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I moved into a new home recently, and the front door is out of plumb, causing it to rub on the frame.

diagram of door, showing that it rubs at the top of the frame opposite the hinges

I found this tutorial on adjusting hinges to plumb a door.

  • Tip #1 is to tighten the screws - they're all tight.
  • Tip #2 is to drive longer screws into the frame to "suck" the door into the frame. The frame is steel, so I don't think that would work.
  • Tip #3 is to force the top hinge's plates together using an adjustable wrench. I would try this, but the top and bottom hinge are McKinney spring hinges.

Here are some photos:

first photo of hingesecond photo of hinge

I can't find instructions for adjusting a spring hinge to plumb a door; all the McKinney and Everbilt spring hinge instructions solely describe adjusting spring tension.

How can I make the door stop rubbing on the frame? I'd like to make the door plumb if possible, rather than planing off the rubbing edge.


Update 2022-04-24

I released the spring hinge tension and inspected behind the top hinge. There's a recess where the top hinge sits, and it uses 1/2" long machine screws to connect to a metal plate behind the steel jamb. The metal plate has some play, but not much. enter image description here

Here's a photo of the full hinge side, as requested. It's difficult to see the gap, but it widens from bottom to top by about 2mm (5/64"). I measured the gap with calipers:

  • 3.27mm at the very top
  • 4.03mm just above the top hinge
  • 2.97mm just above the middle hinge
  • 2.70mm just above the bottom hinge
  • 2.07mm at the very bottom

As you can see from the measurements, there's a bow out right where the top hinge is. This could be the culprit... if so, how do I fix it?

photo of full door

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    Check the plumb and square of the door frame, if that is out, adjusting hinges won't help as much.
    – crip659
    Apr 19 at 20:48
  • Tip #3 in your question will work on spring-loaded hinges as well. This assumes the hinge has been sprung by an object being caught in the door near the hinge, thus bending the hinge plate out of shape. You first need to release the tension of the spring on the hinge and remove the retaining pin. I've then used a vise to squeeze the plates back together.
    – HoneyDo
    Apr 19 at 21:34
  • I would as a test remove top high and move the middle hinge to the top so you only have 2 hinges and see if it still rubs and if the door still auto-close. You may be able to simply switch out the top hinge, or just swap the top/middle
    – Chris
    Apr 20 at 16:04
  • A shim under either the doorside or wallside plate of the bottom hinge may help. Apr 21 at 10:45
  • If the problem has not been resolved yet, a picture of the whole hinge side would help. The gap on that side MUST be even, ideally no more than 1/8", more importantly uniform from top to bottom. If more than one shot is needed, so be it.
    – Jack
    Apr 24 at 15:12

3 Answers 3

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As the top hinges do not close flush, but the middle non-sprung hinge likely does, then try swapping the top and middle hinges.

There is an opportunity to gain just a little bit of space, and it may just be enough to prevent the rubbing.

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Your assumption about #2 is incorrect. Steel flexes and bends more easily than wood in many cases, and it's a matter of moving rather than bending anyway. That's mostly like the best fix here. #3 probably doesn't offer enough adjustment. You want to achieve a uniform 3/16" gap top to bottom.

Also, it's irrelevant that these are spring hinges. They offer no door adjustment, so any fix is the same as if they were unsprung.

I'd try this:

  1. Relieve the tension from the top spring. I can't tell if this would be done with an Allen wrench or pins.
  2. Remove the screws in the hinge leaf against the jamb. Use a #3 Phillips so you don't mangle the screws further. Leave the hinge attached to the door.
  3. Flip the hinge open. Are there threaded adjusters on the mounting plate? If so, pull them in and reinstall the hinge to test.
  4. Otherwise, are there mounting screws behind? If so, try to run them in. Use the correct driver bit, which may be a #3 Phillips. If not, decide whether to add them behind the hinge or run them through the hinge. This depends on metal thickness, etc.

If this doesn't work you may need to remove the steel casing to get at whatever shims are behind. They may be preventing the jamb from moving over.

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  • Thank you! I may need to post a followup question about releasing tension. Both spring hinges have two tiny holes on the side -- one near the top on the door side, the other near the bottom on the jamb side, both less than 1/16" -- with a coiled piece of thin metal inserted: imgur.com/a/DXCJ3wf The top of each spring hinge accepts a 5/16" hex key. I can turn the hex key clockwise but not counterclockwise. When turned clockwise, the socket recedes into the hinge and then pops back out. Nothing happens at the two tiny holes when I do this.
    – Jack
    Apr 21 at 19:53
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If your drawing is accurate, I'd start out by chiseling, or routing out a small amount of wood in the recessed area where the top two hinges mount into the wooden door and see if that gives you enough clearance to plumb or at least stop the rubbing. There could be shims in the steel frame behind the hinges that could be removed but most frames I've seen don't have additional adjustments.

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    There are better ways than deeper mortices. I'd consider this a last resort, especially since it could cause binding at the hinge side.
    – isherwood
    Apr 19 at 21:20
  • There could be but I only post solutions I've actually completed and had success with.
    – JACK
    Apr 20 at 12:58
  • It's a good solution in some cases. I've done it myself. Here, I think we need more adjustment than would be granted.
    – isherwood
    Apr 20 at 13:01
  • @isherwood You're probably right. The first hinge picture shows the leaf not even seated in the mortise of the jamb. There's got to be an adjustment somewhere.
    – JACK
    Apr 20 at 19:33

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