Door hinges have a thankless job. For most of their mundane lives, they simply swing back and forth, holding the door securely in its frame. Occasionally, they strain as children swing back and forth on the door handles. Other times, they shudder to a sudden stop as a door is thoughtlessly slammed.
But when door hinges become a bit unhinged from years of use, they can not only cause doors to squeak, stick or rub, but allow heat to escape and cold to enter. Maintaining your door hinges is a simple process, something you can do once or twice a year. And it will keep your hinges working properly for years to come.
Unlike the old days when door hinges were made of iron, brass or steel, today’s hinges come in an array of materials and finishes. Thanks to modern manufacturing techniques, most of these finishes are maintenance free. Left alone, they won’t tarnish, rust or fail over time.
What do begin to fail are the screws that hold the door hinges on the door and the frame. The stresses and strains of everyday openings begin to loosen the screws. This is particularly true on heavier doors that are either left open a lot or bear lots of traffic.
At least twice a year, you want to go through your entire home, inspecting all the door hinges. If you find an loose screws, simply tighten them with a screwdriver.
If the screws in the door hinges spin in their place and won’t tighten into the wood, it means the holes are stripped. When this happens, do the following:
1) Remove the screws on that particular hinge. If you have a three hinge door, you can easily undo a single hinge plate at a time. If you have doors with just two hinges, you’ll need to place a wedge under the door to take the weight off the hinge before you loosen it.
2) Once the plate is removed, dip a couple cardboard matches into wood or white glue and put them into the hole. Then tighten the hinge screws and they should hold.
3) If the thought of shoving matches into the holes doesn’t work for you, use a golf tee or a sliver of wood instead. Cover these with glue and reinstall the hinge. Don’t put the screw in the repaired hole yet. Allow the glue to dry, then cut off any excess wood, and then drill a pilot hole into it. This will keep the wood from cracking, ensuring that the screw won’t strip it again.
Squeaks and creaks don’t affect the performance of your door hinges but they can get pretty annoying after awhile. The good thing is that the door hinges are simply reminding you that it’s time for a couple of squirts of WD-40. Spray it at each joint along the pin so it soaks into the center. This is the source of creaks in your door hinges. If you don’t have any WD-40 handy, you can use cooking oil in a pinch, but it won’t keep the squeaks away for long.