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French Door Problems and How to Fix Them

External French doors are not only an attractive addition to your home, but they are quite easy to take care of too. However, that's not to say you won't occasionally run into some problems. Thankfully, we're here to guide you through some of the more common faults you might face. Here, we've created an easy-to-follow how-to-fix french doors guide so you have all the information you need to diagnose and cure your French door problems.

Why Are My French Doors Not Closing Properly?

What good are french doors that won't close? As reliable as they can be, if you've had your French doors installed for a while, they might develop problems opening and closing. If this is happening to your French doors (also known as French windows), then it's most likely because they have become misaligned. Either due to wear and tear on the hinges (if they're older doors) or a poor installation (if they're newer).

Aligning your doors shouldn't be much of a problem, though you will probably have to take down at least one of your doors in order to fix it. This could prove problematic if they are particularly heavy. If that's the case, don't be afraid to ask for help! Below are some common fixes for if your french door is not closing properly.

The Fix

· Try closing the doors the best you can to determine the specific problem. It could be, for example, that the edge of the doors hit the upper jamb or the doors don't clear each other properly. Make a note of what the specific problem is.

· Tighten the hinges on all doors if they look like they're sagging. If the screws turn but the hinge won't tighten, consider replacing the screws with larger ones. If that's not an option, filling out the hole with matchsticks or wood filler should help.

· If the doors are not clearing each other, drive a screw into the middle of the upper jamb to draw it further upwards. Once it's properly aligned, sink the screw and cover the hole with filler.

· If neither of the above steps work, try using a hand plane to plane the edges of your doors. This is obviously a more severe fix, and you will need to take some measurements otherwise you could end up making the problem even worse. Mark the places that require planing before you remove the doors.

· Remove your doors and set them down on a pair of sawhorses. Then start using your hand plane to remove the excess wood from them. Make sure to plane in small increments of about 1/16 inches, then hang them up and see if they close properly. If they don't, take them down again and take some more off. This will take time, but it's the only way to make sure you fix the problem 100%.

· Once the doors are up, use some sandpaper to sand the edges, then apply a coat of varnish or primer (depending on your preference). Job done.

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What Do I Do When My French Doors Won't Lock?

There is no quick fix for French doors not locking but it is important that you know how to fix french door locks that aren't working. If you find your french door locking mechanism broken, the fix will depend on what locking mechanism you've chosen. Nine times out of ten, if the french door lock is stuck or if the key won't turn enough to lock your doors, it will be due to some sort of obstruction in the mechanism itself. There's also the chance that the locking cylinder has broken due to wear and tear, but this is unlikely unless you're using a very old lock.

To fix an obstruction, you'll first need to remove the locking mechanism from the doors by unscrewing the locking strip. Once the strip is off and you've taken out all the necessary screws, the lock should simply pull out of its cubbyhole. Once the lock is free, inspect it for any potential obstruction and remove the offending item before reattaching. Your lock should now work as intended!

Why Do My French Doors Leak?

Due to their nature, if the seal around your French doors is inadequate, you might experience leakage. Especially if you live in an area that's frequently blighted by heavy of rain. Left untreated, these leaks could cause rotting and the rest of your house to become damp, so it's a fix you're going to want to make immediately!

The Fix

· Open your doors fully and use a prop to keep them open. Then remove all the screws holding the door threshold in place before removing it.

· Use some caulk on the bottom of the threshold until it's completely covered. Then place the threshold back into the opening and screw it back in.

· Next, caulk around the entire threshold. Making sure all possible gaps are completely sealed on both the inside and outside.

· If there is insufficient caulk, you might want to install door sweeps. For this, you'll need to measure each door and cut your sweeps to the required length. Then, install them onto the exterior surface of your doors using the screws provided.

· For even more protection, you could add weather strips. Though, this might be overkill depending on your needs.

Why Is My French Door Latch Stuck?

The latch is a small but vital component of any French door. If your latch keeps getting stuck it could make your doors unusable over time so it's important to learn how to fix a french door that won't latch. The key here is deciphering if the problem is with the latch itself or with the door. You can do this simply by opening the door and attempting to engage the latch. If the latch works when the door is open, then you have a problem with your doors.

Whereas if it still gets stuck, then the latch might need repairing or replacing. Before you take drastic measures though, you could simply try lubricating the latch with some WD-40 as it could be nothing more than wear and tear. If you lube it up good and proper and it's still giving you problems, you might need to take things a step further.

The Fix

· If the door is relatively new, you'll first want to check if the problem is with the latch installation. If the latch and the door are misaligned, this could be what is causing the sticking issue. The latch might be installed in the wrong place or it might not be properly fitted into the door frame. Either way, this needs to be rectified and making the adjustments is going to require a lot of trial and error.

· If your latch and doors are properly aligned, another possible issue could be the hinges. They may have loosened over time or simply not screwed in tight enough in the first place. This is a very easy fix as you'll just need to tighten the screws in the hinges.

· The final issue, which is particularly problematic in older wooden doors, is warped wood. Mostly due to temperature fluctuation and heavy humidity over time. Fixing a warped door is not an easy fix though, so you'll want to call in a professional for this one!


Whilst this guide has been far from exhaustive, we hope we've at least been able to give you a head start with your problematic French doors. If you're struggling and require more visual aid, there are countless helpful tutorials available on YouTube.

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If you have a question which isn't covered by one of our handy guides, why not drop us an email and we'll be happy to assist.

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