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Humidity swelling up doors...

KatoKato Registered User
edited July 2007 in Help / Advice Forum
I've got a problem with our house. The side door that goes in to the garage for the last few months is incredibly difficult to open and shut. My wife can't do it. I can do it, but I have to very forcibly throw my weight and shoulder in to it. We just got our garage door fixed and in working order again so it would be really nice if we could put the car in the garage and then come in through the side door like we are meant to do.

I think it's hard to open and shut due to humidity and the wood expanding in the door. I can't say for certain as I'm not a big handyman or anything like that, but it is quite annoying and this is something I'd like to fix. You can look at the inside of the door frame and see where people in the past have had a similar issue and that metal lining (really not sure what it is called, but it runs up and down the door and is nailed to the inside of the frame where the door closes) is bent up in a few places. I've tested it and I'm pretty sure it's not getting caught on any of that metal stuff because when we first moved in, we didn't have this issue with the door. It's swelled up so bad that we can't even get the deadbolt to go all the way in to the wood.

Anyone have some experience with an issue like this and can give me some good advice on how to fix it? Something that is preferably easy and not very cost intensive. I don't have a garage with a ton of tools just sitting around waiting for me to use or anything like that.

Kato on
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  • PheezerPheezer Registered User, ClubPA
    edited July 2007
    You basically need to re-frame the door. The door was probably framed when it was late spring or early fall and humidity was low, so it was framed to fit properly when all of the wood would be at its smallest.

    If you give it too much room when you re-frame it, you'll run into the problem where it might not click shut properly in the winter.

    IF, AND ONLY IF the door is SOLID, and NOT hollow in the middle (knock on it in a few places to judge if it sounds hollow anywhere throughout), THEN you may rent a hand planer from a hardware store, remove the door knob and lock(s), plane down the side of the door like an 1/8 of an inch, and then re-assemble that stuff. This solution requires maybe a couple hours and a screw driver.

    If it's a hollow door, this is a bad, bad, bad idea. But you might still be able to use a hand planer to adjust the frame very slightly (although this will be less easy).

    IT'S GOT ME REACHING IN MY POCKET IT'S GOT ME FORKING OVER CASH
    CUZ THERE'S SOMETHING IN THE MIDDLE AND IT'S GIVING ME A RASH
  • rannelvisrannelvis Registered User
    edited July 2007
    for now, pick up a dehumidifier. to prevent the swelling in the future, make sure that the door is properly sealed all the way with varnish, paint, or stain.

  • PheezerPheezer Registered User, ClubPA
    edited July 2007
    rannelvis wrote: »
    for now, pick up a dehumidifier. to prevent the swelling in the future, make sure that the door is properly sealed all the way with varnish, paint, or stain.

    It's an exterior door. A dehumidifier is not going to solve this.

    Even if it's only exterior to his garage, his garage likely isn't sealed and insulated the way the interior of a house is.

    EDIT:
    Also it could be the wood in his walls that is swelling slightly. This does in fact happen.

    IT'S GOT ME REACHING IN MY POCKET IT'S GOT ME FORKING OVER CASH
    CUZ THERE'S SOMETHING IN THE MIDDLE AND IT'S GIVING ME A RASH
  • AtomBombAtomBomb Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    As said, if the door is a solid core (which it most likely is if it's swelling that much) you can plane it down a bit to make it fit better. I don't think that would take a few hours, you should be able to do it in 1/2 an hour if you're not totally clueless. Just make sure to do just a bit at a time, test shut it and go from there. You can always take more off, but not less.

    You can also sand it if you don't have a planer. This is slower and a wee bit less precise, as it's easier to make the door a bit, ummm, ?wavey? Basically, the door may not be sanded the same in all places, so that the line of the door isn't perfectly straight. I'm having trouble coming up with the right word, hopefully you know what I mean. Not a big deal anyway.

    Remember to seal the thing when you're done with it, and account for the sealer when you're fixing it. Get it perfect, then take slightly more off to compensate for the sealer.

    I don't recommend reframing the doorway. It's a pain in the ass, particularly if you're not skilled with that type of stuff. I was in a similar situation when I moved into my house, and I ended up ripping the old door out, reframing and installing an aluminum one instead. It worked out fine, but I think I would have saved myself a lot of grief and expense if I'd just planed the old door.

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  • PheezerPheezer Registered User, ClubPA
    edited July 2007
    Well if he decides to take the door off its hinges and strip all the hardware as he should (because let's face it operating a hand planer from a ladder doesn't spell genius) it could take a couple hours from start to finish.

    IT'S GOT ME REACHING IN MY POCKET IT'S GOT ME FORKING OVER CASH
    CUZ THERE'S SOMETHING IN THE MIDDLE AND IT'S GIVING ME A RASH
  • KatoKato Registered User
    edited July 2007
    A guy I know was saying that he sanded his down by hand when his door was doing this. With as much as it sticks, I really think I would have to sand it down a fair amount, but I could be wrong. I might look in to getting some sandpaper and try that out...

    What should I use to seal it? It's been painted this off white color and that color will be gone once I'm done sanding it. Any suggestions?

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  • PheezerPheezer Registered User, ClubPA
    edited July 2007
    When you're buying sand paper, pick up all of the off white-ish paint samples you can find, and pick the one that matches closest. Or just re-paint the door.

