5 Common Door Problems: How to Fix Them

Old door with handles and locks

Doors and windows in the home are constantly in use. When they develop problems such as: binding, squeaking, failing to latch or the wobble when swung open or closed; all these problems can be repaired with simple hand tools.

Repairing a door begins by inspecting and properly diagnosing the problem. Here 5 of the common door problems and how to fix them.

1. Binding

Usually caused by a loose top door hinge, allowing the door to hang at an angle.

• Tighten the hinge screws
• For stripped screws, use longer ones that extend through the frame and into the stud
• Door that bind at the bottom can be planed with a hand plane or sanding block.

2. Squeaky hinges

Door hinges may need to be lubricated. For heavy doors, ask a friend to help when removing and re-hanging the door.

• Remove the door from the frame by removing hinge pins using a hammer and screwdriver
• Lubricate the hinge pins with a light-weight oil
• Wipe off excess oil with a rag or paper towel
• Re-install the hinge pins with gentle taps from a hammer

3. Door won’t latch

Latch problems can be caused by several different conditions. Inspect how the door fits in the jam. If it’s leaning down at the upper corner, the hinge may be loose as described above. Tighten the hinge or install longer screws. The strike cylinder for the doorknob may be loose. Tighten as needed. The strike plate may also be loose. Tighten or move the strike plate. Sometimes it will be necessary to grind the latch hole larger. Remove the strike plate and adjust with a file, a grinder, or rotary tool. Then, re-install the strike plate. The stop molding may interfere with the door latching properly. Move the stop molding with a sharp utility knife. Score both sides of the stop molding where it joins the doorframe. Then use a wooden block and hammer to strike the inside edge of the molding where it meets the door to move the molding. Use finish nails to secure the molding. If the molding needs additional clearance, remove it by prying with a putty knife and hammer. Re-install the molding using a credit card for clearance between the molding and the door.

• Tighten hinges
• Tighten or adjust strike plate
• Move stop molding

4. Loose hinges

Tighten the hinges with a screwdriver. If the screws are still loose, install longer screws or remove the hinges, pack the holes with toothpicks and wood glue. Allow the glue to dry. Re-insert the screws.

• Tighten the screws
• Install longer screws
• Repack the screw holes with glue and tooth picks

5. Door hits wall

Install a doorstop. Choose from a floor-mounted stop, a flexible screw stop in the base board or a hinge stop. All will be available at most hardware stores or home centers.

• Measure to determine which type of stop is needed
• Drill pilot holes for doorstop screws and install the doorstop

Tools needed for most door repairs

Use hand tools for door repairs. Work slowly and remove a little material at a time. Check the fit often to avoid removing too much material.

Claw hammer
Electric drill motor
Putty knife
Utility knife with single edge razor blades
Wood chisel
Finish nails
Hand plane
Scrap wood block
Flat pry bar to remove door and frame molding (optional)

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