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  • Writer's pictureEngineer Mike

Are sticky doors and door damage signs of structural problems?

Updated: Nov 21, 2023

Sticky or out-of-square exterior and interior doors are one of the first things homeowners notice when it comes to structural problems in a home. One sticky or out-of-square door can be an anomaly, but more than one door that does not close properly can indicate that the home is experiencing structural distress.


A racked door that will not close properly.
A racked door that will not close properly.

Door problems on the main and upper floors of the living area are typically due to foundation movement. In a finished basement, door problems can be caused by foundation or floor movement. The basement floor, typically a slab-on-grade (similar to a garage floor), can move upward and, if not adequately isolated with a gap between the floor surface and drywall edge, cause drywall cracks.





Doors that stick to their frames, are difficult to close or open, or will not close properly are conditions that often accompany cracks in drywall. A homeowner needs to know that any doors in the home that do not function properly are a serious life-safety issue. For example, imagine trying to open a stuck door during a fire or similar emergency.


Stuck doors can prohibit a person from proper egress from home during an emergency, such as a fire, gas leak, or flood. Sticky doors should be reported to the home builder if the home is still under warranty and repaired immediately.


 

Examples of Door Conditions


Out-of-square doorframe of a set of French doors.
Out-of-square doorframe of a set of French doors.


Out-of-square doorframe at an exterior door.
Out-of-square doorframe at an exterior door.




Out-of-Square doorframe in basement utility room door.
In the basement, an out-of-square doorframe can be caused either by the movement of the foundation or the basement floor system.


Out-of-square doorframe on the interior of home.
On the main floor, an out-of-square doorframe is most often caused by foundation movement.




Out-of-square doorframe at an exterior door.
Out-of-square doorframe at an exterior door.


Separation between the door panel and doorframe due to the racked doorframe condition.
Doors with excessive out-of-squareness (large gaps) can completely stop being functional. Doors that don’t operate properly prohibit proper egress.


Out-of-square wall opening at sliding closet doors.
Out-of-square wall opening at sliding closet doors - door cannot close properly.




Damaged doorframe due to out-of-square door frame.
Damaged paint on a doorframe due to sticky door.


Crack in drywall and a separation in trim on the top left corner of basement door.
Separations in trim and drywall cracks typically accompany out-of-square doorframes


Basement door that does not properly close.
In the basement, an out-of-square doorframe can be caused either by the movement of the foundation or the basement floor system.




Damaged exterior door and doorframe due to a sticky door.
Damaged door and doorframe due to a sticky door.


Crack and separation between bricks on exterior due to founation movement.
Damage to windows due to foundation movement can often cause damage to exterior façade elements.


A gap between door panel and doorframe on exterior door.
Doorframe that is severely out-of-square.




Diagonal drywall crack and separation in trim at top left corner of doorway.
Separations in trim and cracked drywall at the corner of an out-of-square doorframe.


Paint damage on doorframe of french doors.
Paint damage on the doorframe due to a sticky door.


If doors that stick slightly start getting worse over time, it may be necessary for the homeowner to have an engineering evaluation done of the home and lot.



 

I hope this information was helpful to you. For additional topics related to construction defects, go to SiteDamage.com.


Visit my photo collections page, which has examples of damage that can be due to construction defects.  





Mike

Engineer Mike





 


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