How to Stop a Door From Closing

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Door Closer
Door Closer (Image: Wiki Commons)

Having a door that won't stay open can be a major annoyance and inconvenience. Even when you leave it open, it may slowly swing shut, or only partially shut. Fortunately, there are a number of simple and affordable ways to solve this problem, from adding hardware to the door to using simple door stops. Most of these solutions require no special tools or knowledge, and can be completed by the average homeowner in just a few minutes.

Things You'll Need

  • Selected door hardware
  • Screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Drill
  • Wooden shims
  • Level

Invest in a decorative door stop. Made of iron or ceramics, these small figurines can be found in a large number of colors, shapes and sizes. They are one of the simplest ways for anyone to stop a door from closing, and can also be used to complement the room's decor. The stop is placed on the floor once the door is opened, and the weight of the stop holds the door open. You can find these items at craft fairs and most department or hardware stores.

Install a floor mounted hook or magnet stop. These small, affordable pieces of hardware are placed on the floor or on the wall behind a door. When the door is opened, a hook or magnet on the pull side of the door attaches to the wall mechanism, holding the door open. Magnetic versions work automatically, while hook versions must be manually attached. They require only a drill or screwdriver for installation.

Add a closer with a hold-open arm. A closer is a piece of hardware installed at the top of the door that will automatically close the door each time it is opened. Most closers have an optional "hold open arm" feature that keeps the door held open when the arm is engaged. Engaging and releasing the arm is as simple as pushing the door open extra wide, or pushing it a little further to release the hold. If you already have a closer, check your local hardware store for a hold-open-arm kit. They are easy to install and all you will need is a drill or screwdriver.

Use a Mag Hold. These hardware devices are the only way to stop a door from closing safely on a fire-rated opening. A fire-rated door, which is usually very heavy and often made of metal, is made to keep a fire from spreading and hold back smoke. The Mag Hold must be wired into the building's fire alarm system so that it is released in the event of a fire. The remainder of the time, the door will be prevented from closing, and in fact, will be nearly impossible to close manually. You'll need to hire an electrician to help with this project.

Try an old carpenter's trick. Tap the pin out of your top door hinge using a hammer. Lay the pin on a flat surface and use your hammer to put a very slight bend in the pin. Once you reinstall the pin, the door will no longer close on its own, but should easily close manually.

Plumb the door. A door that is properly hung and level will not close until you manually close it. If your door is not plumb, place wooden shims behind the hinges, under the legs of the frame or between the frame and the wall until the opening is plumb. Use your level as you work to check whether the frame and the door are level, and experiment with the placement of your shims until you are satisfied. You can also adjust the screws in each hinge by loosening or tightening them a bit, as this can affect the swing of the door as well.

Tips & Warnings

  • By law, all fire-rated doors must be self-closing and self-latching. It is both dangerous and illegal to place any type of hold-open device on a fire door. The one exception is a Mag Hold, which must be tied to the building's fire alarm system. While fire doors are most common on commercial structures, they may be found in homes as well under certain conditions. If your door is fire-rated, you will see a metal or embossed label on the door or frame.

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