Self-closing hinges automatically close a door so that it doesn't remain ajar after you open it, a helpful feature on both interior and exterior doors. If your door has one or more self-closing hinges and it doesn't close automatically -- or if it closes too quickly and slams -- a simple tension adjustment gets it working properly. If cabinet doors have self-closing hinges, three screws adjust the door alignment, but you can't adjust the tension.
Adjusting a Self-Closing Door Hinge
Interior and exterior passage doors typically have three hinges, but only one or two of them are usually spring-loaded, which are the only ones you have to adjust. Your door may be fitted with one of two types: The first type has a slot for a hex wrench in the top, and the second makes use of a lever the size of a 6d finish nail to adjust tension.
Locate the spring-loaded hinge or hinges on the door and look on the top -- where the head of the hinge pin is located -- for a hex slot. If you see one, get a hex wrench that fits; a 1/4-inch hex wrench usually works. If you don't see a slot for a hex wrench, you'll need the adjustment lever that came with the hinge. If you don't have one, a 6d finish nail will do.
Note the three round slots for tension pins just under the head of the main hinge pin. You should see a small pin inserted in the one farthest to the right. This pin is keeping the tension in the spring; if you pull it out, the spring will suddenly unwind. Before you do that, make sure you can maintain the spring tension with the hex wrench or adjustment lever.
Insert the hex wrench in the slot in the top of the hinge or insert the adjustment lever -- or finish nail -- in one of the slots. The lever goes in the far left slot if you want to reduce tension on the door and in the middle slot if you want to increase tension. Hold the wrench or lever steady while you extract the tension pin with pliers.
Reduce tension by letting the hinge pin turn counterclockwise, and increase tension by turning it clockwise. The hinge pin should rotate just enough for the next hole to line up on the far right so you can push the tension pin into it. Try the door, and if it needs more adjustment, repeat the procedure to line up the next hole; then reinsert the tension pin. Continue until the door closes smoothly; then tap in the tension pin with a hammer.
Adjusting a Self-Closing Cabinet Hinge
The tension of a self-closing cabinet hinge is preset to temper the swinging force and make a cabinet door close smoothly. For the hinge to work properly, the door must be aligned properly, and each hinge has two or three adjustment screws that allow you to do this. They are arranged in a line along the front of the hinge.
Adjust the gap between the edge of the door and cabinet when the door is open, using the screw in the back. Turning it clockwise reduces the gap; turning it counterclockwise increases the gap.
Loosen the center screw to adjust the vertical displacement of the door relative to the cabinet. Once the screw is loose, adjust the door as needed; then tighten the screw to hold it in place.
Use the third screw, if there is one, to adjust the gap between the door and cabinet when the door is closed. Turning it clockwise reduces the gap, while turning it counterclockwise increases the gap.