Pesky front door is not level any more

Old 04-09-05, 01:35 PM
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Pesky front door is not level any more

All the rain and wear and tear here in southern california has managed to make my front door uneven. It was rubbing really bad, but now that it's drying out, the swelling has fixed itself. However, the door does not latch shut any more.

I was just going to grind down a little more of the wood in the opening for the strike plate and move it down, but it's obvious the problem is an un-even door, so why throw a band aid on the problem when you can fix the actual problem itself.

From right (where the hinges are) to left at the top of the door, the gap starts at 1/16" and becomes 1/4" by the time you're on the left side of the door. Looking at the 3 hinges, at the very top on the right side of the door there is a 1/8" gap, but at the bottom hinge there is only a 1/32" gap.

Any suggestions on how i can fix this? Should I bend the top hinge so that it pulls the door more towards the right and doesn't allow it to slope down towards the left?
Old 04-11-05, 06:31 PM
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It is best that you wait a while and see if the door contracts back to its original state as you move into hotter and dryer weather, especially if door is wood and located on southern or western side of home. In the eastern states, our warmer seasons tend to be very hot & humid. But, in CA as we move into our spring & summer, you tend to move into dryer months.

If door is wood, after it dries out, remove and seal all edges to prevent future moisture and humidity penetration. There are also locks available that are adjustable and take into account the fluctuations due to temperature and humidity changes. You will need to check with locksmith.

Usually it takes one heating and one cooling season to determine if wood will return to original state if warpage and swelling are a problem. This tends to be the rule when dealing with solid hardwood products.

Also, check humidity levels inside home. Check with hygrometer (can be purchased where they sell thermometers). Humidity should be somewhere between 35-55%. 55% is pushing it. Dehumidify if necessary. Run your HVAC system because it dehumidifies.

Most door hinges tend not to be adjustable. Planing off areas where door rubs (if wood) may not be a permanent solution and may compound problems once door settles back down if adjustments were made while door was swollen with moisture & humidity issues.

Make sure hinges are not loose. Make sure you do not have a house settling problem, which would require an adjustment. A loose top hinge or house settling can cause a vertical misalignment between the latch and the strike plate. Make sure screws are tight and look for an uneven gap across the top of the closed door. Make sure strike plate is installed properly. Make sure door trim is installed properly and does not need an extra nail or screw to pull it tight or tapped in with board and hammer so strike plate hits properly. Sometimes you have to adjust jamb at stop plate and jamb above door. These tend to be easily adjusted with board & tapping with hammer to align strike plate.

Sometimes realigning strike plate may be required. Move the strike plate up, down, or in as needed. Remove the strike plate and fill the screw holes with wood filler. Use a sharp chisel or utility knife to enlarge the mortise in the direction that you need to move the plate. Reposition the strike plate to mark the screw locations. Drill pilot holes and reinstall the plate. Touch up any gap with wood filler, and touch up the finish. Sometimes removal of strike plate & enlarging opening is a solution if strike plate is not properly hit. Remove strike plate, place in vise, and file opening to enlarge. Again, double check hinges to make sure they are secure and there are no loose screws and hinge is not properly working. Tighten any lose hinge screws. Double check to make sure no screw holes are stripped and screws won't tighten. You can remove screws and drill a deeper pilot hole and use longer screws so you can get into door frame beyond jamb.

Top hinge is usually the culprit when it comes to hinge problems. As top hinge screws are tightened it tends to raise the handle side of door. Thus, make sure top hinge screws are also not overtightened or too loose. Again, there are adjustable locks that take into consideration fluctuations in door due to temperature & humidity. And, if have a wood door, once it reacclimates to temperature & humidity, removing & sealing all edges will tend to prevent future problems due to environmental changes.

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