Sticking French Doors: How to Fix
LESLIE: Charlie in Alabama’s got some problems with some French doors. Tell us what happened.
CHARLIE: Well, I’ve got French doors on my lake house and evidently some portion of it has settled and – to the point now where the one door that’s operable won’t unlock.
TOM: So now you can’t even get into the lake house, huh Charlie? (laughing)
CHARLIE: Really. Won’t have to worry about burglars coming in.
TOM: Yeah. Double doors like that – French – double doors or any type of double door is really double the trouble when it comes to door adjustments because, you know, without having a solid center jamb, any movement in the hinge jambs …
LESLIE: Can really throw things off square.
TOM: … throws everything totally out of whack. So really what has to happen here is you’ve got to get this door open one way or the other.
LESLIE: Well, can’t you just take the pin out of the hinges and pull them off that way?
TOM: Yeah, certainly. And then what you’re going to have to do is basically rehang or readjust each door. You do this one door at a time. You close the door with sort of the jamb side on it; you know, where you have sort of the overlap, the astrical moulding. Close that first. Make sure that closes properly. Then bring the other door into it.
Now, if the other door, for example, is touching at the top, that might mean that the top hinge on that door has to move closer to the jamb – sort of closer away – which would pull the door away. When you move a hinge one way or the other it has a direct impact on how the door operates. So you need to look at the door as it’s closing and make those hinge adjustments. Sometimes it pays to pull the trim off and put some shims behind the whole jamb and pull it out. Other times it pays to take the hinge off and reset it deeper into the jamb to move the door that you – the way you want.
LESLIE: Now Tom, should any of those materials be changed out; especially because it’s in such a high moisture area of the lake house?
TOM: Only if you have decay. Only if you find that you have a rotted area of the jamb or something like that. But this type of swelling and moving of a door, Charlie, is not really unusual. It’s just that it needs a lot of tender loving care to keep it really functioning for you. And if you do it right and you get a nice, even closure of this door, it will also be more energy efficient by keeping the drafts off. But I’m afraid there’s no easy way to fix this. You’re just going to have to play it by ear; get the door freed up; close the fixed side first and bring the other door up to it and make adjustments as it’s needed.
CHARLIE: OK. Well, that’s what I was afraid you were going to say. (Leslie chuckles) (laughing)
TOM: Yeah, it’s a Saturday project. You know what? And it’s – it is not – it doesn’t have to be terrible. But go ahead and get it open; work on it one side at a time; take your time. You know, doors aren’t really that hard to understand. Just think that when you move the hinge one way, whether it’s in or out, it has the impact on the door. And the door will tell you which way it wants to go. You know, if you see the door is too close to the upper jamb, move the bottom hinge away. That will drop it down. Those types of slight adjustments will make a big difference.
CHARLIE: Alright. Well I certainly appreciate it.
TOM: Alright, Charlie. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.