More in Doors

Doors Don't Behave

Plumb hinges and jambs


Two of our interior doors float shut on their own, but we'd rather have them stay open until we want to close them. How can we fix them?
— Lois, Lansing, MI


Tom Silva replies: When doors close without our help, it means their top and center hinges aren't plumb. The problem might be something as simple as loose hinge screws. Just get a helper to lift up on the door while you tighten all the screws. But if loose screws aren't the problem, then the door jamb itself is probably out of plumb. You can check by swinging the door out 90 degrees to the opening and holding a level against the door's latch-side edge.
If the door's edge is out of plumb, have your helper hold the door open at a 90-degree angle while you remove the screws holding the top and center hinges to the jamb. Hold the level on the edge of the door and the hinge leaves against the jamb, then adjust the door slightly until the edge is vertical. Use the holes in the hinges to mark the location for new screw holes. Fill the old holes before drilling pilot holes for the new ones. I just stuff a few wood toothpicks coated with woodworker's glue into the old holes, then cut them flush when the glue dries. When drilling the new pilot holes, use a bit that's a couple of sizes smaller than you normally would so that it won't wander into the old holes. Now, when you reinstall the hinges, your door should stay where you put it.
By the way, the fix is pretty much the same if a door opens on its own, except that you work on the bottom and center hinges instead.


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