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External French Door Problems

External French doors are a beautiful addition to your home. They are generally quite low on maintenance and offer some great benefits to your home.

Like everything, however, external French doors can sometimes need a bit of attention. Although these problems are rare, here are some solutions to issues faced by homeowners with French doors.

Why won’t my external French doors lock?

French door unlocked

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

If the lock is stuck or if the key won’t turn, it’ll probably be due to obstruction in the mechanism. Or, if you’ve had your door for a long time the cylinder itself may have broken due to wear and tear.

If there is something in the way, then the only way to fix it is to remove the locking mechanism from the door. You can do this by unscrewing the locking strip. When you’ve taken out all the necessary screws and the strip is off, the lock should just pull out of its position.

Once you’ve pulled the lock out, you need to find the object affecting the lock and remove it. Place the lock back into its compartment along with the locking strip and all the screws. Your lock should work properly now.

If there is visible damage to the lock, you will need to replace your lock. This could well be caused by general wear and tear over the years.

Why don’t they close properly?

If your doors aren’t closing properly this can be a great security and efficiency concern as they will lose warmth. There are quite a few reasons why your French doors aren’t closing properly.

To find where the problem is occurring, try to shut the door as far as you can. Looking at the point where the door stops. Look around the perimeter of the door, checking if the door and door frame catch at any point, or if the doors overlap slightly. This will help you find the issue; make a note of what you find.

If the doors look like they’re sagging or fitting lower than they should, you may need to tighten the hinges on the door frame. Over time the screws holding the hinges can slowly loosen. We recommend checking these every so often. Sometimes the screws will turn but the hinge won’t tighten, try replacing the screws with bigger screws, giving the screws more material to grip onto. If this doesn’t work either, fill the hole with matchsticks or wood filler. Although this seems unconventional, it’s an efficient fix.

If you find that your issue is the doors clearing each other, you will need to place a screw into the centre of the upper jamb. Once it is aligned in the centre of the jamb, sink the screw then cover the hole with some filler.

If the first two steps didn’t work, you can try to use a hand plane to smooth the edges of your doors. This is a more severe fix, only to be done if you find the other two solutions aren’t helping your doors at all. You will need to take care when doing this, make sure to use the right measurements. If it isn’t done correctly, it can make the issue worse.

Ensure you have the original documents about the doors; these will include advice about how much the doors can be trimmed by. Before you take the door off its hinges, mark the places that need trimming. You need to remove the doors and place them on a sawhorse if possible, if not something flat and sturdy like a table. You can then use your hand plane to remove excess wood off your door. Take off small pieces, you can always take more off but you can’t put it back on. You want to remove about 1/16 inches. If you think you’ve taken enough off, place the doors back on the hinges. If the problem is resolved, then you’re done. If they still need more taking off, place them on the sawhorse again and repeat the process.

Why am I having issues with sticking external French doors?

closed french door

The first thing you need to do when you have sticking doors is find out why they’re sticking. To do this, close the doors and look at the gap between the door and the door frame and the gap between the two doors. If you see a gap that is very thin, this could be the issue.

You can also use a piece of paper. Just simply push it through the gap and drag it around the perimeter of the door. If it gets caught, the issue lies there.

Swing the doors back and forth and listen for any noises such as creaking sounds. If there is a strange noise that occurs while the doors are moving, the issue is most likely with the hinges. This can be resolved by simply applying some oil or lubricant to the hinges. If you find the screws for the hinges are loose, you need to tighten the screws. If the screws are turning but the hinge isn’t tightening, you may need to use bigger screws, or fill the hole with matchsticks. If the doors were sticking with the door or were catching each other, fixing the hinges should fix this issue.

If your external doors are exposed to the elements and changes in temperature they can expand in size, which can cause problems if the gap between your doors isn’t very big to begin with. The slightest expansion in the wood can make the doors stick if they’re too close together. If this is the case, you will need to trim the doors slightly, ensuring you don’t take too much off. You only want to shave enough off to make sure it fits and no longer sticks.

The last thing you can do is to clean the door free of any debris. Wipe around the door with a damp cloth ensuring there is nothing between the doors. When the perimeter of the door is clean, wipe over with a dry cloth.

There are the most common issues with French doors explained and hopefully fixed. Most of the fixes shouldn’t take up too much of your time. However, it is handy to look after your doors by wiping the perimeter and checking the hinges often.