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Sliding Bathtub Doors Stuck


sliding tub door rollers resized 600If you have sliding tub or shower doors that are stuck, you should first focus your attention at the top of the doors.

If you are looking to just open the doors to service the rollers (likely the root cause of the problem), you should be able to lift the door slightly and gently move it down the head rail. That will at least allow you to enter the tub/shower to fix the problem.

You might get lucky and find that one of the wheel assemblies is no longer riding on the track. This fix will be simply lifting that side of the door up and placing it so that the wheels are aligned with the track and it should roll smoothly.

It may also be that the wheel assembly has come loose and needs to be adjusted. You will need to remove the door to get access to the screws that hold these in place. Lift up the door and swing the bottom out. Then you can clear the top of the door from the head rail. The vinyl wheels don’t normally get ruined because the door isn’t that heavy. However, if they look bad, now is a good time to replace them.

Adjust the wheel assembly so that it is in the middle of the adjustment range. Rehang the door and see if it rolls smoothly. If they don’t adjust the wheels downward to lift the door slightly higher from the bottom track.

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Door has to be Pushed Hard to Latch


door hard to close resized 600If you have an exterior door that requires a shoulder to force it to latch, you may want to spend a little time to fix it. It likely is a simple fix.

There are many possibilities why a door won’t latch starting with the latch itself. Make sure the latch is aligned with the hole in the strike plate. If it is not, has the door sagged? Hold the door knob in your hands and try to lift it up. If there is movement, you need to correct it. You can use long deck screws in place of the hinge screws on the jamb side of the top hinge. If the door is firm, you can either move the strike plate up or down, or even file away a little of the strike plate to allow it to receive the latch.

If the latch contacts the strike plate but it tough to get in the last ½”, the weatherstrip may be to blame. Something is obstructing the closing of the door, and it is often the weather strip around the perimeter of the door. It may be that the wrong type was used, or that it wasn’t installed correctly, but that is a good place to start. Check both the hinge side and the latch side for problems.

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Installing a Coat Hook on a Door


door coat hookInstalling a coat hook on a door is a pretty basic job. With a coat hook, people can really load them up with lots of coats and the weight can pull them out of a door, particularly a hollow core door. Coat hooks are great for the back of a bathroom door where you can hang a bathrobe on them.

The danger of hanging a hook on the back of a hollow core door is that there really isn’t much support there and you risk the hook pulling out and damaging the door. You can try hollow wall anchors, but there are no guarantees here.

For solid doors, you can find the center of the door and predrill holes for the screws. Obviously you want to use screws that are short enough so they won’t penetrate the other side of the door, but large enough so that they will support weight.

For wall installations, it’s the same deal. Ideally you want to find the wall studs and use screws that will penetrate them by ¾”. If you want a location that doesn’t have a stud directly behind it, use hollow wall anchors or molly bolts. You want to be able to hang things on the hook, but you don’t want to pull the hook out of the surface.


Self-Closing Door Latch Doesn’t Retract


door latchA door latch takes a lot of abuse and occasionally needs some easy maintenance. There are times when a door latch will get so gummed up with dirt and the parts get worn that it is very difficult to get it to move in-and-out like it should. Instead, it will hit the door strike plate and just stop. The noise is loud and the door doesn’t latch.

If the tolerance between the door and the jamb is extremely close, the latch may hit on a flat part near the door (instead of the angled latch) and fail to engage. For this you can remove the strike plate, slightly mortise it, and reinstall it. For the most part though, a simple cleaning and lubricating will do the trick.

Remove the handles so that the latch mechanism is exposed. You can use a spray lubricant on the mechanism. Spray it on and wipe off any dust and grime from the mechanism. Move the latch in and out to work the parts. You can also push the latch in and spray into the surrounding area. You can use a rag to wipe off the parts, and when the rag comes out clean, give them a final shot of lubricant. Reassemble everything and the latch and knob should work much better.

Screen Door Pneumatic Closer Installation


door closerIt’s nice to leave the door open when the weather permits. It’s even nicer to have to door close behind you when you leave. This is all done with a pneumatic closer and it takes just a few minutes to install one.

Most screen doors will come with a closer, but you have to install it. Fortunately, it is easy and the door should come with simple instructions. Basically, you will install a bracket on the jamb side of the door (where the hinges are). Locate the closer at the top of the opening and mount the jamb bracket to the jamb. There will be a gap between the bracket and the edge of the jamb whose size depends on the thickness of the door. The instructions will tell you the correct size gap.

There is a hold-open clip that has to be positioned at the body of the closer so that it opens and closes. You may need to orient it to do this correctly. One end of the closer mounts in the jamb bracket and is held in place with a pin. The other end of the closer secures to the door bracket. You can attach the door bracket to the end of the closer (if it doesn’t already come like that) and mark the position on the door. You can screw the bracket to the door to hold it in place, but you may need to remove it from the closer first. You can adjust the tension with a screwdriver by turning the screw at the end of the closer.


