Why Are My Doors and Windows Sticking?

Sticking windows and doors or those that don’t shut properly can be a major nuisance for any homeowner. These problems can greatly increase your energy bills due to heat loss/gain and also invite all sorts of insects and pests into the home. Unfortunately, fixing doors or windows that stick isn’t always so simple, as it is normally a sign that your foundation may be damaged or failing.

Sticking Doors, Windows and Other Signs of Foundation Problems

In most cases, sticking windows or doors are caused by the frame no longer being square. When your windows or doors are difficult to open or no longer close properly, it usually means that your foundation has begun to settle and that the house is no longer level or square.

In addition, these foundation problems can also manifest themselves in large cracks in the drywall beginning at the corner of the windows or doors and extending out diagonally from there. Similarly, if you notice that your floors are no longer even or are beginning to sag, it is generally a sure sign that your foundation isn’t functioning properly.

All of the above issues could potentially be caused by a range of different structural issues. However, in the majority of cases these issues are directly caused by some problem with the building’s foundation. Therefore, typically the only way to permanently correct the problems with your windows and doors is to figure out what is causing your foundation to shift in the first place. Without having a professional foundation repair company correct the underlying foundation issues, anything you try to do to fix the window and/or door problems is basically just papering over the cracks.

Common Foundation Problems That Cause Sticking Doors and Windows

There are a number of different reasons that your foundation could begin shifting or settling. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Erosion. Improper drainage can lead to excess groundwater pooling up around the foundation. Over time, this can eventually begin washing away some of the soil from beneath the foundation. In turn, this creates gaps or voids under the structure that can cause the foundation to sink or settle.
  • Erosion. Improper drainage can lead to excess groundwater pooling up around the foundation. Over time, this can eventually begin washing away some of the soil from beneath the foundation. In turn, this creates gaps or voids under the structure that can cause the foundation to sink or settle.
  • Soil Expansion and Contraction. Excess groundwater also causes the soil to expand, which places added pressure on the foundation and can cause it to settle or crack. As the soil then eventually dries out, it begins to shrink and contract, which can also lead to voids or empty spaces underneath the foundation. This same thing often occurs during drought-like conditions as the soil tends to shrink and crack during extreme dry weather.
  • Tree Roots and Other Vegetation. Having trees or shrubs planted too close to the home may also eventually lead to foundation problems. Many times, the roots will eventually begin pushing against the foundation in their search for water. Like with excess moisture in the soil, this puts increased pressure on the foundation. In addition, the roots may also suck all of the moisture out of the ground around the foundation, which can cause the soil to become excessively dry and shrink in the same way as during a drought.
  • Poor Soil Compaction. It is important that the soil is properly compacted before the foundation is laid, as this compaction is mainly what prevents the foundation from immediately beginning to settle. Therefore, homes where the soil hasn’t been sufficiently compacted prior to construction are much more likely to suffer from issues with foundation settlement.

How to Repair Common Foundation Problems

If you notice that any of your doors or windows are starting to stick, it is important that you have your foundation inspected as soon as possible. Virtually all foundation problems are fixable. However, the problems are generally much easier and less costly to fix if they are caught immediately.

Many settlement problems can be solved through the use of foundation piers. These piers are attached to the foundation and extend out some distance to more solid, stable soil in order to fully anchor the building into the ground and prevent it from further settling. In many cases, these piers can even be used to help jack the home back up should the settling be severe enough to warrant it.

In addition, the settlement problems could be caused by an improperly designed or built crawlspace. Many older homes suffer from issues with rotting floor joists or beams, which can easily cause the floor and home to sink in certain places and thus throw the doors and windows out of alignment. Alternatively, it could be that your crawlspace simply doesn’t have enough supports in place.

Most foundation problems aren’t all that difficult to fix. However, it is still important that you take action as soon as you notice the problem. Otherwise, you could quickly find your home facing even more serious structural issues. The best thing to do is let professional foundation repair experts handle the situation. If you are in the San Antonio, Dallas, or Fort Worth  area and have sticking windows or doors, contact GL Hunt today for a free estimate.