there, it bothers me more that the side away from the hinges won't shut all the way, stops dead 3/8" away, even when I push hard on it.
If it has swollen, how long will it take to shrink again with 50% humidity these days in Baltimore?
The roof is only 3 years old and looks fine from the outside. It's a 40 or so year old house. The eaves are about 16", with aluminimum soffits with periodic groups of holes for attic air ventilation. I myself can't get up in the attic. I'm fat but it's my rib cage that won't get through the small hole, and it's barely any fatter than it ever was. (At most one inch thicker from front to back than if I were thin. I still have plenty of room to get up my own attic hole.)
Any helpful advice is much appreciated.
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The problem isn't the door, its the water leak. Get help if you need it, but the leak absolutely has to be stopped. Suggested places for such leaks are flashing, clogged gutters, etc. Once that is corrected, the door/frame may slowly revive and stabilize enough to consider the best next step. Good luck.
Joe
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Speaking of flashing, is there supposed to be something under the tar paper near the edge of the roof? Or over the tar paper and under the shingles? Is that for rain or for ice dams? If the shingles are all perfect, and it's late summer with no ice, but the dripping was last week, could the absence of this "flashing" be the problem?

I'll tell her to check the gutters. She may get me to do it. :)

I really wish I could get up in the attic. Not for her sake but because I'm always so curious. I don't know why they made the hole so small. I'm sure she won't let me enlarge it, because she has a thin friend who has actually made it through the hole.

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mm wrote:

It could be the ridge vent! That is, water runs downhill, so anywhere above the door is suspect.
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wrote:

I'll tell her. Thanks.

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mm wrote:

It may be time for a new door, after the leak is corrected. It sounds like the door is warped, which is quite different than just "swelled". A normal amount of expansion can take place with temp and humdity change, but that would not seem to cause the door to fail to shut 3/8" away from frames. Planing would not help WARP. Floating panels are easy ways for water to get into the rails and stiles, which are slotted to hold the panel and would not have finish. Sounds like an interior door? Wood can be unwarped, but it is tricky and I can't imagine trying to do so on a paneled door.
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On Sun, 13 Sep 2009 14:39:03 -0400, " snipped-for-privacy@earthlink.net"

Thanks to you and Joe.
Joe, the gutters are a good idea. Somone will have to check them.

Okay.
Yes, I forgot to say that, but when the door latch can almost latch, the higher part of the door is even farther from being shut.

No. It's definitely meant to be an outside door, and it's been functioning well for at least the 15 or 20 years she's been there.
A few months ago she had an episode where she couldn't turn the knob enough from the outside, but it was easy enough for me, and it's a benchmark that it was latching then. (Well, it was latching until 2 days ago.)
I don't know if the prior owners used this door or not. It's got a storm door in front of it it now. She didn't even replace the glass with screens this summer, so it didn't get wet from the front. (maybe because she has plenty of windows, or remembering what the rest of the country is like, more likely because she uses AC.)

When it rains, it pours. On her, this time.
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Doors do swell unless they are painted on the top and bottom. You can trim an 1/8" off the top of the door or you might try loosening the hinges a bit temporarily to let the door sag a bit until it dries and shrinks and then paint the top of the door.
--
Roger Shoaf
If you are not part of the solution, you are not dissolved in the solvent.
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Wood doors can swell quite a bit with high humidity.
The *secret* of professional painters to prevent this is to paint the top and bottom of the door. So when it gets back down to size, take it off the hinges and paint the top/bottom.
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Here's a secret for the secret of professional painters. Use PRIMER on door tops. That's what primer is for. Sealing and adhesion. In this case the sealing of it is what's needed. Paint afterwards if desired.
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