Exterior door sags?


Old 09-19-17, 05:13 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Florida
Posts: 1,517
Received 1 Vote on 1 Post
Exterior door sags?

I have an exterior metal door that I installed back in May 2015, so less than 4 months ago. After the install everything was square, level and plumb.

Recently I have noticed the dead bolt lock up top is becoming hard to close. Upon closer examination I noticed the lock on the door side and the jamb side no longer align/center. The bolt is scratching the bottom of the strike plate hole. It wasn't like this when it was initially installed.

If I stepped back and look at the door it is clear the door has drop about 3/16".

I took out a 2' level and put it up against the top jamb - it's level.

I took out a 4' level and put it up against the left and right sides of the jamb - they are plumb.

But visually I can see the door is "OFF".

It seems the door slab itself has sagged on the left side.

I can "fix" the lock issue easily by sliding the strike plate down, but that doesn't solve the real problem.

Any idea how to really fix this?

There is a long screw in each of the hinges that runs deep into the framing. Should I back them out and try to "finesse" things? But the jamb is plumb.

Is the door slab defective? It's a 36" JELD-WEN metal door.
Sponsored Links
Old 09-19-17, 05:23 PM
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: USA
Posts: 517
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
It's not a surprise that jam is plumb. The first thing to test is are the hinge screws tight? If you open the door half way & lift up using the door knob, is there play in the pins? Spin the pins half way around.
Old 09-19-17, 05:45 PM
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 4,434
Received 24 Votes on 20 Posts
You never want to try and move the strike plate!
If you did that the screws would not hold moving it that small amount.
Checked the threshold to see if it's level
Used a framing square to check the inside corners?
Side can be plumb and top level but if the frame is out of square it's not going to work.
If it's just a little bit off and there's no daylight showing around the door I sometimes just use a Dremel tool with a grinding wheel to open up the latch plate.
Old 09-19-17, 06:28 PM
XSleeper's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 23,093
Received 187 Votes on 176 Posts
The first thing that comes to mind is that it's not as plumb and level as you "think" it is. If it was, you wouldn't have that sizable gap, period. And it may have just taken a while for the door to settle.

When installing doors profesionally, you practically HAVE to use a 78" long level to set the hinge side. (Can't stress that enough.) You have to plumb all 3 hinges at once or you aren't getting an accurate reading. And its better to actually set the level on the hinges as you shim and screw them. Putting too much shim behind a hinge or putting the taper the wrong way can throw a hinge out while the jamb seems plumb. After you plumb the hinge barrels, then set it on the jamb to see if you need more shims and where.

You also have to have a keen eye to read the level. Some guys just cant see fractional amounts. Even 1/32" out of plumb on the vial is a lot when the door is 80" tall. That translates into a LOT out of level in the horizontal plane. And as Joe mentioned, the sill and threshold have to be level. Check that first, not the head.

One of the first things you do before setting a door is check the rough opening and see if it's level. And it has to be dead on. If it isn't, you want to shim it (or grind the concrete so it's level) before you install your pan flashing, before you caulk the bottom of the rough opening and set the door into the bead of sealant.

My guess is that if you set your level on the concrete sill outside the door (bottom pic) you will find that the hinge side is low, and that this is the root of your problem. The head and sill are not as level as you think and the sill should have had a shim underneath it on the side that is low.

Not trying to knock your tools but your level could be inaccurate as well. Accurate levels cost a small fortune. There is a reason why a lot of pro's use Stabilas.

Only other thing I could think of... if the door was fine until just recently... it could be that if you live where there are expansive clay soils, very wet weather could have caused that concrete sill (bottom pic) to heave on one side. (Latch side).
Old 09-19-17, 09:24 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Florida
Posts: 1,517
Received 1 Vote on 1 Post
The door was perfectly fine when it was originally installed. Back then the lock was aligned and centered.

I used a 2', 4', and a 6' level to install it. I don't think reading the level is an issue here. I have those level with dual vials, one convex and one concave, so the bubbles are very elongated and sensitive. It was dead on when it was installed.

I did have to shim one side of the threshold back then.

It doesn't appear the frame of the door has moved. It's the actual door slab that has moved/shifted over the last few months. It was happening progressively, as I noticed the bolt sticking more and more.
Old 09-20-17, 02:01 AM
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: USA - N.E.Tn
Posts: 46,045
Received 118 Votes on 105 Posts
Did you replace some of the hinge screws [jamb side] with longer ones that will secure it to the framing behind the jamb?
Old 09-20-17, 03:32 AM
XSleeper's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 23,093
Received 187 Votes on 176 Posts
In a nutshell... regardless of what it once was...

Put your 6' level on the barrels of the hinges with the door shut. Tell us what it reads now.

Open the door, set a level on the sill, tell us what it reads now.

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Your question will be posted in: