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  • Writer's pictureLanny Freng

I'd say 7 out of 10 homes have at least one...

Updated: Mar 7, 2023

One of the most common defects I find is a door that does not latch. Today we are going to cover what causes it and how you can repair it. For the vast majority of homes, this is caused by some minor settlement in a home since it was built. After a house is built the house framing moves a bit due to shrinkage. It does not take much movement to offset the latch from the strike plate. There can be installation errors that cause this too but this is less common. It is not uncommon when I inspect a house that is 1-2 years old to find several doors that do not latch due to this movement. Fortunately, it can be a pretty easy fix and most homeowners should be able to take a stab at it on their own.

First step - Locate the top hinge on the jamb side. Remove two of the screws in the jamb side of the hinge and reinstall two longer 2.5-inch screws in the same holes. Snug these up but do not overtighten right off the bat. Once they are snug slowly tighten them. You should see the hinge pull toward the jamb a bit as the longer screws bite into the wall framing behind the jamb. It does not take much to pull the door up on the latch side so go incrementally. You don't want to damage the door frame or trim by cranking them in too far. If you are lucky this may be the only step you need to do to realign the latch/strike plate. If this didn't work on to step two...

Step Two... If the first step did not move the door enough adding a shim to the lower hinge will help move it a bit more. Loosen all the screws on the lower hinge (jamb side) and slide a hinge shim between the hinge and jamb. These can be purchased at most home improvement stores pretty cheaply. If you can't locate them a couple of pieces of thicker card stock can be trimmed and used. Tighten the screws back down and you are done. Installing these will push the strike plate side of the door up realigning the door so it will latch. If you see that your latch is riding across the top of the strike plate this same method can be used just swap the method on each hinge and it will push the door latch down instead of up.

In some instances, these two steps will not move the door enough. If this is the case there is a good chance the door is going to need to be reset altogether. This is going to involve pulling the trim off and removing the nails that hold the frame in. The frame can then be installed with the correct alignment, and the trim reinstalled.

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We are now offering light handyman services. Check out our website for more information on this service.

(Due to conflict of interest and ethics requirements, we do not perform repair work on homes

we have inspected in the prior 12 months.)

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