Problem doors - analysing what is wrong
We’ve all had problems with doors jamming at the top, side or bottom, particularly after a change in weather patterns. When the door is scraping paint off the door frame, or the door latch won’t catch, it’s time to do something about it!
Most jamming problems are a result of the door being out of square with the frame. The most effective way to realign the door is to make changes to the
hinges rather than shave wood off the door or frame. Changes to the hinges can
stay permanently or just be temporary, depending on the need. Shaving wood off
the door, however, reshapes the door permanently (not desirable).
Before you can deal with the hinges you need to analyse the door to see what
the problem is. Only then can you fix them.
Let’s analyse the door in the photo (above right).
There is a gap at the top left of the door and the door is jamming on the latch side at the top. It is also evident that there is more gap between the door frame and the door at the top hinge than there is at the bottom hinge. This indicates that the top hinge is either loose or bent and is allowing the door to fall to the left at the top.
The top hinge has to be tightened or replaced (see how to do this in ‘Problem doors – how to fix them’).
The illustrations below show other common door problems.
In the first, the door is jamming at the bottom left. There is no jamming down the latch edge of the door. In this instance the bottom hinge is too tight up against the door frame. If there was more gap between the door and the frame at the bottom hinge the door would lift at the top and ease away from the bottom (i.e. the door would square up).
The bottom hinge, and maybe the middle hinge, need to be shimmed (packed out
from the door frame). See how to do this in ‘Problem doors – how to fix them'.
In the second illustration, the door is jamming at the top left. The top hinge, and maybe the middle hinge, need to be shimmed out to square the door up.
To move an out-of-square door down on the latch side, shim the top
To move an out-of-square door up on the latch side, shim the
Following the above pattern will also help realign a door latch that no longer slides into its strike plate on the door frame. See 'Realigning a door latch' under 'Problem doors - how to fix them'.
If the crooked or jamming door problem persists, after these efforts, it is possible the door frame itself has moved out of square. This will sometimes happen in wooden houses where the jack studs that support the floor joists have moved in dry weather. Wait for a weather change if you can, but as a last resort, you might have to take the door off its hinges and shave a little wood from the door (in moderation!).