Many people think that a door not closing properly is a sure sign of foundation problems.
While doors may indeed become misaligned when foundation settlement occurs, there are other things which can affect door alignments which are not foundation related.
Some, but not all of these issues, include:
- Loose hinge screws
- Hinge metal fatigue (the metal hinge actually stretches out)
- Door warping
- Wood rot or termite damage in the frame
- Heavy objects hung on one side of the door for a prolonged period of time
- Replacement of the door but not the frame
But when doors are misaligned due to foundation settlement issues there are a few things we can learn from problem. Let’s look at a door and see what it’s telling us:
For purposes of this discussion it is important to understand the difference between the Hinged side of the door and the Striker side of the door, as well as where to look for the door gap. The illustration below shows the location of these features.
Now that we know the important parts of the door, let’s discuss what a few things are telling us. It is important to understand first, though, that when we say a side of the door is “LOW”, this only means that one side of the door frame is lower than the other. This is most often because the low side has dropped (usually from foundation settlement), but in some cases could mean that the high side of the door has actually gone up (usually a result/indication of a plumbing leak).
So here are some common conditions and what they may be telling you about the foundation:
|The door doesn’t latch and the door knob striker is hitting below the hole in the striker plate.||The hinged side of the door is LOW.|
|The door doesn’t latch and the door knob striker is hitting above the hole in the striker plate.||The striker plate side of the door is LOW.|
|The gap above the door is significantly wider at the striker plate end of the door than at the hinge side of the door.||The hinge side of the door is LOW.|
|The door rubs or sticks, or even won’t close because the gap above the door is significantly narrower at the striker end of the door than above the hinge side of the door.||The striker side of the door is LOW.|
|The door hits at the top of the upright part on the front of the frame on the striker side.||Usually the top hinge(s) has come loose or has experienced metal fatigue. Wiggle door to see if it is loose. Visually check the vertical gap on the hinge side to see if it is about even top to bottom.|
Hopefully this guide will help you diagnose which direction things may be moving in your home. Although a door misalignment by itself may not mean much, when coupled with other cosmetic indicators of movement such as sheetrock cracks, brick cracks, and frieze board misalignments in the same general area of the home it can certainly warrant having a professional evaluation.