How to Adjust a House Door

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There are many things that cause a door to fall out of place, so that it no longer fits into the opening for which it was designed. These factors can range from settling of the house to poor workmanship on part of the person who installed the door. Following are a few common ailments and how to remedy each one.

Things You'll Need

  • Wood chisel
  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver or screw gun
  • Pair of sawhorses
  • Wood screws
  • Check the door jamb for any pieces that have come loose. Be most mindful of the jamb board from which the door is hung. It is rare to find a door where a loose jamb is the reason that the door is out of adjustment, but still this is the best place to begin your search for possible problems. If the jamb is loose, simply nail it back into place using long casing nails, which are slightly different than a finish nail.

  • Check each hinge to see if each hinge plate is held tightly against the door and the jamb. If the hinge is starting to separate from either place, this will need to be corrected. Chances are that merely re-tightening the screws will not work. Instead you will have to use longer screws. Do this one screw at a time and don't forget to change screws at both the door and the jamb. Remember than even though the screw is longer the size of the shank should stay the same.

  • Add a hinge. If the door has only two hinges, then it is possible that a third hinge is necessary. Try to match the third hinge to the original two and install the hinge equidistant between the two. Install the new hinge in the same way as you would any other hinge. Cut an indentation with a wood chisel and drill pilot holes for the screws. Note if you have a hollow core door. This is probably not the problem, but a solid door with only one pair of hinges will likely give you trouble sooner or later.

  • Replace the existing hinges with a larger set. You will need to take the door down for this operation. Most likely you will have to shift the location of each hinge to accommodate the bigger hinge. So go ahead and remove all old hinge plates from both the door and the jamb. Install the new hinge plates on the door first, then proceed from this point in the same manner, as if you were hanging a new door. After all hinge plates have been installed on the door, locate the top hinge on the jamb first, so that the height of the door in relation to the jamb is just right. Install this hinge for a test run and to mark the location of the rest of the hinge plate(s) on the jamb.

  • Move the hinges. This step is almost identical to step 4, except that the by moving the hinges up or down you will be adjusting the height of the door in relation to the door jamb. Even if it's only by a quarter of an inch or less, it is still a good idea to cut fresh areas in the door and jamb for the hinge plates. Any adjustment in height can be made when you place the location of the top hinge on the jamb. And don't forget to fill the old slots will a small piece of wood cut to the correct size and thickness.

Tips & Warnings

  • When replacing screws with a longer one, make sure you keep the shank size the same. Shank size is listed by numbers such as 8, 10 or 12. Make sure you know how to hang a door before you move or replace a hinge plate.
  • Cutting a door should be avoided at all costs. Door frames that are out of kilter may be signs of structural problems with the overall house frame.

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