How To Fix a Stuck Door Hinge: The Complete Guide

Friction between the hinges and the door frame is among the leading causes of sticking doors. Unfortunately, it can be quite a hassle when a door hinge gets stuck. Needless to say, the stuck hinges can damage your door if you keep forcing it to open or close. 

You can fix a stuck door hinge by assessing the situation, gathering the tools, removing the hinge, cleaning the area, and reattaching the hinge. The focus is to keep the surface between the door hinge and frame as clean as possible. Dust and lack of lubrication are the leading causes of friction.

In the rest of this article, I’ll take you through each step you need to take to fix a stuck door hinge. I’ll also discuss the different reasons your door hinge may get stuck. Let’s get started!

1. Assess the Situation

Most doors have between two to three hinges depending on the level of security needed. Exterior doors can have more.

When a door hinge sticks, it doesn’t mean that all the hinges have an issue. Therefore, giving yourself more work by fixing all the hinges is not worth it. However, there is no harm in fixing all the hinges for maintenance purposes if you have the time and resources.

Assessing the situation will enable you to identify the stuck hinge; is it the top, middle, or bottom hinge? You also want to know whether the hinge sticks when closing or opening the door.

Some ways to assess the door include:

  • Visually inspecting the door hinge to see if there is any visible dirt or damage.
  • Testing the movement of the door by trying to open and close it.
  • Opening and closing the door while checking for any squeaking noises.

2. Gather the Tools

After assessing the situation, you’ll need the right tools to get the work done in one go without running back and forth to the hardware store. 

Some necessary tools are:

  • A screwdriver
  • Drill
  • Sandpaper
  • Lubricant (oil or WD-40)
  • 3-inch screws
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Drop cloth
  • Bucket
  • Clean water

3. Remove the Stuck Hinge

Removing the door hinge allows you to access its interior parts and the frame surface to clean and lubricate it. It also allows you to assess whether the hinge is cracked from the internal part, contributing to the sticking. 

It’s worth noting that care must be taken when removing the stuck door hinge. A slight mistake can lead to damage, especially when using the drill.

Here is the correct procedure to remove the door hinge safely:

  1. Assess the hinge leaves: Check whether the leaves are rounded or square. You must also note the number of screws on each leaf. This step is essential if the hinge is damaged and will need a replacement. If that’s your case, you’ll need a replacement hinge with similar features. 
  2. Remove the screws: Use a screwdriver or a drill to remove the screws holding the hinge on the door frame.
  3. Tap with a hammer: Due to the duration of stay, the hinge might be tightly fixed on the frame. The best way to get it off after removing the screws is to tap it slightly from the backside with a hammer.
  4. Remove the hinge: With the screw and hinge leaves loose, you can now remove it from the door frame. 

Watch the YouTube video below if you need more clarification about the above process:

Once you’ve removed the hinge, inspect it for any breakage or cracks. In case of any damage, the hinge will need a replacement. If not, you can clean the hinge, including the door frame. 

4. Clean the Hinge and Frame

The main goal of fixing a stuck door hinge is to prevent future sticking. Thus, the focus should be removing dirt build-up on the surface between the hinge and frame.

Dirt and grime can build up within the hinge pin and the door frame, making closing and opening the door a hassle.

Door hinges are usually fixed so there is a 1/8-inch (3.18-mm) space between the frame and the door. This space is crucial as it allows the door to move freely as you close or open it. However, this is not the case when dirt collects within the space.

Here is how to clean the hinge and frame:

  1. Make a cleaning solution: Dilute a small amount of dish soap in water. It’s best to use warm water to dissolve the dirt and grime build-up better.
  2. Clean the hinge: Dip a rag in the cleaning solution and use it to wipe down the surface of the hinge leaves. You can use a toothbrush for hard-to-reach areas within the hinges.
  3. Clean the frame: Dip a clean rag in the cleaning solution and use it to wipe down the frame area where the hinge was attached.
  4. Dry the cleaned areas: Use a dry rag to remove excess water from the hinge and frame surface. Let it air dry before moving on to lubricate the door hinge.

5. Lubricate the Hinge

You can restore seized hinges to life with a good lubricant. It helps smoothen the movement and prevent future sticking.

The best lubricants for door hinges are oil and WD-40. However, if you want a long-lasting solution, it’s best to use silicone spray as it doesn’t attract dirt build-up as oil does.

To lubricate the hinge, spray a small amount of lubricant on each leaf. You can also use a cloth to spread the lubricant evenly. 

You should spread a drop cloth under the door to prevent lubricant drips from staining your floor or carpet.

6. Reattach the Hinge on the Door Frame

Reattaching the hinge is a step that needs extra care. The wrong reattachment will cause more harm than good since it will hinder hinge rotation. You must note the pin and leaf direction before proceeding with the reattachment.

