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Sticking Windows and Doors

Sticking windows and doors are subtle problem signs of damage and movement in the structure of your property. Acting quickly when you notice problem signs is crucial.

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If the doors and windows in your home have started to stick and jam without any obvious cause, it may be time to call out an expert to investigate your home’s property. While this may seem like a small issue that is unlikely to impact your property, it can, in fact, be a warning sign for a much larger and more significant issue within the structure of your home. 

Learning to recognize subtle problem signs like this is vital to maintaining the structure and wellbeing of your home. If you suspect that there are deeper issues with your home, you should contact a professional as soon as possible to prevent any present damage from growing and spreading.  

What Do Sticking Windows and Doors Signify in a Home?

Broadly speaking, sticking windows and doors can be problem signs for several issues, including but not limited to: 

  • Frame deformation and warping 
  • Hinge deterioration 
  • Structural damage and movement 

The varied nature of the potential underlying issues means that sticking windows and doors requires thorough investigation unless there is a clear and obvious cause (for example, damaged or clogged hinge mechanisms). 

While sticking doors and windows can be problem signs of many issues in your home, these are the most serious and detrimental: 

Hard to open windows

Foundation Settlement 

Foundation settlement is a significant issue that can cause widespread damage to the structure of the property as a whole. Commonly caused by issues in the soil underneath a property, settlement is a process where the foundation fragments and starts to sink into the ground. This can lead to large cracks inside a property which leads to water getting inside a home, as well as destabilizing the structure as a whole. 

When this happens, it is common for walls throughout the affected property to start moving, leaning, and bowing. This can cause an extensive list of problems, and sticking windows and doors is the least of them. 

Subsidence 

Subsidence in a property’s foundation is also most commonly caused by problems in the soil around and under a property. While settlement tends to be an issue with soil washout or extreme dehydration, subsidence is mostly caused by saturation and issues with moisture drainage. It is characterized by a general sinking in the property as a whole. 

This can cause doors and windows to stick by deforming the frames or even cracking them as the weight of the property becomes concentrated in specific areas. This also leads to widespread, severe cracking and can lead to the property becoming uneven and unstable. 

Water Damage 

In some specific cases, sticking windows and doors are a problem sign of localized issues. The most common cause of this localized damage is water damage. This can be caused by internal leaks and plumbing floods or by water leaking through the structure of the property. Water damage can cause window and door frames to warp and swell because of saturation and can cause wood rot. 

Wood rot is a common issue that comes in three forms: brown, white, and soft. Each form of wood rot presents itself slightly differently, but each will cause the structural integrity of the wood to suffer. This can lead to sticking windows and doors, due to the weight of them pulling the mechanisms that hold them in place through the damaged wood. 

Each of these issues has a host of associated problem signs that can be helpful in diagnosing the cause of sticking windows and doors. Learning to spot red flags and act appropriately is one of the most important things that you can do to protect your home! 

Helical Before

Other Problem Signs to Look For 

These problem signs can be connected to several issues, both structural and localized. As such, it can be hard to identify just what is going on in your home as a non-professional. Therefore, we recommend that you simply take note of when and where you see the following problem signs, so you can inform an expert: 

Spreading Cracks 

Not all cracks are bad cracks. Small hairline cracks, for example, which is less than 1/16” in width, tend not to be an issue unless they are actively growing in size. Large, stable cracks may be symptoms of previous (rather than ongoing) damage, but they should still be checked by an expert. Spreading cracks, by contrast, are those that are actively growing. These should not be underestimated, even if they are small, because they are a sign of ongoing damage and pressure. 

The rate at which cracks spread is a clear indicator of how serious the pressure has become. All spreading cracks should be addressed as soon as possible. If you notice they are spreading rapidly, make sure to contact us to get the issue diagnosed to prevent further issues down the road. 

Leaning or Bowing Walls 

Visibly leaning, buckling, or bowing walls are a sign of serious structural damage that should never be ignored. As well as being a sign of deeper issues, they can very easily be the cause of sticking doors and windows, either in the walls themselves or in adjacent walls that have started to buckle as well. 

You are likely to see spreading cracks in damaged walls long before there is visible unevenness and buckling. When you first notice cracking in your walls, it is pertinent to take the necessary steps to prevent this issue altogether.  

