As the weather and humidity changes, it is not unusual for doors to stick or not fully close. Wooden doors tend to swell as the humidity increases. The door frame changes shape and size as a result of this humidity. However, your sticking door may be as simple as a loose screw.
A wooden door that that sticks or won’t close is usually fairly easy to fix. Other types of doors can also be fixed, but there are fewer options when it comes to modifying the size or shape of the door itself.
The first and easiest thing to check is that all the hinge screws are tight. If the door is sagging, prop it up first with a magazine or book before tightening the screws. If the wood won’t hold the screws tightly, you can drill it out and insert a dowel or for a quick fix, fill it with toothpicks and break them off flush with the surface. Check that the door latch and door knobs are secure too.
Plane the door
The most common solution for a sticking door is to plane the edge that rubs against the jamb. Planing the edge simply means that you are using a power hand planer with an adjustable blade to eat away a small amount of the edge to reshape the door by making it slightly smaller. The door needs to be taken off the hinges to plane it properly. When the door is removed, check both the top and bottom edges to ensure they are finished. If not, paint or varnish them. This will limit shrinking or swelling.
Adjust the door jamb
Another way to prevent rubbing is to adjust the door jamb slightly. This is done by drawing it in using a long screw through the latch side of the door jamb (rather than the hinge side). Pre-drill a 3mm hole to create a recess for a screw head with a countersink bit. Then drive in a 75mm x 8g screw and tighten.
Soap or candle wax
Another quick and easy solution is to use a bar of soap or candle wax. Locate the area of the door where the door is sticking and rub the bar of soap in the edge of the door in that location. This may help lubricate the swollen area allowing it to move more freely until the humidity drops back down.
An unsealed entryway can allow outside air to enter your home, leading to uncomfortable drafts. These air leaks also reduce your home’s energy efficiency and can lead to increased heating and cooling bills. Air leaks around door jambs can often be attributed to poor installation, insufficient weather-stripping, or lack of insulation. Fortunately, these problems are easy to fix. Most DIY homeowners can reduce or eliminate these air leaks in just a few hours using simple tools and techniques.
The first step is to inspect the weather-stripping around the inside perimeter of the frame. Even if you have weather stripping, it may not be doing its job, because it wears out. Old weather stripping should be periodically replaced. If you press on existing rubber or foam weather stripping and it doesn’t bounce back, or you can see dents or tears in the material, it should be replaced.
A simple way to determine if your exterior door needs weather stripping is to check for daylight coming in around the door. Next take the knob and rattle the door. If it rattles or you can see daylight, air is leaking around your door. Air may also be leaking around the door frame which can be checked with a candle flame or the smoke from a stick of incense. Slowly move the incense along the inside and outside edges of the molding and watch for changes in the movement of the smoke.
Weather stripping should be installed along the sides and top of the door and a door sweep or similar device should be installed on the bottom of the door. Weather stripping is available in rubber, foam, plastic, and metal. Self-adhesive, staple, and nail-on are the most common installation types. It is available in a large variety of shapes and sizes also. Choose the shape and size based upon the manufacturers recommendations for your particular installation.
For air leaks that occur around the door frame, they can be sealed by caulking around the door frame molding. However, the air that gets to the molding may find other ways into your house, so it is best to address the leak at its source.
Examine your door frame from both sides of the opening. It is most likely covered by some form of trim or molding. To repair air leaks around the jambs, you’ll need to remove this trim from one side of the door. Use a utility knife to cut away caulk or paint from between the jambs and wall. You’ll only need to do this on the side where the casing will be removed (either indoor or outdoor).
Pry away the trim using a pry bar or hammer. Work very carefully so the trim isn’t damaged and can be re-installed later. Start at the bottom of the jambs and pry the trim away just a small amount at a time, working your way up the frame. Once the trim is removed, use your hammer to remove all nails.
Check for insulation in the gap between the jambs and wall framing. If the existing insulation is wet or dirty, remove it and replace it. Fill the space with fiberglass batt insulation or spray foam insulation. The gaps should be filled as much as possible, but not overstuffed, as compressed insulation tends to lose its effectiveness. If spray foam is used, it expands once it has been dispensed from the canister. Apply in the wall void and let dry. Once it has cured, the excess foam which oozes out from the cavity can be cut smooth to the wall using a utility knife.
Reinstall the casing around your door. Hammer it in place using small finish nails. Recess the nail heads just below the finished trim surface using a nail punch and hammer. Once the nail head has been set, fill the void with wood filler.
Caulk around the perimeter of the frame where it meets the wall. Use a clear silicone caulk, or one that matches the wall color. Check both sides of the opening and add caulk as needed to help seal the entrance.
A substantial amount of air can leak around an exterior door. By using simple to install weather stripping and caulks on exterior doors, you will reduce your energy bill and make your home more comfortable.
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