New roof + snow = door that sticks!

Alice JohannenDecember 5, 2007

Hi, all --

We had a new roof done about a year ago because the old one was pushing 20 and we wanted to get gutters onto the house. We hadn't had any trouble with the previous roof, though the former owners of the house put heating wires on so we gather they had ice dam problems.

Anyway, our house is a split-entry with the kitchen upstairs and the deck located off the kitchen. There is a standard, hinged door leading out to the deck from the kitchen. Ever since we had the new roof and gutters done, whenever it snows, even a little bit, the door sticks so badly we can hardly open it. This never, ever happened before the roof was done, so I have to believe the two things are connected.

I have heard of deep/heavy snow causing this problem, but we got only 3-4 inches which is nothing around here.

I don't see obvious signs of ice. Can anyone tell me what I should be thinking/doing/repairing? Do we call the roofer back to make him inspect?

Thanks very much.

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unless they tore the sheathing and all off and restructured the roof along with the header/frame of the door, i don't see how it could be connected.

you either have a structure problem that is allow the sag, or MORE likely the door frame is just contracting and catching the door during the cold. try planing the door down a little at the sticking points.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2007 at 10:08AM
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Alice Johannen

Thanks for your input. We could plane the door, but it doesn't have any trouble at all unless there's snow on the roof (which there still is, since the snow we got hasn't melted at this point). With rain and warmer temps predicted this weekend, I'm hoping the snow will disappear so I can reality check that the door DOES work when there's no snow, DOESN'T work when there's even a little bit.

All I know is that we never had a door-sticking problem before the roof was done. That's why I wonder if they're connected. FWIW, they did strip all old roofing material, and replaced any rotted sheets of plywood. Plus they cut a ridge vent.


    Bookmark   December 6, 2007 at 2:33PM
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It does seem unlikely that the roof and sticking door are connected. Furthermore, there's virtually no chance that the door frame could shrink in cold weather. Can you tell where it is sticking, i.e along the side, top or bottom of the door?

Also. do you have a humidifier? One possibility is that indoor humidity levels are too high, causing water to condense on the cold door (esp. if it's got a lot of glass in it and/or you have a cheap storm door) and make it swell. This would correlate with cold weather in general rather than snow on the roof in particular, but it's a possibility.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2007 at 8:31AM
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Snow creates humidity, especially if you bring bits into the house. On snowy days, especially after we come in from shovelling and track in snow, our windows will fog up somewhat. So it's possible the humidity issue arises only with snow.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2007 at 11:29AM
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Alice Johannen

Hi and thanks for your responses. The door is sticking at the top of the frame. The humidity in the house is quite low right now compared to summer (we run a wood-burning stove), so even though we boil water for pasta once a week, I don't think it's humidity. Particularly since the door doesn't stick at all in the summer, even on the most humid days.

It really seems to be directly related to when there's snow sitting on the roof.

I remember last year reading about upstate New York, where they had something crazy like 5 feet of snow. It was an insane amount and people were quoted saying things like, "we know it's time to get the snow off the roof when our doors start sticking. When the doors stick, it's a sign there's too much weight on the roof."

... which is why I'm wondering about our roof! Of course, this is the only door affected, so it's not a whole-house problem.

Hmmm. The mystery continues.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2007 at 12:38PM
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When the snow is gone, measure the space at the
sticking point to see how much it is supposedly sagging.
I'm guessing it is only a tiny fraction of an inch,
which can be taken care of by planing, as previously
mentioned. If it is more than that, then the 'headers'
above the door need to be inspected and may not be
sturdy enough, especially if one of the rafters happens to fall in the middle of it. How often do you go on the
deck in the winter? Or is this an 'emergency exit' issue?
Also, when the snow is gone, measure the straightness
of the casing above the door with a good straight edge.
And then check it when there is snow.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2007 at 1:49PM
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I live in the Boston area and have a storm door and a steel entrance door that constantly stick very badly in ONLY cold weather. Both doors are on the same entrance. It does not matter if there is snow on the roof or not and the home humidity is low. It does not make sense to try to plane a steel or storm door. Both doors have been installed for 12 yrs now and this problem has only begun about 4 yrs ago. Once the weather turns warm both doors will operate with such ease it is unbelivable.

I'm not sure exactly who to call or what I can do. It is so aggravating since I use this door all the time. Any suggestions ??

    Bookmark   January 25, 2009 at 9:42AM
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