Floor and Wall Gaps 

Gaps between your floors and walls are a serious sign of structural movement and damage in any home. However, they can be a problem sign of a few different issues including, but not limited to:  

  • Bowing walls 
  • Foundation damage 
  • Damage to the flooring itself (for example, damage to the joists that support the floors) 

Your flooring and walls should be firm and flush at all times, so if you see even a small gap appearing, you should contact a professional right away. If you’re able to catch issues like this early on, they tend to be much easier to diagnose and repair, saving you money. 

Uneven Flooring 

Your floors should always be firm, even, and stable. If you start to notice that they are springing or bouncing underfoot or notice visible unevenness and sagging in your floors, then you should contact a professional straight away. While uneven flooring is unlikely to cause sticking windows and doors, it is likely that it is being caused by the same underlying issues. 

If you leave uneven or sagging floors to grow unchecked, then you could potentially end up dealing with a collapsed floor. This is far more serious and difficult to rectify. As such, we recommend that you act quickly. 

Mold and Mildew 

Mold and mildew are general problem signs of dampness, water damage, and humidity. While mold and mildew are not damaging to the structure of your property, they can be toxic and damaging to your health and wellbeing. Black mold, for example, can cause rashes, dizziness, respiratory issues, and even seizures. 

If you see patches of discoloration that take organic forms and have a slightly musty smell, then you should avoid touching them, and call a professional as quickly as possible. 

Condensation and Humidity 

Condensation and humidity are very general problem signs that can be connected to several issues, both internal and external. High humidity can be caused by appliance breakdown and plumbing leaks, for example, but it can also be caused by groundwater seeping into a home through cracks in its foundation or foundation walls. 

Condensation is one of the most obvious signs of high humidity in a property. Caused by changes in temperature, condensation tends to gather on cold surfaces like glass and metal. However, in severe humidity, you may also find that condensation forms on the walls. 

If you see these problem signs in conjunction with sticking windows and doors, then it is likely that the underlying issue is some structural damage. If this is the case, then there are some specialty repair methods that may be needed. Depending on the underlying issues, the repair process can be lengthy and complex. 

Repair Methods: How to Fix Sticking Windows and Doors

Collapsing crawl space support pillars

Repairing sticking windows and doors in a property can be complex, depending on the underlying causes. Because these issues tend to be two-fold, the repair process must address the underlying damage as well as the symptoms (in this case, the sticking door or window). 

When it comes to the structural element of repairs, the most common repair methods are the installation of foundation piers, crawl space jacks, or, in some cases, wall anchors and beams to stabilize and straighten leaning walls that are deforming the door and window frames. By bringing the structure of the property back into its intended position, a professional will be able to also reposition the door and window frames. 

At this point, they will also consider the windows and doors themselves to make sure that they are in good health. If the hinges or opening mechanisms are severely damaged, then these too may need to be replaced. However, the door and windows themselves should not be damaged unless the pressure on them is severe and sustained. 

Sticking Windows and Doors

FAQs

Sticking windows and doors are certainly not ideal, but they are not always a sign of serious structural damage. To know what the actual cause is, an investigation must be undertaken. 

Localized Damage 

Localized damage is damage that primarily affects the wall in which the door is located or the door and window frames around them. Water damage, wood rot, and localized wall damage are the most common causes of issues like this. This is not ideal, of course, but it is far easier to repair than more widespread damage. 

Localized damage should still be investigated and repaired as quickly as possible to ensure that it does not have the time to spread and grow. This will be better for your home, of course, but also better for you. A home with this kind of damage is not at its best and can create an unpleasant environment for you and any visitors that you may have. 

Structural Damage 

Wider structural damage is the most serious of issues, of course, because of how it impacts every part of your property, going well beyond sticking doors and windows. The most common structural issues that can cause doors and windows to stick or jam are foundation settlement, subsidence, joist damage, leaning or bowing walls, and general structural movement because of widespread cracking. In some cases, these issues can even cause the door and window frames to crack. 

If this happens, then the repair process will become even more expensive; it will be necessary to rectify the underlying cause, repair the structural damage, and replace the damaged frames to ensure that your doors and windows become useful again. What is worse, if the frames are cracked for a prolonged period, they may also let water seep into your home (especially in the case of window frames) and lead to issues with dampness and humidity. 

Many homeowners prefer to let damage grow to a point where it is hard or impossible to ignore. However, we urge you not to wait too long, as the issues could easily become far more serious in a shockingly brief period of time. 

