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Stuck Windows and Doors

Sticking windows and doors are a problem that can frustrate many homeowners. What can you do to avoid this turning into a recurring problem?

Interior door sticking to floor.

Fixing Stuck Windows and Doors

Have you started to notice that one or more of your windows or doors tends to have a hard time opening? Maybe you feel like you can leave it open or closed, but you can’t move it between the two. This is a problem that many homeowners call a “stuck window” or “stuck door.”

There are many approaches to stuck windows and doors. Some homeowners just leave it in their preferred position and otherwise ignore it, hoping the problem won’t continue. Others replace the window or door in question, hoping that it’ll fix the problem. However, this can be a very serious foundation concern, which is why you should consider it much more seriously.

Why Do Stuck Windows and Doors Occur?

There isn’t a single reason for stuck windows and doors to happen. In fact, there are several reasons you might notice this problem. Here are a few of the problems that may cause stuck windows and doors.

  • Natural Occurrences 

Soil concerns are a significant problem for stuck windows and doors. If your stuck windows and doors are happening because of foundation settlement, it could be because the weather has caused the soil underneath your home to shift and move out of the way. That can be genuinely detrimental to your home’s structural health as a whole.

If you’ve noticed an uncommon amount of rain recently, you may want to check and see whether that rain has impacted the area under your home. Additionally, because windows and doors may start to stick due to warping from rain, it’s important to check and make sure none of the rain is coming inside the window and door frames.

  • Poor Soil Preparation

Another thing that can contribute to soil issues is poor soil preparation from the beginning. When a construction crew first pours your home’s foundation, they need to follow many steps to make sure you have a stable foundation. When the construction crew cuts these steps short or doesn’t follow them to the letter, you could end up with a foundation that doesn’t have a great soil base.

Soil preparation is an important element of having a well-functioning home. Unfortunately, when any area of the soil doesn’t have proper preparation, it’s more likely that you’re going to see soil preparation issues throughout your home. These soil preparation issues can have a variety of symptoms, but one of them is doors and windows sticking.

  • Inadequate Foundation Drainage or General Waterproofing Problems

Although foundation settlement is one possible cause of sticking doors and windows, frame warping is another. This occurs when water gets into the door or window’s frame, causing it to warp out of place and therefore making it difficult for you to open or close the door or window. However, because the outside of the frame typically has strong waterproofing features, it usually only occurs when water gets into the frame.

If you’re noticing a frame warping problem for doors and windows, you should take a step back and ask yourself why that frame warping is a problem in the first place. What’s causing the frame warping? More than likely, you’re having waterproofing problems. If you don’t fix the waterproofing concerns, you’re going to end up with the same problem in your next set of doors and windows.

What Are the Solutions for Stuck Windows and Doors?

How can you fix stuck windows and doors? Although there are many purported fixes out there, there are only a few that will work. Here’s what you need to know about fixes that people may suggest for stuck windows and doors.

  • Replacing Windows and Doors 

One common “DIY” fix is to replace the windows and doors. This may include replacing only the center of the window or door or it may include replacing the entirety of the section, including the frame around it. This is certainly a very unobtrusive fix, and it’s one that may work if the problem lies with the door or window itself. However, more often than not, it’s not the answer.

If the sticking issue is coming from a foundation concern or a waterproofing problem, just replacing the window or door won’t do anything. It may work for a short period before returning to its original sticking problems or it may not work at all. The fact is that you need to fix the underlying problem, not just the symptoms you can immediately see.

  • Avoiding Moisture Around Door and Window Frames

Another potential fix is in avoiding moisture around your door and window frames. You may be able to divert the water with gutters or downspouts, so your door or window frame isn’t constantly bearing the weight and moisture hitting the frame.

If you’re going to utilize this route, you must invest in waterproofing measures for your door and window frames. You can’t just try to avoid water pressing up against your home’s window and door frames. You need to make sure that even if water comes up against it, the frame can handle it. This is especially important when considering basement waterproofing to protect basement doors and windows.

  • Underpinning Your Foundation

If the problem lies largely with the foundation, you may want to underpin or pier the foundation to avoid problems with it in the future. The process of underpinning/piering helps to not just stabilize your foundation, but can potentially raise it back up to its original height. That can make it much easier for you to avoid current and future foundation problems.

It’s common for door and window sticking to happen when your foundation has had structural concerns. Specifically, if one side of the foundation has sunk more than the other side, the door and window frames could be unbalanced, leading to one half of the frame scraping up against the door or window. With foundation underpinning, you’ll be more likely to raise the foundation to a state where frames no longer scrape against each other.

FAQs About Window and Door Sticking

Initially, you may think the only problem with stuck doors and windows is a cosmetic one. If you can just keep the door or window closed or open, what’s the problem? Two main problems go along with stuck windows and doors.

  • Annoying to Deal With

The biggest problem for many homeowners when they first start to experience stuck windows and doors is sheer annoyance. After all, you may be unable to use these entryways normally, or may even find they can’t be used at all. If you’re trying to air out the home, keep out drafts, or avoid water or pests coming in, this can only make day-to-day life even worse.

