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How to Fix a Door That Sticks

how to fix a sticking door
how to fix a sticking door
ByMariel McClung
Table of Contents

A sticking door can be a real nuisance. It can also be a sign that problems are occurring elsewhere in the home. If the door is rubbing against the frame, the area can be sanded lightly to allow for more clearance. The hinges may also need to be lubricated so the door swings freely. These simple steps should stop the door from sticking.

A sticking door may be more than a nuisance. It could indicate that more serious issues are occurring elsewhere in the home, including foundation failure.

On the other hand, if the door is sticking due to a settling foundation, it will be necessary to take more drastic measures. Foundation problems sometimes show when the doors and windows start sticking, as the door and window frames can be affected. Fixing this issue may involve repairing the foundation, and AMC911 is there to help. We can inspect the foundation for problems and provide a free estimate to get things back in shape again.

Causes Of Sticking Doors

There is not a single cause of sticking doors, so there is not a single option for how to fix a sticking door. As we discussed, the problems can range from the door rubbing slightly against the frame to a foundation that is settling. Here are some of the main causes of sticking doors.

  • Humidity: Excessive moisture can cause a wooden door and frame to swell. This can be a problem in homes with high humidity, but it is more likely to occur after heavy or prolonged rainfall. Since the humidity rises after precipitation, the door may stick more at this time.

Ideal Crawl Space Humidity

High humidity can also be caused by damp air in the basement or crawlspace. Air is constantly being pulled from the area beneath the home due to the stack effect. This occurs as warm air rises and exits the home through the roof, leaving a vacuum behind. That vacuum is filled with air from the basement. It is estimated that 50% of the air in our home originates in the basement.

  • Hinge Alignment: Over time and for various reasons, hinges can become misaligned. A door may begin rubbing against the frame when this occurs. Often, a simple tightening of the hinge screws is all that is needed to get this problem fixed.
  • Seasonal Problems: You may notice that the door sticks more at certain times of the year, which is common due to seasonal fluctuations in the humidity level.
  • Foundation Problems: One of the more serious problems that could cause a door to stick is when the foundation is experiencing differential settlement. All homes settle, but if the home settles more in one area than another, it is known as differential settlement, and this can put a lot of pressure on the home’s frame. You may notice that your door and windows are sticking when they open and close. As the door and window frames get out of alignment, it causes this problem. Foundation problems are an issue that a professional must address, as it is progressive and is likely to result in additional damage.

What Are Other Signs Of Foundation Problems?

Sticking windows and doors is one of the first signs homeowners may see when the foundation is settling. Other signs can alert you to the problem as well. These include:

  • Sloping or Uneven Floors: Due to the uneven settling occurring with differential settlement, the floors may be affected. You may not see this problem with your eyes, but you may feel as if you are stumbling as you walk across the room or down the hall.
  • Structural Cracks: Cracks in the walls are not uncommon, but a structural crack can impact the home’s integrity. This type of crack will likely be wider than 10mm, and you should watch it for expansion. Stairstep, diagonal, and horizontal cracks are more likely to be problematic.
  • Separating Walls and Floors: Differential settlement puts a lot of pressure on the home’s frame, which may make the walls and floors separate. A wider baseboard is not the solution to this problem. The foundation must be stabilized.
  • Leaning Chimney: The chimney’s foundation is not typically as well-supported as the rest of the foundation. That is why a chimney may show signs of foundation problems before the rest of the home. If you see the chimney leaning, cracking, or separating from the home, call AMC911 for a free foundation inspection.
  • Wall and Ceiling Cracks: The pressure put on the frame of the home due to differential settlement can cause cracks to form in the drywall. If you see cracks in the walls or ceiling, or if a crack on the wall continues on the ceiling, it is a sign of foundation problems.
  • Floor cracks: While a crack limited to one or two tiles was probably caused by something heavy falling on the floor, a crack that goes from wall to wall is a sign of a foundation problem.

Signs of Foundation Problems

What Causes Foundation Problems?

We have spoken about differential settlement several times in this article, and it is a common type of foundation problem. Another possible foundation problem is when the foundation wall bows or cracks due to exterior forces. What are the issues behind these problems?

  • Poor Drainage: Water is often behind the foundation problems homeowners experience. This problem worsens when the water isn’t properly drained away from the foundation. As a result of excess water in the area, instability may result around the foundation.In addition, a buildup of water near the foundation can put significant hydrostatic pressure on the walls. Over time, this pressure can cause the walls to bow and, in some cases, crack. The cracks from hydrostatic pressure often appear as long, horizontal cracks in the foundation walls.
  • Weather Conditions: When the weather is hot and dry, it may cause the soil near the foundation walls to shrink and pull away. This leaves voids near the foundation, which could allow the foundation to settle into the ground.
  • Poor Soil: Soil that contains clay is more likely to expand when it is wet and shrink when it dries out. The expansion and contraction can affect the foundation, leading to issues.

There may also be other issues that can lead to foundation problems. These can include poor ground preparation during construction, nearby trees or tree roots, and plumbing leaks.

Steps To Fix A Settling House And Stop Doors From Sticking

If your home is experiencing foundation problems, you will not be able to fix the issue on your own. Professional intervention is needed, and AMC911 has the equipment and trained staff to get the work done.

The first step in the process is to have a foundation inspection. This type of inspection is more than a glance at the home; it is an in-depth look at the foundation and the problems that may be occurring. AMC911 offers a free foundation inspection and estimate to those who are experiencing foundation problems.

If the home is experiencing differential settlement, underpinning may be necessary to stabilize the foundation and stop it from sinking further. Underpinning involves driving steel push or helical piers into the ground until stable soil or bedrock is reached. At that point, the piers can be attached to the foundation so it will not settle further.

Push Pier System

Foundation wall problems due to hydrostatic pressure are dealt with differently. After the issue of excess water near the foundation walls is addressed, the wall must be stabilized. Foundation walls can be stabilized using different methods, such as carbon fiber straps, wall plate anchors or helical tieback anchors.

If you have problems with sticking doors and are concerned it may be a foundation problem, contact AMC911 today for a foundation inspection. We know how to fix these problems and can provide you with a free estimate for any necessary repairs.


Mariel McClung

Mariel McClung is AMC911’s Vice President and full-time mother. Mariel studied Marketing at The College of William & Mary and is the operational brain behind AMC911.

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