Troublesome doors that spring open or refuse to shut often need only simple adjustments. Accumulated paint and loose or misaligned hinges are behind many of these common problems.
If a door rubs, check it and the door frame thoroughly for paint buildup. Sand or chisel away any excess paint. If necessary, strip it off with paint remover, following all precautions on the paint remover. Prime and repaint the bare wood.
If accumulated paint is not the cause and rubbing occurs at the top or bottom of a door's latch side, try tightening the hinge opposite the area that rubs. Open the door and turn each hinge screw clockwise using a long screwdriver for maximum leverage. Turning the screws a quarter to half a turn may be all that is necessary.
If the door rubs along the hinge side, remove the screws holding the hinge to the door frame. Cut a shim, a thin piece of cardboard the same size as the hinge leaf, slide it behind the leaf and then reinstall the screws. Test the door, if it still rubs you may have to add another shim or place a shim behind the lower hinge as well. When hinges are correctly positioned, you should be able to close the door and slide a credit card easily between its edges and the door frame on all sides.
- Springing open
A door that springs open by itself may do so because the hinges are not aligned vertically or because their leaves are set into the door frame at an angle. Check the vertical alignment of the hinges with a plumb bob; if the hinges are out of line, remove and reset the lower one. To correct a hinge leaf set into the frame at an angle, cut a cardboard shim half as wide as the leaf and place it behind the part of the leaf set deepest into the door frame.
Sometimes you cannot tighten loose hinge screws because their holes have become enlarged. If this affects only one or two screws, simply remove them, drill a small pilot hole that extends each screw hole into the wall stud beside the door frame and then replace the original screws with longer ones. If all the hinge screws are loose, remove them and the hinge leaf and plug the holes with glue-coated dowels. When the glue dries, trim the plugs flush, then use the hinge leaf as a guide for drilling pilot holes for the screws.
- Not latching
If a door will not latch because the latch bolt does not engage the strike plate on the frame, remove the strike plate and either add a shim beneath or file the opening in the plate to enlarge it. If the latch and strike plate are severely misaligned, plug the screw holes and reposition the plate higher or lower on the door frame. This is easier than repairing a slightly warped door or frame and usually is as effective.