How To Make Door Adjustments
Did you ever wonder why sticking doors frequently seem to coincide with a season change? Think about it. As the earth that supports our homes begins to dry in spring it loses moisture content and begins to shrink. When that happens the foundation of our home shifts. Usually, this causes the floor to shift. And, when that happens door frames are moved from their original position to another brand spanking new position. Isn’t it sad that sometimes a brand new thing may not be so beneficial?!? In any event, when rains stop the ground dries out and our hose shifts. In the winter, when flooding rains swell the earth, our home shifts in the opposite direction.
Doors are installed using very tight tolerances. That is to say, there is only about an eighth- to a sixteenth-of-an-inch gap between a door and its frame. Almost any house movement can cause the frame to move and result in a door bound so tightly that it can’t be opened. Or, if the frame moves while the door is open, the result can be a door that simply can’t be closed.
Major movement may require cutting the door or better yet reinstalling it. However, not all movement is major, and therefore, often only a minor adjustments need to be made to return order to the doors in your home.
Remember: with minor adjustments sanding should always be considered as a last resort. There are other adjustments that can made which are reversible – where sanding is not. For example. if the edge of the door near the hardware side (knob side) is rubbing, try bending the hinge opposite the rub. To bend the hinge simply remove the hinge pin and bend the hinge knuckles on the frame side of the hinge toward the frame. Fit an adjustable wrench over the knuckle and apply pressure. After the knuckles have be adjusted, use a pair of pliers to align the hinge on the door with the hinge on the frame. This will make it easier to insert the hinge pin. A hammer will also help. Bending the hinge knuckles on the frame away from the door moves the opposite side of the door away from its frame – and the rubbing becomes no more.
We have already noted that bending the hinge (did we say bending or reforming?) can be used to increase the clearance between the door and frame. If, on the other hand, the clearance between the door and frame at the knob side have increased there is another trick you can use that is simple and easy to accomplish. Rather than bend the hinge shim it instead. Shimming doesn’t require the strength that reforming does, and it can be done in an equally brief period of time. Here is how you do it. Remove all the screws from one side of the hinge. Naturally, the door will have to be completely open to achieve this. Use a piece of cardboard, a matchbook cover or a wood shaving as the shim. Place the shim in the mortise and reinstall the hinge. When everything is back in place the opposite side of the door will be closer to its frame and a slightly larger gap will exist between the door and the frame on the hinge side. It may be interesting to note that this exact same repair is used when the a door springs open each time an attempt is made to close it. When a door springs back this indicates that the door at the hinge side is binding against the frame. The binding is eliminated when the gap between the door and frame is slightly increased – as would be the case when either side of the hinge is shimmed.
Did you ever try to close a door and find that the bolt wouldn’t catch. Why is it that we invariably slam the door five of six times hoping that doing so will solve the problem. We believe that somewhere, sometime, a slam did work to jar the hardware into a state of repair. However, we believe this to be an occurrence of less frequency than having quintuplets. Actually, this repair is so simple it will amaze you. When the door latch is lower (or higher) than the strike plate on the frame, and the difference is very slight, try this technique. Place a heavy chisel on its side into the hole in the strike plate and rest it on the edge of the strike plate (any heavy tool that will fit into the hole can be used in place of the chisel). Use a hammer to strike a blow on the side of the chisel that will cause the strike plate to move (ever so slightly) in a direction that will cause it to clear the bolt. If a single blow with a hammer and chisel won’t move the strike plate far enough to clear the bolt, a file can be used to enlarge the hole in the strike plate enough to achieve the needed clearance. Slightly more complex, but still an easy task, is to relocate the strike plate. Remove the strike plate retaining screws and plug the holes with glued tooth picks or golf tees. Relocate the plate, drill new holes and remount the plate. If the plate is now properly aligned, mark along its perimeter so that the mortise can be enlarged. Remove the plate again, remortise the frame and reinstall the plate. Wasn’t that easy!?! And, good luck?