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We prefer to keep our screen doors (or "storm doors" as I guess they are also known by) open all the time. We only really want them shut when we keep the main door open for a breeze or to let our cats look out longingly for freedom.

A few months back a pizza delivery guy for whatever reason thought I was holding the door open with my mind (my hands occupied by pizzas) and thought he would kindly close the screen door for us. Clearly of superior intelligence (or supernatural powers), when it didn't close right away, he started shoving and yanking to show that he was a stronger jedi than me.

Well, the force was strong in this one. Ever since, we can't prop that door open. The bit seems intact (not bent or anything), but we slide it over and it just gets pushed back.

I was going to stop at a hardware store to see if that piece is sold solo, but I thought I'd do my homework first.

I've tried "jamb", "stopper", "stop", and "slider", all of which bring up results, but none that resemble the bit that locks our pneumatic tube in place (guess I'll try "lock" next).

So:

  1. What are those things called? They are basically a square washer with a flappy tongue that you slide to where you want the tube to stop, and

  2. Based on the scenario of the closing by force, is it likely that this bit with no name just needs replacing, or do I need to adjust something else, or did he break my door?

Also, can the bits be purchased solo and easily replaced?

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  • Did this work for you? The same thing happened to us, but the house painted said he could fix it, which he did without purchasing anything to replace. Of course, we didn't observe him fixing it. Now it's happened again and the hold washer won't hold again.
    – user7063
    Commented Aug 8, 2012 at 21:39

2 Answers 2

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  1. They're called hold-open washers.

  2. It won't be easy to assume based on your description. Perhaps post a photo of where the washer normally meets the metal?

It sounds like the washer is probably just bent. Maybe you can take it off and straighten it in a vice and try it again. If it comes down to it, and you want to save some money.. you can back the set screw out of a drill stop and put a thumb screw in, grind the lugs off the shaft and slide it on!

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    Oh dear god. Of course it's called a "hold-open washer". I would have thought of that after maybe 11 other tries. Thanks so much just for giving me the name. I found a replacement kit for 1.50 that also has the spring (which, now that I know there is one, is my next suspect). I would use my vice and do it all in my workshop, except I own a hammer, a screwdriver set, a couple of wrenches, and based on trying to borrow a larger wrench from 4 different neighbors, I've got the closest thing to a workshop (aka the laundry room) than anyone else in this all-rental neighborhood.
    – Anthony
    Commented May 11, 2012 at 10:09
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I have the same problem. If you look at the hold-open washer (thanks kavisiegel) you'll probably see that the hole is worn in a couple spots where it makes contact with the door closer.

One common solution I've heard of is to take a pair of pliers and squeeze the washer a bit. You can do this without even taking it off. This changes the angle where the washer meets the door closer just enough to often make it work again, at least until it wears down again.

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If you can buy just a replacement washer that might be the best fix. In my case I could only find "repair" kits that included the washer along with a bunch of other stuff I didn't need so it felt like a bit of a waste.

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