Troubleshooting Door Hinge Problems

Having trouble with your door? Chances are it's a hinge problem. Here's how to fix it.

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We have hinges to thank for our doors' ability to open and close. But over time, hinges can cause major door problems and prevent the fixture from functioning properly. Luckily, most hinge issues have simple fixes. We'll walk you through the basics, like how to tighten a loose hinge, shim a hinge, and fix a squeaky hinge. 

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How to Tighten a Loose Hinge

Step 1: Test the Hinge

On the latch side, a door is cut at a slight bevel to make it easier to close. If a door binds, open it, grasp the knob, and lift up to see if a hinge is loose. If one is loose remove two or more screws and try driving in longer screws.

Step 2: Tap Wood

If that does not solve the problem, trim pieces of shim or other small wood pieces to fit tightly in the holes (matchsticks or golf tees work well). Tap the wood in and use a knife to cut it flush with the jamb.

Step 3: Drive New Screws

Drill a pilot hole in the center, taking care to hold the drill level and straight as you work. Drive new screws. Check the door for binding and correct any problems; if the door sticks, the screws will come loose again.

How to Shim a Hinge

If a hinge leaf is recessed below the surface of the jamb or the door edge, the door will not close well and the hinge will bend when you close it. Use a hinge leaf as a template to make a cardboard shim that you can slip behind the leaf.

If the hinge leaf is recessed only at the bottom or the top, insert a shim behind only part of the hinge leaf.

You can also adjust a door slightly to the left or the right by bending the hinge knuckles. With the door closed slip an adjustable wrench over the door leaf only—not the jamb leaf—and bend.

How to Fix a Stuck Pin

If a hinge pin is stuck and will not come out when you tap it with a screwdriver, first try squirting with penetrating lubricant. Wait about 10 minutes and try tapping again. If it still will not come out, it may be easier to remove the screws from one leaf, which will allow you to remove the door.

How to Fix a Squeaky Hinge

It is usually easiest to replace a rusty hinge. However, if the hinge is of a style that is hard to replace, disassemble it and clean with solvent and a toothbrush. Allow to dry, then polish with very fine sandpaper. Apply lubricant and reassemble.

How to Fix a Door That Opens or Closes on Its Own

An older home may have a doorway that is out of square or out of plumb so that the door opens or closes by itself. Purchase a spring hinge, which can be adjusted to correct the problem.

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