Of course, this issue can be ignored. You may choose not to use those doors or windows, or you may try to seal any gaps that are created by some parts sticking, while other parts are loose. Unfortunately, this only covers up the root issue and allows the problem to escalate. Eventually, you may find the window sills or door frames beginning to crack or bow from the pressure. It may even damage the windows and doors themselves. 

  • A Symptom of a Deeper Problem 

Sure, the sticking itself is annoying, but it’s not the main problem. The main problem is that stuck doors and windows are a symptom of a deeper concern. Your stuck doors and windows are telling you about a structural concern. If you want to avoid future problems with your structure, you need to act on this before it escalates into costly repairs.

Costly repairs could come about if you let your foundation, basement, crawl space, support beams, or soil around your home continue to falter. While sticking doors and windows are irritating and cause problems of their own, they ultimately serve as the heads-up you need to locate the real problem. When you handle home problems as early as possible, you’ll typically be able to fix the problem more effectively.

Have you noticed that you only have sticking doors and windows on one side of your home? You may have noticed that your windows and doors don’t seem to stick equally on other sides of your house. Here’s what you need to know about this problem.

  • One Side of the Foundation is Settling More Than the Other 

If stuck doors and windows are happening only on one side of your home, you may also have uneven floors across your home. That indicates one side of your home is experiencing differential settlement, which means the foundation has settled more on one side than the other side.

This problem can show up as just one door or window sticking or as multiple doors and windows sticking on a single side of the home. No matter how it’s showing up, this indicates that there are serious problems with foundation settlement, but only on one side. Excess foundation settlement will eventually snowball into issues on both sides of your home, or even walls collapsing. 

  •  Any Amount of Sticking Can Be a Problem

Even though you might have only noticed one side of the home having issues with sticking doors and windows, it’s also important to note that any amount of sticking can indicate a problem. It doesn’t have to be a lot of settling or sticking. Parts of your foundation can have settlement that you’re not noticing yet.

Whether you only have one door or window sticking or many, it typically indicates that your foundation is having problems with sinking. This must be addressed, regardless of the extent of the concern. Sinking foundations will cause more secondary problems to your walls, floors, and structural beams if left unattended.

Add-ons don’t pose a greater risk to your foundation, but they can lead to existing issues getting worse. You may notice this when doors and windows begin to stick in this new addition. 

  • A Different Risk

Of course, an add-on will be at risk of sticking windows and doors, just like the rest of your home–but it will face other risks that are slightly different. When you build a new room, deck, or even a sunroom on your home, that means your add-on’s structure will sit differently, may be constructed in a higher or lower quality than the rest of your home, and may have different foundational requirements.

Because of this, the add-on may be resting on a different type of soil, it may be pulling too heavily on your home, or–if it’s dealing with any structural damage–it may spread mold or wood rot to your main home. These underlying issues can also result in your main home’s foundation being affected, which will cause more sticking windows and doors. Understanding your add-on risks is crucial for a better fix.

  •  Building at a Different Time

When you manage your add-on, it’s important to remember that you’re building it at a different time than the rest of the home. In some cases, you’re building it decades after the rest of the structure was completed. That means your add-on will likely use different materials and building processes, This fact will impact the way you handle the doors and windows there.

In general, you just want to remember that the add-on is utilizing a completely different structure than the rest of your home. Don’t just assume your add-on is healthy because the rest of the home is healthy. Instead, inspect both separately and assume they have separate needs.

The concept of fixing stuck doors and windows on your own is one that can be very appealing, especially if you tend to be able to fix things on your own as a whole. However, it’s not something that you can do on your own. 

  • Purported DIY Fixes

There are many purported DIY fixes for stuck windows and doors out there, but most of these DIY fixes don’t do much. They tend to be short-term fixes that can worsen some of your problems. For example, getting a new door might be helpful in the short term, but the problem probably isn’t the door: it’s probably foundation settlement.

You can see the damage that these DIY fixes can end up creating when it comes to your home. At best, they could stave off the problem for a few weeks or months, but that’s not good enough for your home’s health. You want a fix that will solve the underlying concerns.

  • A Permanent Expert Fix

If you want a permanent fix for stuck windows and doors, you’ll need to consult with a foundation expert who can help with the problem. A professional will be able to tell whether these stuck windows and doors are happening due to foundation settlement or for another reason. Getting a permanent fix tends to be only attainable with an expert.

A Groundworks expert will be able to give you the information you need to make a choice and fix your sticking doors and windows for good. That’s what you need if you’re trying to create a healthier home. Schedule an appointment today to work through your sticking doors and windows more easily.

You Need an Expert to Help You with Your Stuck Windows and Doors

Stuck windows and doors don’t come from a single source, nor can you solve them through a single method. If you want to fix your stuck windows and doors, you instead need to find out what’s causing them. From there, you can fix the underlying cause and stop dealing with stuck windows and doors in the first place.

The process of diagnosing the cause of a stuck window or door is one that only an expert can do. A Groundworks foundation repair expert in your area can help you understand whether your stuck windows and doors are happening because of a foundation concern or not. You can request a free inspection to learn more about the root causes of these problems.

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