    IT'S GOT ME REACHING IN MY POCKET IT'S GOT ME FORKING OVER CASH
    CUZ THERE'S SOMETHING IN THE MIDDLE AND IT'S GIVING ME A RASH
  • FyreWulffFyreWulff Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 2007
    even "hollow" doors usually have a good 2 inches of wood on the knob side. So you should be able to plane it either way.

  • AtomBombAtomBomb Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    DrDizaster wrote: »
    Well if he decides to take the door off its hinges and strip all the hardware as he should (because let's face it operating a hand planer from a ladder doesn't spell genius) it could take a couple hours from start to finish.

    Unless he's a midget, he shouldn't need a ladder to plane a door. Just take the hardware off the doorknob side.

    I just got a 3DS XL. Add me! 2879-0925-7162
  • NewtonNewton Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    AtomBomb wrote: »
    DrDizaster wrote: »
    Well if he decides to take the door off its hinges and strip all the hardware as he should (because let's face it operating a hand planer from a ladder doesn't spell genius) it could take a couple hours from start to finish.

    Unless he's a midget, he shouldn't need a ladder to plane a door. Just take the hardware off the doorknob side.

    If it is swelling due to humidity, it is most likely swelling all around and he would probably want to sand/plane the top as well. I'd second taking the door off the hinges if this is the route you go. Although if you plane it down so that if fits right, it is going to shrink when the humidity drops in the winter, and you may end up with a drafty door. The best long term solution would probably be to just replace the door with a metal one.

  • PheezerPheezer Registered User, ClubPA
    edited July 2007
    AtomBomb wrote: »
    DrDizaster wrote: »
    Well if he decides to take the door off its hinges and strip all the hardware as he should (because let's face it operating a hand planer from a ladder doesn't spell genius) it could take a couple hours from start to finish.

    Unless he's a midget, he shouldn't need a ladder to plane a door. Just take the hardware off the doorknob side.

    Using power tools over your head is not a good idea. And unless you define "midget" as anyone under 7 feet tall...

    IT'S GOT ME REACHING IN MY POCKET IT'S GOT ME FORKING OVER CASH
    CUZ THERE'S SOMETHING IN THE MIDDLE AND IT'S GIVING ME A RASH
  • AtomBombAtomBomb Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Yeah, I'll give you the power tools thing. I was thinking he could use something like this:

    ln60.jpg

    Less chance to screw up too, if you're unfamiliar with using a power planer.

    I just got a 3DS XL. Add me! 2879-0925-7162
  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 2007
    Newton wrote: »
    AtomBomb wrote: »
    DrDizaster wrote: »
    Well if he decides to take the door off its hinges and strip all the hardware as he should (because let's face it operating a hand planer from a ladder doesn't spell genius) it could take a couple hours from start to finish.

    Unless he's a midget, he shouldn't need a ladder to plane a door. Just take the hardware off the doorknob side.

    If it is swelling due to humidity, it is most likely swelling all around and he would probably want to sand/plane the top as well. I'd second taking the door off the hinges if this is the route you go. Although if you plane it down so that if fits right, it is going to shrink when the humidity drops in the winter, and you may end up with a drafty door. The best long term solution would probably be to just replace the door with a metal one.
    Drafts are easy to fix with one of those cloth-tube-full-of-sand things though. And/or one of those rubber aprons one can affix to exterior doors.

    tmsig.jpg
  • supabeastsupabeast Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Newton wrote: »
    AtomBomb wrote: »
    DrDizaster wrote: »
    Well if he decides to take the door off its hinges and strip all the hardware as he should (because let's face it operating a hand planer from a ladder doesn't spell genius) it could take a couple hours from start to finish.

    Unless he's a midget, he shouldn't need a ladder to plane a door. Just take the hardware off the doorknob side.

    If it is swelling due to humidity, it is most likely swelling all around and he would probably want to sand/plane the top as well. I'd second taking the door off the hinges if this is the route you go. Although if you plane it down so that if fits right, it is going to shrink when the humidity drops in the winter, and you may end up with a drafty door. The best long term solution would probably be to just replace the door with a metal one.

    Metal doors and frames will still swell on hot days if they’re in the sun.

  • KatoKato Registered User
    edited July 2007
    supabeast wrote: »
    Newton wrote: »
    AtomBomb wrote: »
    DrDizaster wrote: »
    Well if he decides to take the door off its hinges and strip all the hardware as he should (because let's face it operating a hand planer from a ladder doesn't spell genius) it could take a couple hours from start to finish.

    Unless he's a midget, he shouldn't need a ladder to plane a door. Just take the hardware off the doorknob side.

    If it is swelling due to humidity, it is most likely swelling all around and he would probably want to sand/plane the top as well. I'd second taking the door off the hinges if this is the route you go. Although if you plane it down so that if fits right, it is going to shrink when the humidity drops in the winter, and you may end up with a drafty door. The best long term solution would probably be to just replace the door with a metal one.

    Metal doors and frames will still swell on hot days if they’re in the sun.
    It's in the garage, so it won't come in contact with much direct sunlight or anything. Just the heat of a closed up garage and whatever heat from inside the house.

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