Door Hitting Strike Plate When it Closes


door strike plateIf you have a door problem the troubleshooting should be pretty clear. In this case, the door was hitting the strike plate when it closed.  This is an easy fix assuming that only the very leading edge is a little too snug. In many cases when the strike plate is installed, it is just surface-mounted to the door jamb. It should be mortised into the jamb so that the entire surface of the strike plate is flush with the surface of the jamb.

If the door otherwise latches properly, the positioning of the strike plate is fine. Draw a fine line around the plate with a sharp pencil and then unscrew the strike plate. Use a sharp chisel and a hammer to remove enough wood so the strike plate sits into the mortise. Lay the chisel back at between 30-45 degrees and start tapping. It’s probably best to tap some vertical lines around the perimeter and then remove wood up to that point. Dry fit the strike plate often to make sure you have removed enough wood so that it sits flush. Be consistent with the angle of the chisel and the force of the hammer blows to get a consistent depth of the cut. Then just screw the strike plate back in.


Glass Doors Make a Room Seem Larger


door glassHave you ever noticed how some smaller houses actually look larger than they really are? It’s by design and it usually involves the idea of bringing the outdoors in.

Imagine having a small room with one window and a solid door. Now imagine that same room with multiple windows, a glass door, and a skylight. Being able to see the outdoors, along with all of the natural light makes the room look larger. Now you probably don’t want to replace your windows and cut through your roof to install a skylight, but replacing your door will only set you back a few hundred dollars, and it isn’t major surgery to install.

So if you get rid of your solid door and install a glass door, you can see through to the outside. If having clear glass makes you uncomfortable, you can certainly choose an obscure glass which will still allow light in, but not allow someone passing by to see inside. Certainly you could choose clear glass and place a window treatment on the door, or just choose the door with built in blinds inside the panes of glass. Going a step further, you can add a patio or deck to extend the living space and then you can add double doors for a more open area.


Loose Hinges On Hollow Core Door


loose door hinge resized 600Hollow core doors are light weight, but are easy to damage. Door hinges can become loose in hollow core doors fairly easily. Remember, a hollow core door has solid wood only around the perimeter of the door and at the handle area.

If you have a loose hinge, obviously try tightening it slightly with a screwdriver. You may be done at this point. If the screw just turns and doesn't tighten the hinge, the hole is probably reamed out and there isn't enough wood for the screw threads to bite into. For this you can try a larger screw with more aggressive threads. If this fails, fill in the hole with a golf tee and use adhesive to glue it in place. Once it has dried, you can pre-drill a hole and reinstall the original screw (if it is in good shape). You may have to do this at more than one screw location.

If the hinge is loose at the jamb, you have more options. Certainly you can use the golf tee trick, but you can also use a longer screw. A longer screw at the jamb will eventually reach the framing behind the jamb, whereas where the hinge meets the door, there is only empty space with a cardboard-like material because it is hollow.

Security Door Break-In Repair


security door damageSecurity doors that are installed correctly do a great job of preventing break-ins. Even if they are rock solid though, doesn’t mean some idiot won’t try to get in.

A friend of mine told me that someone tried to get into his house by trying to open the security door at the front of his house. He first tried to pry the door open, but when that didn’t work, he tried to pry up the metal mesh behind the door. He was able to somehow pry or kick a portion of the mesh away from the frame, but still wasn’t able to get by. The bad guy eventually gave up and left.

The mesh served a good purpose, another roadblock to entry. At this point, my friend could have either replaced the entire door, or repaired or replaced the mesh. He chose to just screw the mesh back into the frame. I’m not sure how well that looked, as the mesh was bent and dented. He used self-tapping screws with pan heads which made for a quick installation. The alternative would have been to clamp the damaged area back to the frame and weld it in place. Alternatively, he could have bought new security screening and installed it, but he would have had to paint it, and at that point, why not just buy a new door?

Shower Door Handle Broken


shower door handleShower door handles can receive a lot of abuse. Not only do they get pulled and pushed, but they also have to survive in wet, humid conditions. Occasionally they become loose or break.

Whether your door handle is on a swinging or sliding door, they will be held to the door frame by screws on the frame of the shower door or the glass itself if frameless. In most cases, the handle will become loose and you can simply tighten it with a screwdriver.

Door handles on a swinging door are small and typically have 2 screws holding it on, while sliding shower doors have a longer handle that spans the width of the door. There will be a handle on each door, with the outside handle doubling as a towel bar.

Handles don't usually break, but rather just need to be tightened when you first notice them becoming loose. In many cases, once the handle becomes neglected, the screws will corrode and break rather than the handle breaking. So you can replace the screw and be done with it.

If the handle does actually break, you will likely need to order a new one from a plumbing supplier. Big box stores don't usually carry them because they don't usually break. Bring in the broken handle and order the right one, and then it is a simple matter of just screwing it in. 

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