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Door Trouble Might Hinge on Door Itself

May 03, 1997|From Associated Press

If a door won't open and close properly, the source of the problem may be the door itself--the hinges, the latch or the frame.

If a door is badly deformed, replace it. Minor warping can sometimes be corrected by adding another hinge.

If the house's settling has pushed the door's frame--or jambs--out of square, the door can often be planed or trimmed to fit the new shape. You may need to call in a professional to repair--or replace--a metal door with a warped frame.

Hinge-related repairs are easier to make. Check them first. Look for hinge screws that have worked loose or that are turning in their holes without gripping. Plug an enlarged screw hole with a glue-coated wooden golf tee or dowel, or use matchsticks or toothpicks.

When the glue is dry, trim the plug flush. Then drill a pilot hole and insert the screw. For a hole that's only slightly enlarged, drill a pilot hole going through the jamb into the stud behind it. Insert a longer screw.

Here are some other trouble-shooting tips:

* If the door rubs at the top or bottom corner, check and tighten loose hinge screws. Or place a thin piece of wood or cardboard behind a hinge leaf on the jamb. Do it on the hinge that is closest to the rubbing area.

* Humid weather can cause a door to stick because the wood under the paint swells. Wait until you've had a few days of dry weather. Then lightly sand the door edges and jambs. If necessary, sand down to the bare wood, then prime and repaint the edges. If the sticking is severe, you may have to plane the door edges.

* Saw the bottom of the door to fit if it won't clear new flooring or carpeting. Score the cut line with a utility knife to keep the veneer from chipping.

Sawing the bottom of a hollow-core door may expose a cavity; fill it with the frame board in the cutoff portion of the door. Before rehanging it, seal the bottom of the door with a clear wood sealer.

Planing a Door

Always take down a door before planing it. Take out the pin from the bottom hinge first.

When reinstalling the door, seat the top pin first. Because it's easier to reset than to refit latches, always plane the door's hinge side rather than the lock side.

To avoid dulling the plane blade, strip the paint or varnish from the door edge before planing. Check the door's fit often so you don't remove too much wood. After planing, deepen the hinge mortises on the planed edge as needed.

Finish the planed edge with primer and paint or a clear wood sealer, such as polyurethane thinned with mineral spirits.

Doors That Don't Close

* If a door doesn't latch properly, the latch bolt may not be catching in the strike plate.

Correct minor misalignment between the bolt and strike plate by enlarging the strike plate's opening with a file.

To correct a larger mismatch, move the strike plate. Unscrew the plate and enlarge the mortise. Then plug the old holes and drill new ones. After mounting the plate, fill any exposed old mortise with wood putty.

* If a door springs open, it may be that a hinge has been mortised too deeply into the jamb.

Remove the hinge leaf from the jamb. Cut a thin piece of cardboard or wood the same size as the leaf. Reinstall the leaf with the shim behind it, driving the screws tight.

Test the door. If the mortise is still too deep, add another shim.

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