This article is intended to give some (hopefully) helpfull advise to those in need. In need, that is, of a door that works properly. The author has lived in a house with old doors for many years and most of them have needed some repairation of some sort or another. Remember, however, that this is intened only as helpfull advise; not a positive fix. When in doubt, consult a carpenter!
We shall 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.
We need to determine, first of all, if the door can not open, close or stay opened or closed.
The first possibillity is the easiest (but most likely messiest) possibillity. It is as follows. If your door is stuck or does not close or does not open, 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 a extraordinaraly thick door or door frame or lumps of paint. The solution is fairly simple but it is also messy. There are three possible ways to fix it. Firstly, you can sand it away with sand paper. Secondly, you can melt it away with paint thinner (the author doesn't suggest this seeing as the chemical(s) are toxic and dangerous. They also emit toxic fumes). Thirdly, you can chisel the paint off with either a hammer and screwdriver or variations of that (Id est: In lieu of a screwdriver, a chisel).
To find out if the door simply will not stay open, open the door completly. It might slowly swing back into it's frame. If it does, this probably means that the door is off-balance and it will most-likely need to be re-hung (which means calling in a carpenter, if you really want it fixed).
To find out why a door will not stay closed, however, is a slightly more lengthy prosses but one that has three possibilities, two of which can be fixed by any half-savy 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. Please see second or third possibility below. If it swings back out, you might need to call a carpenter.
If, however, it stays closed but you can open it withought 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 mechanism.
The 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.
To remove the mechanism, open the door. Now, we must remove the handle. If it is a circular knob (or any other form; just not a latch) there will be a screw behind the knob located on the steel shaft connecting the shaft to the door. Unscrew this screw and pull both handles away from each other. A knob and another knob with a steel shaft should come out. 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 you screw driver and place it in the hole where the handle goes. You will need to press sideways on the screwdriver untill 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 it's side. Unscrew this and behold the inner workings of a door. Now that you have marveled and basked in it's 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. Figuring out what the problem is is the hardest problem of all. It could be many things. Here following is a list. Their solutions shall follow.
• A non-greased part
• A missing or broken spring
• A missing or broken part
Here following are the solutions:
For the first possibillity, a can of DW-40 works quite nicely. Either apply to the non-greased part directly (by utilizing the red tube) or spray some of the liquid into a spoon, cup and use a cotton swab to apply to the non-greasy area.
For the second possibility, the spring size may vary so know about what size you need. You will probably have to go to a fairly large renovation-type hardware store to find the right size. They sell for about $1.00 Canadian.
For the third possibility, the solution 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 esspecially true if the mechanism (and generally the house in which it is found) is old. You will probably have to go to a lock-smith or the lock-smith will come to you and change the entire mechanism. This is your best bet.
But, what if the above does not apply? In this case, either ask a profesional, or, try asking the author by starting a conversation.
In conclusion, this page is meant to provide some reasonable assistance to those in need of properly working doors. These are only tips as the author is not a professional. However, he has had many successes in his home.