Ask Mr. Handyman: Side Entry Door


Mr. Handyman, the side door to our house—at this time—is sticking and is hard to get open. It appears to be getting caught on the bottom of the door, toward the hinge side. I said “at this time,” for the reason that the problem goes away when I finally get someone here to fix it. Then it comes back again days later. Why is that?

- Mrs. M. Addams, Monroe, CT

Dear M,

Your door problem is very common and comes from natural causes. So, here’s my pitch on “sometimes” sticky doors.

Fact; doors can have problems that tend to come and go at a whim. This bit of information can also be carried over to windows. All the door or window problems in your category that I have ever seen have been accredited to a very natural phenomenon known as the weather. In fact, the weather is the cause of most problems to a house’s exterior. This of course includes doors and windows.

So now let’s see what—in the weather—can affect that side door this way. The two main characters here are temperature and humidity. You have given me two good clues by the way, and they are that it sticks at the bottom and on one side.

The base under the door is called a threshold. It is cut on an angle so that any water will flow outside. This is very obvious. What sometimes happens though is the waterproofing paint or varnish wears off or water can get under it and freeze. The wood either swells or the threshold is forced up by the ice. Since I received you question this winter, which has been rainy, warm and cold, I will guess that this part may need tending.

Here is what I would do, if it’s sticking or not. First, check for any rot on either the door or threshold. Rotted wood is a sponge to water. If so, it’s best to replace the whole part. If nothing shows rotting, then I would plane the door bottom where it sticks. Then sand, prime and paint or varnish both the door bottom and threshold. Along with this, caulk around the threshold so as to keep water from sipping under and freezing.

Mr. Handyman technicians hold years of experience dealing with problems like this. If you feel unsure about being a do-it-yourself person, just give us a call and say “Help,” and help will be there just when you need it, “ON TIME.” You can also take comfort knowing that the work will be, “DONE RIGHT,” with 100 percent satisfaction guaranteed.

If you decide to have a Mr. Handyman visit you, our experienced techs would be able to help you with this and any other jobs you wish to have done. No job is too small; we want to make you satisfied by living up to our motto, “On Time Done Right.”
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