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Some Tips on How to Fix Doors

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This entry is intended to give some (hopefully) helpful advice to those in need of a door that works properly. The Researcher has lived in a house with old doors for many years and most of them have needed some repairing of one sort or another. However, you have to remember that this is intended only as helpful advice and not a positive fix. This is because although the Researcher has had many successes in his home, they are not a professional. So when in doubt, consult a carpenter!

Stage One - What Is the Problem?

In order to fix the door we must first try to determine what exactly is the matter with your door. This may sound easy but at times can be more complex than one might suspect.

First of all we need to determine if the problem is that the door cannot open, close or stay opened or closed.

If the Door Won't Open

If your door is stuck, or does not close, or does not open, the first possible cause is the easiest to fix (but most likely messiest). You might have multiple coatings of paint on your door or door frame. If this is the case, it will show itself in the form of an extraordinarily thick door or door frame or lumps of paint. The solution is fairly simple but it is also messy (see below).

If the Door Won't Stay Open

To find out if the door simply will not stay open, open the door completely and let go. If it starts to slowly swing back into its frame it probably means that the door is off-balance and it will most-likely need to be rehung (which means calling in a carpenter, if you really want it fixed).

If the Door Won't Stay Closed

To find out why a door will not stay closed, however, is a slightly more lengthy process but one that has three possibilities, two of which can be fixed by any half-savvy and handy person.

Close your door fully. This means that you should hear the bolt sliding home. If the bolt does not slide home, you'll probably need to fix or replace it, to solve this please see second or third possibilities below.

If the door swings back out after it is closed, you might need to call a carpenter.

If, however, it stays closed but you can open it without turning the handle, it is probably something you can fix. It is most common to find this problem in old doors as it has to do with the mechanism1.

Stage Two - Tips on How to Fix the Door

Here are the solutions for the above diagnosed problems:

The Door Won't Open

There are three possible ways to fix paint build-up on the door or frame:

  • You can sand it away with sand paper.

  • You can melt it away with paint thinner (the Researcher doesn't suggest this seeing as the chemical(s) are toxic and dangerous. They also emit toxic fumes).

  • You can chisel the paint off with either a hammer and screwdriver or variations of that (ie, in lieu of a screwdriver, a chisel).

The Door Won't Stay Closed

Before you can do anything you must first prepare the door mechanism for work (see the section below). After the mechanism is prepared there are three main possibilities for fixing the problem.

The first possibility can be fixed quite nicely using a can of WD-40. Either apply it to the non-greased part directly (by utilising the red tube) or spray some of the liquid into a spoon, cup and use a cotton swab to apply to the ungreased area.

The second possibility is the spring might need to be replaced. The spring size may vary so you'll need to know wicht size you need. You will probably have to go to a fairly large renovation-type hardware store to find the right size.

The third possibility is the bolt part has worn out; the solution for this is more difficult. You can try to go to a fairly large renovation-type store but chances are they won't have your part. You can also try calling up the company (if you can find a name on the box) and asking for that particular part. Both will probably be futile. This is especially true if the mechanism (and generally the house in which it is found) is old. You will probably have to go to a locksmith or the locksmith will come to you and change the entire mechanism. This is your best bet.

How to Prepare the Door Mechanism for Work

To remove the mechanism, first you open the door and then remove the door handle.

If it is a circular knob (or any other form; just not a latch) there will be steel shaft between the knob and the door; on this there is a screw. Unscrew this screw and pull both handles away from each other. On one side you will end up with a knob and on the other a knob with a steel shaft should come out.

If the door has the handle variety, you have to remove all 4 screws holding the handle plate on, and you have to do this for both sides. You then pull both handles off the shaft in the middle then remove the shaft.

On the side of the door, there will be 2 screws located at about the door-handle's level. Unscrew both of them. Now, take your screwdriver and place it in the hole where the handle goes. You will need to press sideways on the screwdriver until the mechanism comes loose. Take this box out fully out of the door and lay it on a fairly large and flat surface. Turn it over until you see a screw in its side. Unscrew this and behold the inner workings of a door. Now that you have marvelled and basked in its beauty, it is time to get back to work. The most important part now is to logically look and move the mechanism about, making sure to remember where everything went when you first opened up the box. The mechanism is now ready to be worked on.

What to Do if the Problem you're Having Isn't Mentioned Here

In this case, either ask a professional, or, try asking the author by starting a conversation below.

1The mechanism is what makes the latch come in and out of the door and go in and out of the bolt-home thus making the door stay closed.

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