Here’s how to reattach the hinge:

  1. Note the top of the hinge pin: Door hinges have a pin whose top resembles a nail top. This is an essential point to note as you must attach the hinge with the top of the pin facing upwards (refer to the video above for clarification).
  2. Position the leaves to their initial position: It’s best to place the hinge back in its original spot on the frame. Place it so the leaves will fit flush against each other when closing the door.
  3. Secure with screws: Use a screwdriver or drill to secure the hinge leaves onto the frame. Ensure they are tightly fixed but not overly tightened to prevent bending or breakage. You may also opt to replace the screws if they are old.
  4. Tighten the strike plate: A loose strike plate can limit the door’s movement by not allowing it to shut correctly. Inspect the strike plate and tighten its screws if necessary.
  5. Lubricate the attached hinge: Spray or spread lubricant onto the hinge leaves to smoothen its movement.

7. Test the Door

After fixing the hinge, make sure to test if the door is functioning correctly. Open and close the door a few times and observe any sticking or difficulty in movement. If any, make adjustments as necessary.

You should also check if the door is aligned with the frame. A misaligned door can cause the hinge to stick or the strike plate not to function correctly. You can use a carpenter’s level tool or ask for assistance in checking and adjusting the door alignment.

8. Trim Any Swollen Parts of the Door

When you started assessing the door’s situation, you might have noticed some door sections that rub against the frame, contributing to the sticking problem. 

Doors, especially wooden ones, swell when exposed to high humidity. According to Purdue University, wood absorbs moisture and swells when the air is humid. Consequently, a swollen door will rub against the frame and cause difficulty in movement.

To address this problem, use a hand planer or sandpaper to trim down the swollen areas of the door until they fit correctly in the frame without rubbing. Remember to take off only small amounts at a time to prevent damaging the door’s appearance.

Additionally, you can prevent door swelling by ensuring proper ventilation in your house and using a dehumidifier if you live in areas with high humidity. 

9. Refinish the Door

The trimming process may slightly alter the door’s appearance. Applying a fresh coat of paint or stain will do the trick to restore its original appearance or enhance the aesthetic.

Remember to clean and sand the door before refinishing it to ensure a smooth application and a long-lasting finish. You may also opt for professional help in refinishing your door to achieve a polished result.

And that’s it; you’ve successfully fixed your stuck door hinge and possibly prevented future sticking problems. 

Reasons a Door Hinge Gets Stuck

A sticking door hinge is the last thing any homeowner wants to deal with. It’s an inconvenience and could potentially be a safety issue in emergencies. 

Here are the main reasons a door hinge gets stuck:

Rust Build-up

Door hinges, especially the exterior ones, are prone to rust. Exterior door hinges are exposed to elements like moisture and heat, causing rust to accumulate and limit movement.

Rusting may be your worst nightmare if you live in areas with high humidity or during winter. The combination of cold and moisture speeds up the rusting process. 

Loose Screws

As door hinges are frequently used, their screws may become loose over time, leading to the sticking issue. 

You can notice when your door has loose hinge screws by listening for a creaking sound when opening or closing the door. Loose screws can also cause misalignment in the door.

Swollen Door

As mentioned earlier, high humidity can cause wooden doors to swell and stick against the frame. This is especially common during rainy or humid seasons.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to prevent doors from swelling since high humidity is a natural occurrence. However, proper ventilation and using a dehumidifier can help minimize the problem.

Improper Installation

It’s not uncommon for door hinges to be improperly installed during construction or renovation. This can lead to sticking issues down the line as the door may not align properly with the frame, causing friction in the movement.

To prevent this, ensure to hire an experienced contractor for your renovation projects. Double-check their work before completely closing off the construction area to avoid any inconveniences in the future.

Misaligned Door

A misaligned door can also contribute to sticking problems. When the door isn’t correctly aligned with the frame, it may rub against it, causing difficulty in its movement.

You can check for misalignment by closing the door and checking if there’s a gap between the door and the frame. If there is, you can use wooden shims to level out the door and fix the misalignment issue.

Foundation Shifting

Your house might experience foundation shifting if it doesn’t undergo proper pre-build inspection. Although you may not notice a physical foundational change, it can lead to misalignment in the door and sticking issues.

If you suspect your house has foundation shifting, it’s best to contact a professional to inspect and assess the situation before fixing it. Foundation shifts can cause extensive damage if not adequately addressed.

Foundation shifting can change the shape of doors, windows, and, ultimately, the house. It can also cause cracks in the walls and floors. 

Latch Problems

Door hinges may stick due to issues with the door latch. And more often than not, latch problems are caused by misalignment.

When the latch isn’t correctly aligned with the strike plate, it may cause the door to stick as it’s unable to close properly. You can fix this problem by adjusting or replacing the latch.

Final Thoughts

There you have it. Hopefully, this guide has given you insight into the possible causes of a sticking door hinge and how to fix them. 

Don’t wait until it’s too late to address the issue since a sticking door can be a menace and even dangerous in emergencies. Therefore, you should take preventive measures by regularly maintaining your doors and ensuring proper installation during construction or renovation.


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