Doors & Windows Sticking

Doors and windows that stick and won’t open and close properly are usually signs of foundation problems. Not only that–they represent a serious fire hazard, since they act as emergency entry and exit points.

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Warning Signs

When windows and doors present problems, there’s often more than just one.  Problems may include:

  • Cracks in sheetrock above windows or doors in any pattern – diagonal, vertical, or horizontal. They often appear at the top corners of windows and doors since movement at the bottom causes more visible symptoms higher up.
  • Doors or windows will visibly look uneven or out of square. Try using a square or level to test for unevenness.
  • Doors are difficult to open or won’t lock or unlock properly.
  • Windows also may be difficult to open and won’t latch correctly.
  • Exterior door or window trim may separate from the home’s exterior surface, whether brick or block.
  • Cracks in brick often occur around doors and windows.
  • Doors may scrape against their frame and show visible signs of scratching or rubbing.
  • In extreme cases, doors or windows may be impossible to open or close.

Level on a stuck window

Ugly or Dangerous?

If your windows or doors stick, remember that this presents a serious safety hazard. In case of a fire or other emergency event, you or a family member may need to exit a particular door or window to escape the house. While it may be unlikely, any fire marshall would chastise such an oversight. Most home inspectors will also cite sticking doors and windows as items that are the highest priority to fix due to safety concerns.

Should I Fix My Doors and Windows or My Foundation?

Homeowners often attempt to fix windows or doors by replacing them, or by adjusting hinges or frames. Others may patch the mortar around windows or fill sheetrock cracks to address the cosmetic problems. While this may work temporarily, if windows and doors stick due to foundation settlement, the fix will be temporary.  Your best bet is to have an experienced and trusted foundation repair expert offer a free, no obligation estimate

If the contractor you choose is reputable, they won’t suggest a fix you don’t need. Instead, they’ll evaluate the issue thoroughly and offer a foundation repair solution, or simply conclude the issue is cosmetic and leave you with simple DIY instructions or a reference for a handyman.

Crawl Space, Slab, or Exterior Foundation

Depending on the construction of your home and the location of symptoms, sticking windows and doors may lead to various types of repair.

Foundation Repair to Exterior Walls

If your house is built on a crawl space, a door leading to the exterior of your house sticks or if windows are sticking, more than likely you’ll need foundation repair that addresses the concrete footer under your exterior walls. This involves repair with steel piers that can stabilize and may be able to lift settled portions of the foundation.

Fixing Crawl Spaces

If your house is built on a crawl space, and if interior doors stick or jam, you likely need a different type of repair. Your home may need additional supports to floor joists or repairs to rotted wood or other deteriorated or poor construction. A professional can inspect and recommend the necessary repairs.

Slab Foundation Repair

If your home is built on a monolithic concrete slab and any door or window is sticking regardless of location in the home, you may need steel piers that can underpin the exterior or interior foundation.