What causes warped entry door?

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This house had a double wooden entry door, each door being about 40" wide. One is rarely used; the other is for everyday use. The everyday door is bowed at the latch side toward the inside of the house by about 1/8-3/16". (The hinge side is okay.) So to engage the latch and deadbolts into their strike plates, one must push the lock area really hard toward the outdoors or slam the door closed hard.
The first thing I will try doing is repositioning the door stops. I've read several methods for reversing the warp, and may try one of those measures.
The real question is why should just one of the doors warp? Both are exposed to the same temperature differentials. Both doors have outer storm doors with glass panels during New Jersey's winter season. The colors on both sides of both doors match, but I can't guarantee that both sides of both doors are painted with the same type paint (latex vs. oil). The house was built in 1993.
R1
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On 4/18/2012 1:59 PM, Rebel1 wrote:

...
Assuming "wooden" means solid wood (as opposed to veneered MDF, etc., alternate construction) any number of possibilities, virtually all centering around moisture and movement of same.
It's possible the one wasn't as well-selected piece of stock originally as the other so there's more grain to deal with (ideal would be quartersawn as opposed to plainsawn); that's the luck of the draw and how well the doors are built originally.
More than likely there is a difference in whether the top/bottoms have also been finished, how much wear of that finish at the bottom, say, from the threshold has removed the finish and then allowed moisture a way in preferentially. Also, the side that is used also probably does get more direct impact from what weather there is as the storm on that side will be opened much more often to allow same; over a period of time that may have had an accumulative effect as well.
Is there any change in the amount w/ seasons, weather, etc.? That would be dead giveaway you do have a moisture penetration problem.
A differential in the amount of direct sun owing to shading of one side preferentially because of direction facing, etc, could also be a factor.
--
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On 4/18/2012 3:46 PM, dpb wrote:

You raised good points. All I can really be certain of is that it isn't steel-clad. Can't say anything about the finer points you raised.

Another excellent point. The active door has a weather seal across the bottom that also covers the whole thickness of the door, so I can't see if the bottom edge is finished. Actually, the door is about 1/16 inch too long, causing the weather seal to rub too tightly along the threshold even as the door just starts to close from the fully open position. While an unfinished bottom might have allowed the moisture entry that contributed to the warp, the rubbing of the seal is still a separate problem. If I take the door off and try to reverse the warp, I will belt-sand the bottom by 1/16" and refinish that edge.
All the screws that hold the wooden threshold to the floor have damaged heads, like when you damage a phillips-head screw by over-tightening using a bad bit. Probably someone's attempt to deal with insufficient clearance. Maybe I'll just try to find a thinner threshold that's prefinished to match the existing one. But if I take the door off, I will definitely check the bottom for an appropriate finish.
Would moisture entry through the bottom cause bowing at the height of the locks, rather than closer to the bottom?

I've been dating the mother of the owner for several years. She goes over the house every day to clean. She says the problem just recently started.

The doors face directly east.
Thanks for the insights.
R1
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In my original post, I asked:

At a more basic level, the warped door is in its closed, locked position almost 100% of the time, with usual entry/exit via a car in the garage. So why didn't whatever force that caused the main door to warp (be it moisture or the quality or cut of the wood) get transferred via the lock and deadbolt to the mating entry door, which is rarely opened, and cause it to warp an equal amount?
Someone suggested that moisture entering via an unfinished bottom edge could contribute to the warping. If so, why wouldn't the warp occur near the bottom, which isn't restrained by the adjacent door the way the lock area is?
To install a lockset and deadbolt requires mortising into the lock stiles of both doors. I've never seen these recesses finished. Seems far-fetched, but this could be the entry source of moisture if in fact moisture is the cause.
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On 4/19/2012 8:07 AM, Rebel1 wrote:

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I was the one that suggested that was one place for an entry of unbalanced moisture entry. As for the "why" in your follow-up, I can't see your door from here to try to analyze specifically. :)
For example, I don't even know the warp is actually in the middle (and I sorta' expect it isn't, or at least all) but is actually spread along the length and just shows up at the lockset owing to needing the extra force to take out some of the twist/bow/warp to close the door against the stop of the other door.
Pictures and measurements might help but it's one of those things that from afar is very, very hard to diagnose specifics altho general characteristics are able to be outlined. In general, a movement in wood after some period of time is going to be owing to a change in relative moisture and/or combined w/ temperature that causes either an increase or decrease from a prior equilibrium condition.
You didn't do something like add a kickplate or somesuch relatively recently by any chance?
Has it been exceptionally humid or dry or other weather extremes? Or have you added/modified the HVAC in the house that would either make it much more or less (hopefully not) weathertight or change the RH significantly (add humidifier over the winter or somesuch, say)?
It's also _possible_ that the problem is that there has been some shifting in the door frame that has introduced some twist into the opening that is apparent as the one door appearing warped relative to the other.
--
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On 4/19/2012 10:58 AM, dpb wrote:

Yes, the warp is gradual, being greatest in the lock area. I'll take pictures when I next see the door Sunday night. And I'll take a 4' level to examine the bow more carefully.

No.
Here in NJ, we've had a very mild winter. Snow on Halloween, and only one more snowfall since them.

