You may have noticed a door or doors around your property becoming harder to open or noisy at the hinges. This can be a seasonal issue that comes and goes or a grinding annoyance that’s gradually getting worse.
A sticky door can have several causes, many of which are quick and relatively easy fixes. Then there are situations where your door dragging could be a big red flag.
Homeowners don’t often consider the possibility that there may be an underlying problem in the most literal sense. Stubborn door function can indicate a foundation maintenance issue, meaning there’s no time to waste in getting to the bottom of things.
This guide will cover what’s behind a sticking door, what homeowners can do to restore them to working order under their own power, and when it’s necessary to speak to foundation maintenance professionals.
The Main Causes of a Door Sticking
Door difficulties are always rooted in one of four main issues, or sometimes a combination of these. One of the most common problems doesn’t even lie with the door but with its surrounding environment. Homeowners can scan their door with their eyes or by using some simple equipment to pinpoint where the issue is coming from:
Your Home’s Interior Temperature
Humidity can cause doors to stick through swollen wood, so this factor should be regularly measured. You can find a hygrometer at many online or in-person retailers that will reveal how far away you are from optimal. Ideal humidity ranges between 30% to 50%, with lower levels being better in colder weather because it helps prevent condensation.
Dry or Loose Hinges
This issue usually gives itself away by a squeaking sound if you’re dealing with dried-out door hardware. You may also see some sagging of the door itself if the hinge screws have become loose.
Protruding Door Jambs
Your door has three jambs – one horizontal across the top of the door and two other vertical ones on the latch side and the hinge side. One or more of these may be coming away from the frame. A jamb protrusion of only a few millimeters can make a noticeable difference in door function.
A shifting or sinking foundation can reveal itself in the upper floors by putting structural pressure on doorframes and window frames. This causes them to buckle or become uneven before they start to stick. Cracks in the wall above a door often indicate that the foundation is the problem.
It’s never a good idea to underestimate the broader implications of a sticky door. Addressing milder problems will save homeowners the extra labor of having to use force on difficult doors or living with hinge squeaks. Dealing with deeper issues saves a lot of trouble and expense in the future and could safeguard the health and safety of the entire home.
6 Fixes for Sticky Doors
Some kinds of door repairs are cheap and simple to carry out. Others will need the advanced skills of foundation repair experts. Here is what homeowners can do, either by themselves or through working with a reliable contractor:
1. Buy a Dehumidifier
The simplest fix is when somebody (or something) else does all the work, and a dehumidifier will do exactly that by restoring a room to an acceptable air moisture percentage. Dehumidifiers are available from many manufacturers and can tackle sticky doors everywhere in the home, from closets to basements.
2. Apply Lubrication to Hinges
Use WD-40 or a similar lubricating agent to make sticky, squeaky hinges loosen up and quiet down. Remove the pins with a small hammer and screwdriver and then slowly apply a small amount of oil to the hinges with the door closed. Spray the pins with lubricator and replace them into the door, wiping away any excess oil with a rag.
3. Tighten the Hinges
Loose hinge screws may only need to be gently twisted back into place (turning them too hard will only make the door sticky in a different way). Be sure to gently tighten both the screws that go into the door frame and the door itself by turning them clockwise one-quarter after they’re snug.
4. Replace the Screws
This is also referred to as drawing in the door’s jamb. Sometimes jambs come away from the wall and protrude to block a door’s function; even a few millimeters of jamb slide can make a noticeable difference. This fix requires driving a long screw directly into the vertical jamb on the latch side of the door, near the central spot where the door is sticky, until the screw head is just below the surface. The screw head can then be smoothed over with filler before recoloring to match the decor.
This more complicated fix involves removing the door from its hinges and reshaping or smoothing the area that’s causing the door to stick. You can find this trouble spot by closing the door gently while pushing on different areas to discover where resistance is highest. From there it’s a relatively simple 10-step process requiring basic tools, eye protection, and sturdy gloves.
6. Call a Foundation Specialist
Sticky doors may be occurring at the same time as cracked drywall, stubborn windows, uneven floors, or excessive moisture in your crawl space. This means it’s time to step away and let a trained team look at your foundation before attempting any repairs. There are many different foundation repair methods with the potential to solve any issues that may be skewing your door jambs.
Homeowners shouldn’t let a stubborn door stick around. A professional assessment of the issue gives you peace of mind about the cause and provides the right solution to prevent further problems.
Contact the Experts if You Suspect Foundation Issues
It pays in terms of your safety and maintenance budget to deal with any door issues as fast as you can. The dedicated team at LUX Foundation Solutions can give you a free inspection to determine whether your foundation is the source of the problem.
Our experts specialize in quick and reliable services that bring decades of engineering experience to foundation repair and maintenance matters of all sizes. Contact our office and speak with an expert today.