Door frames changing shape - advice please

We have lived in our detached 4 bedroom house for over 30 years. It was
built in 1969. The house is of standard brick construction with (presumably)
breeze block interior dividing walls. The house is built on firm ground and
there is no evidence of any subsidence.
Now for the problem. Three of the doorframes on the first floor have, over
several years, become distorted to the extent that the doors will not fit
properly. To be specific, one vertical member of each of the frames has
progressively dropped by up to 1cm forcing the frame into a parallelogram
shape. Closer inspection reveals that the floor beneath each of the said
frame verticals has dropped by about the same amount. I believe the floor to
be of standard construction with joists bearing on masonry.
Over the years I have adjusted the doors and hinges so that the doors will
close, and I have assumed that the problem was due to normal settlement.
What has prompted this post is a sudden change of several mm on one of the
frames which makes me wonder if something more sinister is going on.
It would appear that, although there is no ground floor subsidence, there is
an apparent 'subsidence' between the first and ground floors.
I have checked with my buildings insurance and have been told that this kind
of problem is not covered.
My dilemma is whether (a) to get some 'professional' advice? or (b) to
ignore the problem and continue to adjust the doors as required?
Where would you suggest I look for an appropriate 'professional'?
All comments/advice will be read with interest.
Reply to
Malcolm H
I would do (c) have a look myself. With the floorboards up, have a good look around. There must be some other evidence of what is happening. Any cracks around joists where they enter the wall etc ? Simon.
Reply to
sm_jamieson
The only similar problem I have seen was where the joists came in from the masonry walls at either side if the property and rested on a central wooden beam, to make the downstairs more open-plan. The spec was for a 12" x 12" beam AFAICR and the builder had fitted 10x10 or even 10x8. A few years after build there was a 1" gap between the upstairs walls and the floor in all the houses. Is there masonry directly under these doors? If so there should be some other signs of sunsidence, if not, I would suspect under-spec joisting.
Reply to
Bob Mannix
Pictures posted to a web page online and linked to in this thread. Show outside the house too so we can see what the construction is. Also what sort of other damage might have occurred.
It might just be a problem with the frame or the door. 1969 was a bad year for doors (or am I thinking of 79?) They suddenly invented dowelled joints instead of mortice and tennons.
If the floor is upstairs the walls might have risen. (This is going to be a humungous problem over the next few years.)
I doubt it is what has happened to you though. The roof flaps up and down in windy weather and takes the stud-work with it. Over a few years if it wasn't anchored down, the walls are an half inch or more higher than the floor.
Modern studding is lucky to get a couple of 4" nails into the chipboard on most modern crapware. Building ideas really are god-awful these days.
Reply to
Weatherlawyer
On 4 Jan,
That has caused gaps under the door frames and skirting boards around my upstairs rooms, as the joists have dried out. I get the impression they had stood outside in monsoon weather as the house was built. A single joist spans the centre of the house and has the rest of the floor joists resting on it. In addition to shrinking it has bowed, leaving a gap of about 2cm below the skirting in the centre of the stud wall above. I filled this gap about 15 years ago and it has been stable since.
I wonder if the heatng pattern of the OP has changed recently, resulting in changes to moisture content in the timbers?
Reply to
<me9
The message from "Malcolm H" contains these words:
I am having some difficulty visualising a construction where that sort of thing could happen without there being sagging floorboards elsewhere and even the descending side of the doorframe is odd. Doorframes are traditionally nailed through to the wall, either into wedges between blocks or straight into the blocks themselves if they are the soft variety.
So can you confirm that the upstairs interior walls are indeed solid block and sit directly above the downstairs walls (as would normally be expected with block walls), and say a) which way the floorboards run in each doorway and b) whether the side that is sinking is the hinge side or the handle side in each case.
I can't guarantee a solution but without additional information I am completely stumped.
Reply to
Roger
Hello Roger and thank you (and others) for your questions. I will try to answer them with the help of four pictures whch can be seen here:
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1 shows two adjacent doors on the first floor where the inner frame uprights have dropped about 1cm. The spirit level is straight (the curved coving is spherical aberration of the camera lens!). Picture 2 shows the lower parts of the doors and the floor which is also deflected by about 1cm at the centre between the doors.
Picture 3 shows the downstairs wall immediately below the two upstairs doors. The bottom of the upstairs two inner frame uprights is over the middle of the downstairs door frame. No subsidence or deformation of anything is visible downstairs.
Picture 4 was taken from the halfway stair landing. The two upstairs doors can be seen between the horizontal rails with the downstairs door immediately beneath.
All interior walls are indeed solid but I don't know how the frames are secured. I can't see any nails. The sinking side for both doors shown is the hinge side and the floorboards run in a direction parallel to the closed doors. Not shown in these pictures is a third door with a sinking frame side, but this one is on the handle side!
I look forward to your comments with interest
Malcolm H
Reply to
Malcolm H
On 4 Jan,
The wall between the two doors does not appear to be above a downstairs wall, is it solid, and how is it supported?
It looks as if the wall (and frames) between the doors has sagged by the amount the floor would have sunk with shrinkage. If that wall is built up from a wooden joist that is likely to be the cause. If on a steel, then that scenario is unlikely. More details of the other door may help to elucidate the problem.
Reply to
<me9
The message from "Malcolm H" contains these words:
It's getting late but ISTM that the section between the doors shown in pictures 1 and 2 is too narrow to be block so is probably a wooden pillar so the possibility exists that whatever bodge was used to support the bottom of the pillar has collapsed (if indeed there was anything there other than the floorboard in the first place) and the weight of the block wall above the door is driving the pillar downwards against the support only of a flexing floorboard.
I think you need to take up an adjacent floorboard or two and see what's what. I didn't consider the 2 door configeration in my original response but an inadequately supported pillar seems about the only option that fits the facts.
Reply to
Roger
The floorboards tell us one thing - the direction of the joists. The wall upstairs must be built over a single joist (or hopefully a pair of joists nailed together). It could simply be this is sagging with time. It may be what it is bearing on is failing, or it could be shrinkage of the joist from rot of some sort.
Having a couple of floorboards up on the landing for a look around will tell you more.
Reply to
John Rumm
It looks to me as though the central pillar which carries both sets of hinges is not properly supported underneath. It possibly just rests on the floorboards rather than being integral with the wall. I'm a bit puzzled about the joists and floorboards though. If the floorboards are parallel to the two closed doors then the joists must run perpendicular to them i.e. through that wall or ending at it if it's a supporting wall.
I think you need to work out which are your supporting walls and which aren't, where all the joists are and what that door frame is built on.
Reply to
Dave Baker
Actually that central pillar might not rest on anything. A single door frame obviously doesn't have anything underneath it. The side frames are nailed to the wall and one of those carries the weight of the door. Your case with a double door with the hinges in the centre is a bit unusual because it means there has to be a supported central pillar carrying the weight. If the hinges were both moved to the sides then the central pillar doesn't take any load. I'm wondering if the doors should have hung the other way but the builder didn't realise that.
Is the third door you're having a problem with a single one or a double like this one?
Reply to
Dave Baker
The message from contains these words:
FWIW I think it is and my comments were made on that basis.
Reply to
Roger
Thank you all for your helpful responses.
My conclusion is that the joists in the loft are inadequate and sagging. This increases top loading on inadequate dividing walls causing cracking (which I forgot to mention). The cracked sections of the dividing wall then apply top loading to the door frames thereby causing the problem. I don't believe that any practical solution short of total destruction and rebuild is possible, I shall therefore live with it!
I believe the builder in 1969 was in financial difficulties and was probably trying to economise.
Reply to
Malcolm H

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