How do I fix doors that are out of plumb?

Posted in Home Improvement on June 17, 2018

In older homes, often some doors just move by themselves. Some doors. if you open them, gradually close by themselves, while others open gradually after they are closed. How can you fix this?

Don't call the exorcist, because it sounds like your house has just settled a bit with age. This has caused some of the door frames to be out of plumb; that is. the hinges are no longer in line with each other. There’s a “quick and dirty” fix, and an elaborate but long-lasting one. Take your pick, but we’d try the quick one first.

The quick and dirty fix is to remove each hinge pin (the rod that holds the two hinge leaves together), one at a time, and whack it with a hammer. You want the pin to be bent slightly, so the hinges are stiff enough to prevent the door from swinging by itself. A more permanent fix is to re-hang the door so it’s plumb. Keep on reading after the illustration for details.

The first step is to take the door off its hinges. Then use a level to see in which direction the door frame is crooked: parallel with the wall, perpendicular to it, or both.

Use a 6-ft. level if you can get a hold of one, or a shorter level held securely against a very straight board. Place your level against the barrels (the round part) of the hinges for checking perpendicular to the wall, and against the leaves (the flat part) of the hinges to check parallel to the wall.

If the hinges are out of plumb parallel to the wall, slip a shim under the hinge that needs it. You can use pieces of cardboard, metal flashing or a thin strip of wood.

If the hinges are out of plumb perpendicular to the wall, one of them will have to be moved sideways. You may need to chisel out the hinge recess to enlarge it, and you may also need to remove the door stop and reposition it alter you install the door.

If you're moving the hinge only a small amount, the screws may insist on going back into the old holes. In this case, drill out the screw holes to 3/16 in., glue in pieces of dowel using five-minute epoxy glue. And trim the dowels flush. Now you should be able to get the screws to go in where you want them.

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