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Sticking Windows and Doors

Foundation settling can cause sticking doors and windows, so before the latter is checked, you need to focus on any foundation problems you may have.

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There’s nothing more frustrating than having a sticking door or window. However, this problem isn’t something to be ignored as an inconvenient quirk your home has. Sticking doors and windows is a sign that something is wrong with your home’s structure, so it’s a problem that is worth looking into. 

Problem Signs That Point to Sticking Windows and Doors

Gap in window frame due to foundation settling
Any opening made in a wall represents a weak point. This is especially true for load-bearing exterior walls. That’s why foundation settlement will often cause cracks around window and door openings, as shown above.

The moment you notice that your doors and windows have become harder to open, you should look around your home for other problem signs. These problem signs will confirm whether or not your door and window issues are caused due to a foundation problem or if it’s a simple, singular problem with the actual door and window. 

In the end, if you can’t detect any problem signs or you’re uncertain about them, you can always give us a call for a free inspection. Not only will you be given a same-day quote, but also you will get answers to your questions. Before calling an expert, here are the signs that you should look for: 

Uneven Floor 

If your door is sticking, then you most likely have floor problems. Check the floor that’s around the troublesome door in question to see if it’s raised to the point where it brushes up against the bottom of the door. Use a level ruler if the unevenness is too slight to detect with your eyes alone. Besides the floor area near the door, you should also carefully check other parts of the house for unevenness since any sign of it means the sticking door situation will get worse. 

Wall and Floor Gap 

If you don’t have a level ruler and can’t see the unevenness in the floor with your eyes, then try to find floor and wall gaps instead. When the floor’s support system is failing, there’s always a chance that the floor will detach itself from the wall. 

Cracks 

Cracks along the walls and ceiling indicate the foundation is making the house withstand a disproportionate amount of pressure on one side, causing the cracks. It’s especially important to check for cracks near the door and window frames themselves, since these are areas where the pressure can easily get released thanks to all the corners. There’s also a chance that the frames themselves are cracked, so check for that as well. 

Frame Warping 

The pressure exerted on the walls of a structurally deteriorating house doesn’t just cause cracks, it also causes frame warping. When the frame of a door or window is so deformed, it can cause serious problems with the functionality of the window or door. You can usually tell when a frame is warped because of how uneven it is. 

Loose Door Hinges 

Check to see how loose the door hinges are, as these also indicate that your foundation is causing sticking doors. The pressure exerted by a sinking foundation can tear hinges right off the door frame. Before buying new ones, talk to a foundation expert so that the real problem can be addressed. 

Cracked Bricks 

Cracks aren’t just found on the inside of your home; you also can step outside to find cracks along the brick veneer, which is the bottom half of your home covered in bricks. There are two types of brick cracks you can find there: horizontal cracks and stair-step cracks. Horizontal cracks, as the name implies, are cracks that run horizontally along the bricks. This crack can either run right in the middle of the bricks, only along the brick joints, or a mix of both. 

Stair-step cracks are cracks that run diagonally along the bricks. They only separate the bricks at their joints and look like the pattern of a stair. Stair-step cracks are a clear sign of foundation settling, particularly differential settling. 

Bowing Basement Walls 

It’s always good to check up on your basement every now and again, especially because of how common hydrostatic pressure is in a city like Charlotte, NC. There is no other way to check for early signs of hydrostatic pressure than with a level ruler. Don’t forget to check the top and bottom of the wall as much as the center. If the wall is inching forward even slightly, then it’s best to call an expert. For minor wall bowing, carbon fiber straps can be applied to the walls if it’s bowing less than two inches. 

Why Do Windows and Doors Stick? 

Sticking doors and windows is a common structural problem in a city like Charlotte because foundation issues are common. Windows and doors get stuck because of foundation problems altering the evenness of the floor, which interferes with the way the door is open. It also has the ability to warp window and door frames so you have trouble closing them. 

Foundation problems are common in Charlotte, NC because of two things: the soil and the climate. The soil in the Piedmont region where the city is located is called Cecil soil, which happens to be the state’s official soil. In its subsoil, past the initial eight inches, the soil contains a lot of clay, which erodes as its moisture content changes. When saturated with water, it expands and loosens up, but when dry, it shrinks and compacts, losing volume as it does so. 

The humid subtropical climate of the region doesn’t help since North Carolina is one of the rainiest states in the country. This means that the soil on your property is constantly going through an erosion cycle that has a great impact on your entire house. 

Foundation Failure 

Foundation failure is often caused by soil erosion or a lack of proper foundation drainage. One of the most common types of foundation failures is settling. When the soil layer underneath the house erodes and becomes uneven, the house settles because of it. This disturbs the house’s weight distribution and puts a lot of pressure on the window and door frames. It also affects the floor, causing it to sag and lift in various places. 

