How to Fix an Exterior Door That Won't Open

Wooden exterior doors are susceptible to the weather and time. Because of this there will come a time when the door will stick or not open without much force. The most common causes of this are loose hinges or door swelling. You can fix your exterior door and have the door operating correctly. Attempt the primary fix of the hinges first before attempting to repair door swelling.

Hand holding screwdriver
credit: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

Adjust The Hinges

Step 1

Open the door completely and tighten any loose hinge screws with a Phillips-head screwdriver. Sticking doors are most often a result of loose hinges. If you have screws that will not tighten, you will need to remove the hinge.

Step 2

Remove the screws that secure the hinge to the door and frame. Sand the area clean by hand with medium grit sandpaper.

Step 3

Place wood glue around the end of wooden golf tees or pieces of wooden dowel. Place some glue in the existing hole in the door and jamb for the retaining screws.

Step 4

Tap the glue end of the golf tee or dowel into the hole with a hammer. Allow the glue to dry for several hours. Cut the dowel or golf tee flush with the surface of the door or jamb with a small saw or sharp utility knife.

Step 5

Place the hinge on the door and drill pilot holes for the retaining screws with a bit slightly smaller in diameter than the screw. Drill pilot holes in the jamb as well.

Step 6

Secure the hinge to the door with the retaining screws. Position the hinge on the jamb and secure the hinge with the retaining screws.

Shave The Door

Step 7

Open and close the door to locate the area that is sticking and preventing the door from operating correctly. Swelling of the door and frame will take place in hot summer humidity.

Step 8

Mark the area on the door that is binding with a pencil. Most likely the door will be sticking on the bottom or top corners.

Step 9

Open the door and insert a flathead screwdriver between the head of the pin and the hinge. The pin connects the two halves of each door hinge. Tap the handle of the screwdriver with a hammer to knock the pin out of the hinges. Remove the door from the opening and place the door on saw horses or a flat surface.

Step 10

Shave the area on the door where the sticking is occurring with a wood plane. Apply a coat of paint or stain on the area and allow the paint to dry.

Step 11

Reinstall the door back into the opening by securing the hinges together with the hinge pin.