How To Repair Your Doors
Learn to repair your doors. There is nothing more aggravating than a door that stick, binds, squeaks or just will not close. Problem solved!
There is nothing more aggravating than a door that sticks, binds, squeaks or just will not close. Contrary to belief, a door does not necessarily need to be replaced to solve these problems. In many cases simple adjustments can be done that will have your door working like it is supposed to in no time.
The simplest problem a door will give you is squeaking. This can usually be solved with nothing more than a few drops of oil applied to the hinges. But be sure when you do this to tighten all the screws as well, since loose screws are often the beginning of the problem. When this does not solve the problem you will need to make an adjustment to align the pins. When you are dealing with a door latch that sticks or doesn't close properly, these can be repaired by simply tightening the screws on the latch and spraying the latch mechanism with a good quality graphite spray. In fact, anytime you are having a problem with a door, the first thing you should do is tighten all the screws in the hardware. Don't forget to include the screws in any face plates in the edge of the door and the strike plates on the frame of the door.
At times when the latch bolt is sticking you can use a pencil lead to rub the end of the bolt and then close the door. This will mark the bolts' path on the jamb and if it is in line with the hole in the strike plate but will not reach it, check the stop molding. The stop molding may be out of alignment or contain some type of obstruction that is keeping the bolt from entering. Such items as paint build up, dirt or loose nails will often cause this problem. You will usually be able to find chipped paint or loose nails rather quickly when this is the problem. Use small finishing nails to tighten the molding or move it slightly into a position that will allow the bolt to close. If the problem is paint build up you will need to scrape away all the excess paint. When you discover that your latch bolt is out of alignment with the strike plate, this has probably occurred because your frame has shifted. In this case, the door would most likely work properly in every respect but that one. To alleviate this problem you should enlarge the hole in the strike plate by filing it with a file until the bolt will properly fit. In a situation where this will not work you can try moving the strike plate. To do this you should extend the mortise into which the strike plate is set and drill a new hole for the bolt.
When your door is binding against the jamb it is often because the door frame has shifted. If this is the case you will always be able to see and area of the frame where the paint has rubbed off, in some cases down to the wood. You will need to check the alignment of the door within the frame by putting a strong light behind the door and closing it slowly. The light shining through the cracks of the door will allow you to see if the alignment is off. There are many different ways to correct a binding door. The method you use will depend on the severity of the binding. If the door appears only slightly out of alignment you can use sandpaper to sand away the area that is sticking. Close the door often as you are sanding to be sure you are sanding off just enough to allow the door to close. If the problem appears to be a heavy build up of paint, you can chisel away most of the paint and then use a rag soaked in paint thinner or paint remover to smooth the area back down.
If all of the above solutions still leave your door in a bind it will need to be planed. Planing is the process of leveling the surface of a rough board with a jack place. You will need to set the blade of your planing device to cut away the necessary wood. In the case of most doors that would be 1\8 inch. You align the blade by sighting along the base plate and then place one hand on the plane's knob while holding the handle with the other. Push the plane diagonally across the wood grain while you apply an even pressure. In some cases the door will not need to be removed to accomplish this project. Begin by taking a pencil and drawing a line on the face of the door that is 1\8 inch from the door frame all the way across the door. When you find that the door is binding at the top or along the upper edge, open the door and use a wedge to hold it open while you plane to the line. You will need to prime and paint the new wood when you have finished planing.
When you discover that your door is binding on or near the bottom, you will need to remove the door from its hinges. Most of the time door hinges have loose pins that can be pried out with a screw driver. Begin by gently tapping the head of the pins with a hammer to loosen the pin. If you discover that your pins are rusted, apply a liberal amount of WD-40 or another penetrating oil to the pins and allow to sit for about five minutes before you attempt to remove them. Some doors have pins that are permanently attached to the hinges. In this case you will need to prop the door open with a wedge and remove the screws from the hinges to remove the door on the frame side. Do not remove the hinges from the door and always start with the bottom hinge when removing the door. Be sure to mark the door before you remove it so you will know where the 1\8 inch planing area is.
When you have planed to the line replace the door by inserting the pins only half way beginning with the top hinge. If the door has fixed pins you should drive in the top screws only. Check the door to be sure that this has solved your problem. When you find that the problem is solved, remove the door again so the new wood can be primed and painted prior to rehanging it. After the paint has dried simply tap the pins down or drive in the bottom screws which ever is necessary. If the door is still in a bind, remove it and continue to plane. In a case where a door is extremely out of alignment, you might need to insert a cardboard shim under one of the hinges instead of continuing to plane. To do this you should remove the screws from the frame side of the hinge and insert the cardboard. Then simply replace the screws.