One of your doors is not working right. Maybe it’s sticking on one edge, rubbing the floor, the latch isn’t catching, or it’s stuck and you can’t open it! Does this mean you have a foundation issue or something else??
After 35+ years in business at Anchor Foundation Repair, we diagnose door problems almost as often as we diagnose foundation issues. Since door problems are one of the top signs of foundation problems, we know how to identify and fix the root causes of many a door malfunction.
This article will explain reasons why doors can have issues and how they are related to foundation settlement. We will reveal how you can tell the difference between a foundation-related door problem and another kind of door issue. We will also review the options you have to handle your door troubles.
Why Doors Stop Working Right and What That Could Mean
All your doors used to work properly, but then something changed and things are no longer functioning as they should. There are two main reasons your doors could stop working:
- Some kind of hardware failure, or
- Foundation settlement.
If you have a hardware problem, then your door does not close or latch properly and should be fixable by replacing the failing part and readjusting your door.
A door’s rectangular frame should be holding right angles at every corner so that your door fits perfectly within the frame with no points of contact. When you have foundation settlement, the door frame is pushed “out of square” and causes closure issues. The door does not match up with the frame due to shifting framing attached to a shifting foundation.
Is My Door Problem Foundation Related? How to Tell
Well, how can you tell which issue is causing your door problem? Good question and one you really need to know so that you can move forward with some type of repair. These issues can happen in homes with slab foundations as well as crawl space types of foundations.
Signs that could indicate hardware failure are:
- Happening to just one door,
- Loose screws,
- Gaps on the top and sides of the door, and
- Looseness, wiggle, or *play* in the door when you push the side of the door towards the hinges.
Door signs that can indicate foundation settlement:
- Gapping on the top side of the door ONLY,
- Evidence of the door previously being cut/shaved off the top to make it fit, and
- Screws and hinges are intact and not loose, and
- More than one door in your home is experiencing an issue.
- Sometimes, (especially on pier and beam homes) the bottom of the door rubs on the floor.
Options for Dealing with Problematic Doors
Whether you are dealing with a door problem caused by hardware failure or foundation settlement, you still have some choices on how to handle the problem. You can:
- Ignore the issue and do nothing,
- Trick the door into working temporarily, or
- Raise your settled foundation.
Don’t worry, we will explain each of these options a little bit more now.
1. Ignore Your Door Issue and Do Nothing
You might think I’m just being a smart alec here, but ignoring this issue is a legitimate way to handle things. Not every door in your home is essential to have working perfectly. For example, that door that goes to your laundry room that you always keep open anyway—maybe not as important. Compare that to your front door being stuck closed—pretty important.
Or maybe your door still opens and closes, it just makes a tiny bit of contact with the frame. It’s not truly irritating you or causing functional problems. This kind of door issue could be easier to ignore for a while or wait and observe the door to see if the problem gets worse.
Sometimes seasonal settlement can make doors behave differently at different times of the year. Your door might go back to working better in the next season. You could monitor your home for a few months to a year and observe the changes.
2. Trick Your Problem Door Into Working
Some tricks can get your door swinging, closing, and latching properly that are essentially ways to manipulate the situation and get the door working. These methods all involve shifting the door frame, modifying the door or the frame itself, or resetting the door into an adjusted space to make it fit right again.
Find a handyman or door repair guy to try one or more of these solutions:
- Add shims behind the hinges to shift the “square” of the frame,
- Compress the door jamb with longer screws on the needed sides,
- Move the strike plate or latch up or down to make it work again,
- Shave, plane, or sand the top edge of the door down to make it fit the frame,
- Pop the door off and rehang it, or
- Buy a new door frame and door to install in its place.
There’s nothing wrong with these solutions, they can be very effective for many years. But if you do have a progressing or developing foundation issue, these quick fixes are not permanent. You’ll have to keep applying more and more *tricks* to get things to work until eventually, no more tricks will work.
3. Raise Your Settled Foundation to Return Door Functionality
For a more permanent and lasting solution, get your foundation repaired. This option also does not involve modifying your door or door frame and *jimmying* things up. Your door frames should return to square and door fit should improve when a foundation is raised and returned to its original elevation.
Of course, getting foundation repairs done is more expensive than your favorite handyman doing a few door tricks.
If your only problem is one faulty door, and there are no other signs or troublesome symptoms of foundation settlement going on. In that case, you might want to wait on foundation repairs and consider option 1 or option 2 above.
Consider raising your settled foundation by following these 3 educational steps:
- Do a check-up of your home and look for other signs of foundation problems,
- Read this article to evaluate foundation settlement vs. foundation problems,
- Learn how to know if you have a foundation problem with this article.
After exploring these resources, decide if you are to the point of wanting someone to come inspect your foundation and guide you further. Take your time and find a foundation repair contractor that meets your needs on your terms.
Do You Have Any Other Signs of Foundation Settlement?
There are more signs of foundation settlement and problems than just door issues anyway. If you think your door problem could be foundation-related, your first step as outlined above is to look for other common signs of developing foundation problems.
At Anchor Foundation Repair, we have been inspecting and repairing foundations in Bryan, College Station, and surrounding Brazos Valley communities like Brenham and Madisonville since 1985. We want homeowners to know all the key signs to look out for in identifying foundation settlement affecting their homes.
Check out the Ultimate Picture Guide to Foundation Problems (Real + Misleading Signs) to fully understand what might be happening with your home and identify any other signs that point to foundation settlement.