Doors are supposed to sit about an eighth of an inch above the floor, fitting square within their frames. But over time, the alignment can shift due to gravity, your home’s settling foundation, humidity, or a number of other reasons.
You want the doors in your home to be something you don’t have to think about, something that you can close and lock without effort. But a sagging door can cause frustration as it leads to a variety of problems.
For one, you may start noticing that you’re having trouble with your locks, even to the point where they’ve become impossible to use. There are two basic parts to a lock; the lock itself on the door and the strike in the frame. If your door has shifted from its original position, it means that the two parts don’t line up correctly and so it takes a lot more effort to use the lock.
Having to use force to get your door to lock isn’t always effective, and you may have considered getting help from a nearby professional locksmith in Vancouver, WA to solve the issue. But the problem may not be the lock at all. It could very well be a sagging door instead.
Prevent Floor Damage
A sagging door also leads to several other problems as the bigger gap between the door and the frame can cause drafts. The door might also be hitting the frame or the ground, making it harder to close. Having to force your door closed can damage your floor or the door frame over time.
A solution that often gets offered for this problem is to take the whole door off, sand it down, and then refinish it. This isn’t always the most practical thing to do, however. For one, it takes a lot of time and effort.
You also have to be careful to not sand off too much of the door, which can lead to a gap between the door and the floor. Especially if you’re a DIY novice, a project of this scale can be intimidating.
Fortunately, there are some easier things to try that can help a sagging door and don’t involve taking it off its frame.
Perhaps the easiest thing to start with is tightening the hinge screws. Years of using a door can loosen its screws, meaning that the door’s weight is not being supported as efficiently as it once was.
Take out one of the hinge screws to see how long it is. Ideally, your screws should be 2.5 to 3 inches, which allows them to reach the wall stud. But doors are often installed with shorter screws, which don’t support the weight as well.
If your door’s screws are long enough, tighten all of them up. This is especially important in the top hinge, which carries more stress. Make sure to use a screwdriver rather than a drill to avoid stripping the screws. This also prevents over-tightening. While you want the screws to be tight, overly tight screws are also a problem and can cause different alignment issues with your door.
If your screws are too short, replace them all with longer ones. When screwing in the new ones, make sure to do so one screw at a time so your door doesn’t fall off its frame. Again, avoid stripping and over tightening by using a screwdriver. During this process, you can also use a level to make sure your door is going on straight.
If your door is still sagging after tightening the screws, check to see if the hinges themselves are damaged. Sometimes, they can get bent out of shape and don’t work the same afterward. If this is the case, you can replace your hinges.
Even if just one is damaged, replace all of them as different manufacturers’ hinges might differ slightly. Getting ones that are the same kind ensures that the weight is being evenly supported.
As a locksmith in Vancouver, WA, we get many inquiries from people who are having trouble shutting and locking their doors. But sagging doors aren’t the only problem; uneven door frames can also cause issues.
Are the frame and door on the same level? Frames can get out of alignment due to a shifting foundation or time. The humidity levels here in the Pacific Northwest can also cause wooden frames to shift and warp. Use a carpenter’s square to see if the corners of the frame are at 90-degree angles.
Frame problems have different solutions than sagging doors. If you suspect your issue lies with your door frame, consider calling a professional contractor.
Plane Your Door
While your issue might be solved with a simple fix, such as tightening hinge screws, in some cases, your best or only solution will be to take the whole door off and plane it. This is a process that involves sanding down the door along the edge that has been rubbing. Wooden doors that have absorbed moisture over time can swell, which leads to sagging problems.
Plane a little bit at a time to ensure that you’re not taking off too much of the door, which would lead to too big of a gap. As well, be careful and make sure you’re keeping the door as square as possible.
After planing, you should also refinish your door. A coat of paint or varnish, especially along the newly sanded edge, will help keep moisture out of the wood.
To further ensure this step is successful, replace the hinges and screws as well. That way, if these were damaged through years of use, they won’t continue causing problems with your newly refurbished door.
If you’re not experienced with this type of project, using a plane on your wooden front door might not be the best option for you.
Consider putting a new front door in instead and getting a new lock installed by a locksmith. Vancouver, WA is generally a safe place, but if you’re worried about leaving your home exposed while you sand and refinish your door, consider getting professionals to help.
For more information on ways a door can be improved to increase the level of security, click here.