Homeowner’s Manual: Doors (Interior and Exterior) (Updated for 2021!)

Exterior Doors

Inspect door trim and thresholds for wood rot, weather-stripping or water damage. Replace any deteriorated exterior caulking with a good quality latex caulk compatible with door and wall materials. Hinges should be secure, and knobs and locks functioning properly. Properly installed weather-stripping at exterior doors helps lower your energy bills, so keep it snug and in good condition. After time, uncontrollable atmospheric factors (ranging from high humidity, salt, and rain, to extreme levels of

direct sunlight) can cause brass hardware to lose its brilliance. Any sharp object like a door key, clothes hanger, knife, etc. can scratch the protective coating. Moisture then collects on the scratched surface and corrosion begins. Wet latex paint will cause brass to tarnish. Always remove door hardware from doors before painting. Make certain the latex paint has dried before reinstalling the door hardware.

 

Sliding glass doors 

Worn rollers or a dirty track can make doors hard to operate. Most rollers can be adjusted, and replacement parts for many types of doors are available at home centers, glass shops and screen shops. Sliding door lock failure is a common problem; locks should be kept in good working order. Many types of supplementary locks are available for sliding doors and are a good investment in home security. Sliding door screens are often neglected. Keeping rollers working smoothly and replacing torn screens will pay dividends when you want to feel the breeze on a nice spring day.

 

Garage Doors

Garage doors and the surrounding framing should be examined for evidence of wood rot and physical damage. Check doors for proper operation and balance. (Release the automatic operator if one is present with the door in the down position.) The door should easily open to its full height and close smoothly without crashing to the floor. A balanced door will stay in place when opened to a height of five or six feet. Rollers and hinges should not be loose and should operate smoothly. Regular servicing of rollers and tracks will help keep them working well. Since springs are under great tension and can cause serious injury or damage if mishandled, the adjustment of door springs is best left to a qualified contractor.

 

Interior doors

Should latch properly for privacy. Hinges should be secure and knobs and locks functioning properly. If doors are not functioning properly, minor adjustments to the door frames receiver (striker plate) can be made to help the door to latch properly. From time to time, some doors may develop minor problems.

Sticking – is the most common problem with doors. If the sticking is caused by swelling damp weather, hold sandpaper around a wooden block and sand the edge that binds. If the hinge screws are tight and the door is still out of alignment, sand or plane the edge that binds. Paint or varnish areas that have been sanded or planed.

Not Latching – From time to time, doors may not latch securely enough due to settling of your home. To remedy the situation, simply loosen the screws of the keeper on the doorjamb and adjust it until the door fits snugly to the jamb stop.

Warping – is the result of too much moisture. If a door warps, the best remedy is to dry it in the sun. If the door is still warped after being thoroughly dried, apply weight to the bulged side and leave it for 2 or 3 days.

Storm Doors – may reduce your heating costs. Storm doors are usually made of aluminum, wood, vinyl-clad wood or solid vinyl. Homes with insulated steel exterior doors don’t need separate storm doors.

Weather Stripping – to maintain your home’s energy efficiency, exterior doors come equipped with weather stripping made from a variety of materials, including metal, plastic and rubber. This weather stripping must remain properly in place to prevent the loss of expensively conditioned air or infiltration of outside air. Metal weather stripping may have to be renailed if it comes loose. For rubber or plastic weather stripping, regluing or renailing should be all that is necessary.

Painting – wood exterior doors should be varnished every year or painted when the house or trim is painted every 4 to 6 years.

Garage Doors – moving parts of garage doors should be oiled every 3 months. The screws that fasten the hardware should be tightened every 12 months because the wood shrinks a little as it ages. An overhead door may warp inward from being left up for long periods. Usually this can be corrected by adjusting the nuts on the metal rods or the straps across the top and bottom of the door.

Locks – Locks requiring a key on the inside are potentially dangerous in an emergency. When this type of lock is used, keep a spare key always handy to prevent anyone from being trapped inside the house.

 

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