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Old 09-01-2008, 10:02 PM   #1
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1895 Home door problems


I've just purchased a home built in 1895. The previous owner spent a lot of money renovating the home, it has all new windows, electrical, plumbing, sheetrock, etc. It is a gorgeous home. However, since it is an older home, some uneveness or settling is normal. All of the upstairs floors have a slight slope (if you put a marble on one side of the floor, it'll roll to the other). It don't really care about the floors, but my main issue is that most of the doors don't close. Some doors are new and they close fine, however, the original doors don't close. What is the best way to tackle this problem and still keep the original doors?

Thanks for your feedback.

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Old 09-01-2008, 10:12 PM   #2
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1895 Home door problems


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I've just purchased a home built in 1895. The previous owner spent a lot of money renovating the home, it has all new windows, electrical, plumbing, sheetrock, etc. It is a gorgeous home. However, since it is an older home, some uneveness or settling is normal. All of the upstairs floors have a slight slope (if you put a marble on one side of the floor, it'll roll to the other). It don't really care about the floors, but my main issue is that most of the doors don't close. Some doors are new and they close fine, however, the original doors don't close. What is the best way to tackle this problem and still keep the original doors?

Thanks for your feedback.
When you say don't close! do you mean they hit the jamb or the just don't latch. a door that is 113 years old must of been cut down a few times. could you post a picture of the problem doors, this way we all can get a clearer picture and give our advice. Thanks BOB

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Old 09-02-2008, 12:50 PM   #3
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1895 Home door problems


It's a shame that the renovation didn't start with jacking the house back to a level condition. Since it is now remodelled, that is likely no longer an option. The same settlement that caused the floors to be uneven has probably caused the door jambs to go out of square meaning the your doors are binding in the corners. They usually bind in top corner opposite the hinges. I'm guessing at this from your description of conditions. You can plane (or belt sand) the doors to fit back into the jambs and reset the strike plates. The other method, albeit more intense is to carefully remove the casing and reinstall the jamb to match the door. One advantage to this is that you can tighten the miters back up on the casing. On an old home you need to be VERY careful pulling the casing so you don't split it. If the door is binding at the top on the latch side you would cut the required amount from the bottom of the jamb on the hinge side and allow the door to drop, gaining clearance. The other advantage is that the doors stay square. I've seen houses sag and doors planed to stay operational where the doors were out of square by an inch across the top, making them unsightly.
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Old 09-02-2008, 05:01 PM   #4
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1895 Home door problems


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It's a shame that the renovation didn't start with jacking the house back to a level condition. Since it is now remodelled, that is likely no longer an option. The same settlement that caused the floors to be uneven has probably caused the door jambs to go out of square meaning the your doors are binding in the corners. They usually bind in top corner opposite the hinges. I'm guessing at this from your description of conditions. You can plane (or belt sand) the doors to fit back into the jambs and reset the strike plates. The other method, albeit more intense is to carefully remove the casing and reinstall the jamb to match the door. One advantage to this is that you can tighten the miters back up on the casing. On an old home you need to be VERY careful pulling the casing so you don't split it. If the door is binding at the top on the latch side you would cut the required amount from the bottom of the jamb on the hinge side and allow the door to drop, gaining clearance. The other advantage is that the doors stay square. I've seen houses sag and doors planed to stay operational where the doors were out of square by an inch across the top, making them unsightly.
very good advice above..Pull casings and jambs...if you like your house. Also as bulletbob advised: check to be sure the doors slabs are true and square... they may have been altered at some time in the past.

i live an a 1908...ain't it fun?
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Old 09-04-2008, 04:48 AM   #5
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1895 Home door problems


Mine's a 1905 home and we had this problem with the backdoor as well as internal doors - just had to keep planing bits off the door frame in order to get it to fit. I've never seen a carpenter look so frustrated. Insultation on the back door has remained an issue, as nothing is straight or even. I've just pretty much given up now, which isn't good for the heating bills
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Old 09-04-2008, 07:21 AM   #6
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1895 Home door problems


If it's an on going problem with an exterior door and is not a fault of the door/jamb components (loose hinges, etc.), I'd be doing some serious searching for a cause. Settled foundation, rotted sill plate. Something is allowing movement in the exterior wall which is not good and will not improve. Interior doors bind normally because the wooden support posts in the basements very slowly deteriorate from moisture where they contact the base of whatever they sit on. Not an easy job to correct, but repairable. Instead of repairing the settlement, most people take the easy route and plane the doors to fit the now crooked jamb. Or renovate the crooked structure which means jacking the structure back to level is no longer an option without damaging the renovated area.
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Old 09-04-2008, 07:55 AM   #7
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1895 Home door problems


All the above is very good advice to correct the door issues.

I've worked on several and have owned a few 100+ yr old homes. Currently have a 1898 version. Doors on the second floor were cut over the years for home settling and cracks in walls existed in a few places. All could be traced back to the basement, the 12x12 cross beams had supports removed, and were basically hanging out in mid air. The house had settled in the middle 1 1/2". All the floors sloped to the center.
In this case I could slowly, over a period of months, jack up and then add cement block supports in 2 places to bring everything back to within a 1/4" or so. I would NOT recommend doing this with new windows etc as your asking for more problems. Not to mention new cracks in the walls although sheet rock is pretty forgiving in my experience.

What I would recommed is finding out where and what is causing the settling. If it's beyond your scope then find a competent bulider/restoration company and tell them you want to stabilize the existing structure. Get a couple opinions. I'd hesitate calling the guy that did the restore on this home. Maybe it wasn't his fault things were done the way they were, some home owners won't always follow what the contractor recommends, as we know. Still, you probably shouldn't be trying to correct anything at this point, structurally, just keep it from getting worse as time as time goes on.

Just mt 2
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Old 09-04-2008, 08:07 AM   #8
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If it's an on going problem with an exterior door and is not a fault of the door/jamb components (loose hinges, etc.), I'd be doing some serious searching for a cause. Settled foundation, rotted sill plate. Something is allowing movement in the exterior wall which is not good and will not improve. Interior doors bind normally because the wooden support posts in the basements very slowly deteriorate from moisture where they contact the base of whatever they sit on. Not an easy job to correct, but repairable. Instead of repairing the settlement, most people take the easy route and plane the doors to fit the now crooked jamb. Or renovate the crooked structure which means jacking the structure back to level is no longer an option without damaging the renovated area.

This is a bit worrying. The house is at the bottom of a hill which doesn't help and I beleive looking at the info which came with the survey for the house that there used to be some opencast mining around here many years ago (although there is no sign of it now). Might be time to get someone to have a look at this as I don't have a clue to be honest.

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