No.
Another excellent possibility. I'll take my 24" x 16" square with me Sunday night to check squareness.
Thanks for the excellent insights.
R1
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On 4/19/2012 11:18 AM, Rebel1 wrote:

...
...
All of those were more or less rhetorical questions to instigate the thought process of what may/may not be a difference. Hopefully they'll trigger more from your end based on being there as opposed to here.
You'll need much longer straight edge than those to determine the out-of-plane condition unless it is really marked--you said the two doors are _each_ greater than a 3-0 so the opening will be a minimum pushing 7-ft. Plus you have to deal w/ whatever the door frame/baseboard, etc., are to get to a consistent measuring point to see if the two are in plane or not. The easiest way to do that is w/ the crossed strings method.
--
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re: "And I'll take a 4' level to examine the bow more carefully."
4'? Wimp! Get a real level. ;-)
Seriously, you might want to use a 6' level since the door is probably close to 80". The longest straightedge you can use will give you a more accurate assessment of where and how much the door is warped.
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On 4/19/2012 12:35 PM, DerbyDad03 wrote:
...

Indeed a 4 is likely only marginally useful here. Given that these were said to be >3-0 in width in a double entry, one can guess they may be full 7-0 or even taller in height.
The string method--attach near corner at bottom and stretch over the top on the concave side will clearly reveal a longitudinal bow if it exists. Working from one end to the other at the end will allow to see partials as well.
--
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On 4/19/2012 1:55 PM, dpb wrote:

I'm not going to buy a longer level just for this problem, so I'll try the string method. I'll be away from my computer from Sunday night until Tuesday morning; then I'll report the results and post photos.
Again, thanks to all for the tips.
R1
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On 4/19/2012 1:18 PM, Rebel1 wrote:

By the by, if the door is twisted, the above may not clearly indicate a linear (or very nearly so) twist. To see if the door itself is essentially a twisted plane w/o taking it off to use winding sticks where can eyeball them horizontally the crossed strings at a fixed distance from each corner can determine if the door is coplaner or not just as they mentioned above in the opening to see if it's the opening that is at fault and you're forcing the door to match.
"Squareness" isn't an issue from what you've described and the square isn't going to tell you anything useful as the last note.
--
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Was the warpage from the early times, or more recent, or don't you know (not original owner)?
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On 4/18/2012 4:26 PM, hr(bob) snipped-for-privacy@att.net wrote:

The problem with hard-to-latch doors started just recently (past month or two). The house was built in 1993, but present owner bought it in 1999. He's single, so there's not a lot of activity (no kids or wild parties)in the house. He mainly uses the garage as the entry/exit, as the house is on a cul-de-sac and several miles from commercial businesses.
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How do you know that the door is actually "bowed" as opposed to just not closing properly?
I'm not doubting you, just curious as to whether you've put a sraight edge on it and know for sure that it is bowed. Maybe there's a hinge, threshhold or stop problem.
Just asking...don't take it personal. ;-)
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On 4/18/2012 4:30 PM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

By eye. I just looked at how the two doors line up at the top and bottom. They are in the same plane. At the center, one is clearly bowed in. I didn't actually use a straight edge.
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Your house was built with contractor grade doors, now reaching their terminal expected life. Such products are subject to all of the problems that lower quality millwork exhibits, for reasons well described in posts above. It is futile to worry about it, just accept the fact that if you want something better, start shopping now for the replacements that will meet your requirements. There are better door systems these days other than wood which are very attractive. Fiberglass is an excellent choice for superior performance and appearance. It is highly likely that one of those will be your best choice.
Joe
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On 4/18/2012 7:40 PM, Joe wrote:

Joe,
Good tip for replacement door, if the owner decides to go that way. It would seem a shame to also replace the good door, but may be necessary to preserve the matched look.
R1
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On 4/18/2012 2:59 PM, Rebel1 wrote:

I went back to the house Monday, April 23, intending to photograph the door and post the photos. Oddly, everything changed over the weekend, during which it rained close to 2.5" starting Saturday night and continuing well into Sunday.
The door no longer bowed inward at the lock area by 1/8-3/16". Now the bow was only about 1/16", and the locks clicked into their strike plates fairly easily. The top of the door, which had been flush with the mating, rarely used door, was now twisted a bit _away_ from the house interior, and the bottom of the door, which also had been flush with the adjacent door, now bowed toward the _inside_ of the house.
Apparently the 24 hours of very high humidity had the effect of somewhat straightening the lock edge of the door, while at the same time adding a somewhat uniform top-to-bottom twist to that edge.
Odd thing, an identical house one block away doesn't suffer from any of these problems. The conspicuous difference is that the problem house gets morning sun on its doors, while the other one gets afternoon sun. But as one poster suggested, might have something to do with the cut of the wood used in the stiles and rails.
My plan now is to wait for a period of several dry days, put the door on saw horses, weigh the bowed/twisted places until everything is planar, then paint it with an oil-based paint for moisture immunity. This is tricky, since when the weights are removed the door will tend back to the bowed/twisted position, forcing trial and error for maybe days and leaving the house with an unsecured entrance.
Probably easier to replace it, if it's available by itself without the adjacent door.
R1
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If you can temporarily block the entrance for a few days/weeks Remove the door while it's damp But it on blocks and weigh it down and set it out to dry in the sun That should set the new alignment much better than if you do it with the door dry.
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On 4/26/2012 9:50 AM, Attila.Iskander wrote: ...

Keep the frickin' weight off it; it won't do a lick of good in the long run.
If it was straight when it was dry initially (as OP indicated) it'll return to that condition when moisture equilibriates. At _THAT_ point, _then_ (and only then) can do some potential good w/ a refinish of all sides. Otherwise, it will just continue to move as moisture moves from the equilibrium point.
BTW, trying to dry it in direct sun will likely be the worst thing you can try; it'll really accentuate the rate of moisture removal preferentially which is _not_ what you want to do. A uniform, dry area of moderately warm temperature w/ the door in a neutral support position would be ideal.
--
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