In trying to figure out why my dad's back door won't open anymore
without a tremendous amount of effort, the best theory i can come up
with is that since it's in a small laundry room where there was some
water overflow last fall (not long before I noticed the sticking
begin), the sill under the metal threshold may have gotten wet and
expanded. The sticking definitely seems to be focused down there.
This raises some questions. First, does this sound like a reasonable
If I cut out the sill and replace it, I'm worried that this will screw
up the door frame geometry, potentially causing more problems in the
long run. Should I be? It's a pre-hung door, and I'm not sure how
stable the framing is when it loses a chord.
Is it worth simply altering or replacing the threshold in some way
If the threshold got wet last year it would probably have dried out by
now, especially over the winter. You need to do more diagnosis before
you stop fixing things.
Open the door at least 45 degrees, stand at the inside end of the door
so you can see the hinges, particularly the top hinge. Lift up on the
door knobs and see if the hinge barrel or one of the hinge leaves
moves. If it does, the screws holding the hinge may have stripped.
Try tightening the screws. You may have to remove the screws that
don't have enough bite, insert slivers of wood (toothpicks work well)
with a little glue, cut off the wood that projects from the hole, then
reinstall the screws. You should do this as the first step regardless
of the cause. If the hinges are loose you won't be able to accurately
diagnose other problems.
Lie down on the floor and open and close the door just a bit to see
where the door is binding. If it is binding is primarily at the latch
end of the door you can pack out the bottom hinge (and sometimes the
middle hinge with half the thickness of packing of the bottom hinge).
Prop up the door on some shims, remove the screws from the bottom
hinge jamb leaf, cut a piece of thin cardboard (think matchbook
thickness to start) to fit behind the hinge leaf, then reinstall and
tighten the screws. This will also help with latch side gaps between
the door and jamb that are wider at the bottom then the top.
If the binding is in the middle of the door at the threshold, either
the door moved (fairly severe rot at the studs framing the door rough
opening, or poorly installed to begin with) or the threshold has moved
(long term swelling from water is a bit unlikely, poorly fastened
threshold is more probable). Do the same thing with the threshold
screws to see if you can tighten the metal threshold down some more.
If you have interlocking weatherstripping, the interlock might have
gotten crumpled and is now interfering with the door operation.
Examine all weatherstripping to make sure it's not getting in the way.
Look for rub spots on the paint where the door and jamb touch. If the
door is wood, you may have to plane down an edge to remove the
interference. If the door is metal it's a little more involved, but
you'll have to diagnose what's causing the problem before you can
Thanks, this and the other comments will give me good places to start
when I go there this weekend. It is a metal door, unfortunately, so
planing isn't an option, but I'll give the hinges a closer look. It's
been a while so I don't remember how they looked last time. I also
don't remember the results of checking for plumb and square, but
unfortunately all that's at my disposal is a four-foot level. I'll
just have to do the best I can with what I have.
Yikes! That may be significantly more difficult!
Even more important to find out *exactly* where it's binding.
Closing the door on a simple sheet of thin paper is generally
the easiest way to do that. If the paper will slide out,
it's okay. If the paper won't move -- you've found the spot.
| Malcolm Hoar "The more I practice, the luckier I get". |
You can use a plumb bob instead of a long level. A fair number of
carpenters prefer to hang doors using a plumb bob. It gets you plumb
in both directions with one foolproof tool.
First thing is to eyeball the gap between the door and jamb all around
the perimeter of the door. Each side's gap should be pretty much
parallel and uniform. Next thing is to manhandle the door and frame.
Hackenters have been known to cut corners installing prehung doors,
and some problems don't show up right away.
Let us know what you discover.
After spending the better part of an afternoon first fixing some
looseness in the casing, then futilely considering how to raise the
whole damn thing a quarter-inch, I discovered that it was simply
hardening of the rubber weatherstripping at the bottom of the door.
Frost King makes a replacement door bottom with stripping specifically
for Stanley doors like this one, and it was simple to cut to size, pop
it in with a rubber mallet (it attaches via barbed ribs in slots), and
add a couple of staples on each end for good measure.
Thanks to all for your tips. I am happy it ended up easier than most
Yeah, but just think how easy the next sticking door will be for you to
fix, now that you know them inside and out. Knowledge gained the hard
way is knowledge retained. BTDT many a time- spend hours and then have a
eureka moment, and the fix turns out to be trivial.
On Wed, 22 Apr 2009 06:18:22 -0700 (PDT), Pete from Boston
Check the hinge side of the frame with a level and framing square.
A 6' level.. Checking for plumb and square. Check the latch side in
the same way. A longer hinge screw (through the jamb into the stud) in
the middle would pull the frame in and raise the bottom of the door.
Or, it may need a longer screw at the top hinge.
Rico made excellent comments.
You've had some good advice but I notice one point that has not been picked
"since it's in a small laundry room"
Is this a constant source of humidity? If so, then the issue could be
ongoing. More ventilation - opening a window at times? Installation of a
Note the introductory clause...
>> ...there was some water overflow last fall (not long before I
noticed >> the sticking begin)...
If this hadn't happened nearly coincident w/ the actual water itself
that would make sense but since it seems from OP's description to have
followed an actual spill it doesn't seem likely it's simply ongoing
I'd venture it's a particle board-type underlayment/subflooring and it
did what that stuff always does when it gets wet--it expanded
significantly thereby raising the threshold.
The suggestions to makes sure the door itself isn't loose on the hinges
or otherwise the culprit are good, but assuming that isn't the case, the
simple fix is to simply trim the door.
If it's not been very long, it's possible a dehumidifier might help
finish drying it out but I'm gathering this has been some period of
months already since the incident so think it doubtful that would really
make any significant difference at this point.
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