Waiting Can Be Disastrous 

If you wait too long to investigate the causes of your sticking windows and doors, then you could find that the issues that are causing the jamming to get far worse in a short period. You must keep in mind that some of the most common causes of sticking windows and doors are forms of structural damage like bowing walls and foundation settlement. These are not issues that stabilize themselves over time, so waiting could be a disaster. 

Both foundation damage and leaning or bowing walls will get worse at an exponential rate, meaning that if you wait too long to investigate your sticking windows and doors, you could find that you have damage in every part of your home. A bowing wall can easily collapse if it is left unchecked for too long, and foundation damage can lead to sagging floors and even a damaged roof. As such, it is important that you act as soon as you see the first problem signs within your home. If you do not, then you could end up dealing with secondary or even tertiary issues. 

The Benefits of Acting Quickly 

If you act quickly, however, then you could prevent avoidable damage altogether. This will make the repair process much less stressful and complex and will keep your costs limited in terms of both time and money. It will also keep your bottom line low and ensure that your home gets back to full health far more quickly. As well as seriously reducing the likelihood of damage recurring at a later date. 

Taking swift action when you first see signs of damage guarantees many benefits. Of course, acting quickly only works if you make sure that you are getting the right solution for your problem and situation. Therefore, it is important that you have a professional investigate the issue before you act. No matter how skilled you are as a DIY enthusiast, there is really no substitute for professional experience and training.  

There is no situation where we would suggest that non-professionals take a DIY approach to structural repairs around your home. Structural issues are simply too complex and prone to evolution and spreading, and the process of repair is fraught with dangers. 

The Dangers of DIY 

If you try to investigate the causes of your sticking windows and doors, then you could end up misdiagnosing the underlying causes of the damage. This will mean that any solution you implement will be inherently flawed. As such, there will be a much higher chance of the issue recurring, but, worse still, there will also be a chance of you causing more damage to your home. If this happens, then you may well need to call a professional anyway, and the cost of repairs will be higher than it would have been otherwise. This is not the biggest issue, however. There is also the matter of safety. 

Structural issues are notoriously difficult to deal with, and they undermine the stability of your walls and flooring. If you find that this is the cause of your sticking windows and doors and try to rectify a bowing wall or sagging floor alone, then you could cause a collapse. As well as being bad for your home, this can be incredibly damaging to your health and wellbeing. In fact, if a wall collapses while you are working on it, it could be lethal. 

Professionals Get the Job Done 

One of the biggest benefits of hiring a professional is the fact that they know exactly what they are doing, no matter the underlying cause of your sticking windows and doors. They not only have the training and experience to deal with foundation issues like settlement and subsidence or wider structural issues like bowing walls, but also, they have the tools and equipment they need to hand. This is especially useful in the case of foundation damage, where hydraulic equipment and heavy excavation equipment will be needed to ensure the correct results. 

This equipment is not only hard to get a hold of and use properly; it is incredibly expensive to rent. As such, any DIY enthusiast trying to get a hold of it will find that their costs skyrocket (meaning that professional service could be cheaper, or at least more cost effective). Secondly, professionals have access to the products that are needed for repairing this kind of damage. Foundation piers, helical tie backs, and wall anchors are all hard to install and harder still to buy over the counter. Even if you can find an equivalent, you may find that it is of lower quality than the ones used by professionals. Professionals can buy from industry supply stores and even the manufacturers when needed, thereby offering a better result.  

Expert Foundation Repair in Tennessee and Alabama 

If your windows and doors have started to stick and jam without any obvious reason, then it is time to contact a professional to investigate the underlying causes in full. The team here at AFS Foundation & Waterproofing has decades of collective experience, and we are happy to serve Birmingham, AL, Huntsville, AL, Mobile, AL, Nashville, TN, Chattanooga, TN, and Knoxville, TN.  

Whatever the damage to your home looks like, we always start with a full inspection of the highlighted problem areas. These inspection appointments are free and can be booked by calling our team or filling out our online contact form. Our team will arrive at a time and date that suits you and will provide you with an estimate for the cost of their suggested repairs. This is provided without obligation and should help you to make an informed decision.  

CONTACT OUR FOUNDATION EXPERTS TODAY

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CONTACT OUR FOUNDATION EXPERTS TODAY

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