Door Refuses to Shut and Latch


How many readers have doors within their homes, that simply refuse to latch?

This seems to be a very typical issue that most homeowners simply either live with, or simply keep the door open. This is a problem, if the door latching is necessary for privacy or security.

What are some of the typical reasons that prevent doors from closing and latching properly ?

1.) The most common reason for a door not closing correctly, is the misalignment of the door strike and the actual sliding mechanism that is activated by the door handle. This mechanism is normally a wedge shaped cylinder that projects into the door strike when the door is closed and latched. Using common sense, it is necessary that the door strike and the sliding mechanism that enters into the door strike, are both properly aligned. This alignment can normally be observed by looking directly at the hardware, at the level of the door strike. You will be able to see if the alignment of the strike and the projected latch piece is properly lined up. It is recommended that if the alignment does not appear to be accurate, a simple marking with a black marker can be used to identify what portion of the assembly is hitting, or not allowing the proper functioning of the latching mechanism. This alignment is easily noted by a direct frontal observation of the assembly.

The fix: Normally the fix for this misalignment involves the repositioning of the door strike. This repositioning will require that the strike assembly be realigned with the latching mechanism on the door. There is not much that can be done with the alignment of the actual door latch on the door itself. Any repositioning of this, would be a total reinstallation of the hardware on the door. This is normally difficult, due to the necessity to have cut and bored the door, for the initial installation of the hardware. The easiest and most common correction is performed on the door strike, that is located on the surface of the door jamb. Sometimes the screws that hold the strike in place can be simply loosened to allow the strike to be repositioned. In other more extreme misalignment situations, the actual strike will need to be removed and the cutout in the door jamb adjusted.

2.) The more difficult misalignment of this mechanism, is in the direction of the door swing, due to the fact that this alignment cannot be easily observed. Is the strike and the latch aligning in the direction of the swing. In other words, does the door swing deep enough into the jamb assembly to allow the latch to slide into the strike. If the door is aligned in the vertical direction and the latching is not positive, then the next most logical issue is that the door is not moving into the opening deep enough, to allow the latch to fully insert itself into the door strike. Many times this issue is temporarily solved by slamming the door hard. This slamming pushes the door deeper into the jamb, and in some cases is enough to allow the latch to secure itself into the strike. This is not a recommended solution, and will result in repeated obnoxious slamming of the door, just to shut it.

The fix: Normally the fix for this misalignment involves the repositioning of the door strike. This repositioning will require that the strike assembly be realigned with the latching mechanism on the door. There is not much that can be done with the alignment of the actual door strike from the door itself. Any repositioning of this, would be a total reinstallation of the hardware on the door. This is normally difficult due to the necessity to have cut and bored the door for the initial installation of the hardware. The easiest and most commonly correction is performed on the door strike that is located on the surface of the door jamb. In some instances the loosening of the screws that hold the strike plate to the jamb will be enough to allow adjustment to allow the latching mechanism to engage, however, again like the vertical adjustment, the horizontal adjustment may require a total repositioning of the strike plate.

3.) The most difficult issue that causes a door not to shut, is the misalignment of the door hinges and the door and door jamb itself. This normally occurs if the door has warped due to moisture or the installation is not accurate.

The fix: If the door is substantially warped, the door will not align with the jamb and must be replaced. There is not much that can be done with a warped door, other than live with it or replace it. This is the reason that it is very important that all doors be treated with protection, whether it be paint or other sealers to prevent and water to penetrate the door. This is assuming the door is wood. If the door is fiberglass, metal or other synthetic substances, then the warping of the door will not be as acute, and is normally extremely limited.

If the installation is inaccurate and the hinges do not align, then the entire door assembly must be realigned and corrected. This correction will normally be professionally performed, due to the nature of the work. Most homeowners do not have the skill and the experience to properly correct a misaligned door, jamb and hinges.

I have corrected a number of doors by merely grinding the interior of the door strike to allow the latching mechanism to slip into the door strike. I would recommend that a small grinder head be purchased, that will fit into your screw gun. This grinding head can be purchased in a cone-like configuration. This configuration will allow you to grind the interior of the door strike to accommodate the latching mechanism. In many cases, this is a much simpler method of accommodating the door strike and latching mechanism.

There is nothing more frustrating than a door that needs to be slammed, lifted up or pushed down to allow the latching mechanism to work. If the door does latch by any of these methods, this will indicate that the latching mechanism is not aligning properly.

In most cases, the solution to any door not latching, is a simple observation that will determine why the latching mechanism is not aligning with the strike and the adjustment of the door strike. Once you have properly adjusted a few doors, you will understand the simple concept of aligning, and you should be able to eliminate doors that refuse to properly latch and the frustration that these type of doors will produce.

There could be a time when there is more to the problem, such as a misaligned door opening, the door is not correctly sized for the opening, the hinges are crooked or the entire door and jamb assembly is inaccurate and will require a professional carpenter to adjust and correct. This is the exception, and not the norm, most doors can be properly corrected by the homeowner if you use patience and common sense.

 

Good luck!

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