front door too hard to open---ideas?

toomuchSeptember 12, 2005

Our front door sticks so much that I need 2 hands to pull it open from the inside (and I'm strong). Part of it is swelling in humid/warm weather, but it's difficult all year. I've had a couple different people out to try and figure out the problem--one of them shaved a little off the top and bottom, another relocated the copper stripping, all to no avail. Once, I used one of those spray lubricants, and that helped a little, but only temporarily. This is one side of a double door, by the way; the adjoining door is always locked and has no knob. I'm a little worried that in an emergency, it would be too hard for people to get the door open. Any suggestions for what might be the cause of this problem, and what I should try next? TIA!

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Guy_DoorandWindows

Toomuch, As the doors are closed together what does the gap between the door and the frame measure on both sides? The gap should be as close to even as possible. I n most cases on double doors the original installer forgets to install the Security Screws in the top hinge. So with out these screws the doors sag and start to rub. First thing to check is your inactive door's locking ability. Make sure the flushbolts move up and down freely. If not you need to determine where the door needs to be for a smooth operation. If the gap between the door and the frame (when the door is closed) is wider at the top above the top hinge. You need those screws in your top hinge. Open the door and remove the screws from the hinge one at a time. These would be the screws in the frame side not the door. One or two of these screws should be at least 2.5 - 3" long and attach to the jack stud behind the door frame. If you have one in there then it needs to be tightened with a cordless screw gun or something that can provide a bit more torque than your wrists. If there isn't a lock down screw then you will need to get one. Usually its a #8 - 2 1/2" phillips head drywall screw, gold or black. Tighten it carefully and then close the door to see if it moved the door over at the top. Keep adjusting until you can get some gap. Make sure the top of the door does not rub on the head of the frame. It should be clear of the frame by an eighth inch. Then do the same thing on the active door and try to get at least an eighth inch gap between the doors. If this doesn't work then you may have to put a screw in all three hinges and pull the door evenly over. If the door is rubbing at the top then a screw in the bottom hinge will pull the door down from the header. One thing to keep in mind is always put this screw in the most inside screw hole possible. So a hole furthest from the door. This way you will have the best chance at hitting the jack stud. It may take some time to goof around with them to get the doors in place. Just be patient. If the doors won't move then you may have to much insulation behind them or the rough opening is to small. Also make sure the flushbolts line up and lock. If not you may have to bore the holes out a bit. Good Luck, Hope this helps!!

    Bookmark   September 12, 2005 at 5:12PM
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toomuch

Wow, thanks for your very detailed instructions, Guy. I took a look at the door while it was closed, and I could see that it's very tight to the frame. I opened the door that usually stays closed to see if that would have an impact on the other door. That door opens and closes much more easily, and the flushbolts work fine. Then I tried opening and closing the main door, and I see that, even with the other door open, it rubs on the top and the bottom of the frame and gets stuck as much as before, which is why I have to shove it with my shoulder to get it open or closed. Since it's tight to the frame on the side, and the spacing there appears even, I can only presume that the door itself is too tall for the frame, rather than the two doors being crooked within the frame. In fact there are rub marks on the top and bottom copper stripping, and with the door closed, I almost can't see any gap at the top of the door. I don't see how I could get it any tighter to the side than it already is. Do you think I should try removing the door and shaving the top and bottom? I know I thought this was tried once before, but maybe not enough.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2005 at 10:19AM
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alicesRestaurant

What kind of foundation do you have? A friend of mine has her front door temporarily unusable because of foundation problems. She can't use it at all until she can have some major (expensive) foundation work done to fix problem.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2005 at 1:30PM
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toomuch

Hmm, interesting question. Since the door that's normally stationary operates just fine, I think it's not the foundation, but rather that the door is too tall for the frame, altho I guess this could be caused over time by settling. We have a basement under the first floor, and below that is concrete, as far as I know. The house is 30+ years old. Can you explain how the foundation might impact the front door?

    Bookmark   September 13, 2005 at 1:42PM
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Guy_DoorandWindows

If your frame is on the top of the door. You can try and install a screw in the frame where the copper weatherseal is. I usually bend it back and insert the screw or screws. I can then bend it back to cover the holes up. As you tighten the screws you will see the frame rise. If the header has smiled down you won't see or get any movement. If you take the strain off the top it may release the bottom. If this doesn't work you'll have to pull the hinge pins and shave the door down on the top and bottom. Try the screws first.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2005 at 9:57PM
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kudzu9

toomuch-
When doors stick, it's usually in one place only. You should gently start to push the door closed until you encounter a slight resistance. Then take a piece of paper and slide it all around the frame to determine where the sticking point is. It will stop when it comes to the part that's rubbing. Then it may just be a matter of taking a little off the door with a block plane in that area.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2005 at 3:14AM
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toomuch

Thank you for the suggeestions! I'll give them a try.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2005 at 12:19PM
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toomuch

kudzu, door gets stuck at halfway point; when I try to slip the paper in, it won't budge either above or below the door from about the center of the door all the way to the frame, so I guess I'd need to plan both top and bottom?

    Bookmark   September 14, 2005 at 2:48PM
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kudzu9

toomuch-
It sounds like that's true, although I'm a little surprised that it's in two places. I once had a door that stuck at the bottom because the threshold was loose and it bowed up in the middle. Instead of planing that door, I was able to flatten the threshold out with a couple of screws. If that's not an option, get your plane out. Make sure the planing iron is sharp, and take the smallest slices you can. It helps to bevel the edges of the door a little first so that you don't rip out veneer from the face of the door when you plane across the top or bottom. It might not take much planing to free the door up. I'd start with the top and get that fixed, because you won't have to take the door off to deal with that rub. Then, once you think the top edge is taken care of, take the door off, plane some, put it back, and repeat until it's free. Good luck.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2005 at 3:48AM
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Guy_DoorandWindows

We see this every day on older houses in the Minneapolis, St. Paul area. Most the time it's a smiling header that has fallen upon the head of the frame. We usually take the inside trim off to see if to much insulation is packed in between. We will then remove the insulation and adjust the frame. More than likely the top is pushing the bottom down against the threshold. So when you repair the top the bottom may self correct. If not then the screw theory on the top hinge will lift the door off the threshold. If you can remove insulation and get the frame in its correct location. You may not have to plane the edge. If you do plane please take into consideration temperature change. The gap you have now will get bigger later. So be careful not to take off to much!!

    Bookmark   September 15, 2005 at 7:58AM
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toomuch

Thank you--maybe I'll try the screw before I plane, but it sounds like I may have to get someone w/a little more expertise than myself, since carpentry isn't one of my skills...

    Bookmark   September 15, 2005 at 9:54AM
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kudzu9

toomuch-
This is an easy project. You should see it as an opportunity to expand on your handyman/woman skills.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2005 at 2:13AM
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