The frame warping and the unevenness of the floor is what causes sticking doors and windows. So, as you can see, it’s not an isolated problem on its own but rather a result of a deeper structural issue around your home. 

Floor Joist Failure 

Floor joist failure is common because of where the floor joists in question are located. Floor joists are the horizontally placed wooden beams that make up the roof of your basement or crawl space. Because the joists face the inside of the foundation, if the space is humid in any way, the joists are at risk of getting infected with wood rot. 

Wood rot debilitates the wood by softening it up or by breaking it down. Either way, it affects the wood’s ability to hold the floorboards up. This causes an uneven floor and also places a vast amount of pressure on the wall that can warp frames over time. 

How Are Sticking Windows and Doors Fixed? 

Before the doors and windows themselves can be addressed, the foundation must first be repaired. The repair method used will depend on what specific foundation problem you are dealing with and what method best suits the house. 

For basement walls that are bowing more than two inches, wall anchors or wall braces can be used. These are meant to push back against the force exerted against the hydrostatic pressure. They can even straighten out your wall over time. 

For foundation settling, helical piers and push piers are the ideal option. Made of galvanized steel, these rods are driven deep underground so that they can stabilize your foundation. The rods are also capable of leveling your home and setting things back into place. 

Once these solutions are in place and the contractors can guarantee that everything is stable, then you can worry about fixing your doors and windows. If something was done about the foundation damage early, then there’s a chance that nothing on the doors and windows need to be replaced, especially given how flexible wood is. If the damage was severe and the frame was broken and cracked beyond repair, then you will need to look for a completely new door or window frame. 

Sticking Windows and Doors

FAQs

If the cause of your jammed windows and doors is foundation settling, then the first step in repairing your home is stabilizing the foundation. This can be done with helical piers, which are driven into the ground so that they may support your foundation. While helical piers are highly efficient, it’s not always guaranteed that you’ll be able to have a perfectly functioning window or door. 

When It Can Be Fixed 

When a foundation is settling, the house is tilting to one side, which is what causes the warped window and door frames. Helical piers don’t just stop the house from sinking further, they also can potentially level the house as well. When the house is evened out again, the weight of the home is distributed properly, and the pressure the door and window frames once experienced is then released. 

By alleviating the pressure, the frames stop warping and might be able to function normally again. Of course, this all depends on the extent of the damage and how advanced the settling was. Being able to catch the damage early on will increase your chances of saving the frames so that they don’t have to be replaced. 

When It Can’t Be Fixed 

Helical piers may successfully stabilize your home, but even after leveling everything, there’s no guarantee that the door and window frames will be functional. This is because, after long-term warping, the frames could be damaged to the point where they need to be replaced instead of repaired. Wood is flexible, but even a wooden frame cannot go back to its original shape after years of pressure due to settling. 

You can tell that the frame needs to be replaced when there are multiple cracks or gaps. The gaps are especially bad for window frames since they are an opportunity for rainwater to enter your home. You also might want to check to see if the hinges are loose; if the screws are damaged, the frame is most likely too warped for repair. Luckily, you may not need to replace the entire door, only the frame, so speak to an expert to see how much you can salvage. 

Soil erosion can be devastating on any home, which is why it’s so unfortunate that it’s a common occurrence. The reason soil erosion is so common is because very little is done to stop water from reaching the soil around our property and especially our foundation. If you want to prevent soil erosion and avoid structural issues like sticking windows and doors, then there are a few things you can do. 

Foundation Waterproofing 

While it is impossible to completely stop soil erosion, we can control how much groundwater is around the foundation at any given time. This can be done with foundation waterproofing. Waterproofing solutions are the only way you can make sure that your foundation is dry on the inside and outside as well. By controlling how much water the soil is exposed to, you can prevent things like hydrostatic pressure and damage from frost heave. 

A good drainage system is especially important because the only thing worse than no drainage pipe is a clogged drainage pipe. So, when choosing a sump pump and a French drain system, choose a reliable one. At DryPro, we offer foundation drainage solutions that are designed to never clog and are guaranteed to keep groundwater away from your home. 

Schedule a Free Inspection Today with DryPro 

We understand that sticking doors and windows can be annoying, which is why we are dedicated to making things as convenient as possible to our customers. We’ve been serving Charlotte, NC since 1999 and have garnered a reputation for being friendly and efficient. We have flexible financing options as well as transferable warranties that pass onto the next homeowner if the house is sold. 

If you need repairs as soon as possible, then call us or use our online contact form. We can schedule a free, no-commitment inspection with one of our field agents. You’ll be given a same-day quote and unforgettable service. 

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DryProSystems Serving the Greater Charlotte Metro Area

SERVING GREATER CHARLOTTE AND SURROUNDING AREAS, INCLUDING HICKORY, GASTONIA, AND ROCK HILL, SC

Dry Pro Foundation and Crawlspace Specialists

130 Performance Dr
Belmont, NC 28012

NC GCL #75936
SC GCL #G119725