Tips on Repairing a Squeaky Door Hinge

“The squeaky door hinge always gets the grease!”
Isn’t that what they say?
Oh, no…it’s “the squeaky WHEEL always gets the grease”. Sorry ’bout that! But, it holds true with hinges, too.

Squeaky door-hinges are not always resolved by a simple ‘grease ‘n go’ approach, I’m afraid. Sometimes what sounds like a ‘squeaky hinge’ might be wood-on-wood, if the door is somehow rubbing in its jamb.
While I cannot provide any “magic”, I’ll tell my personal experiences with such things.

First of all, it’s a MUST to ‘STOP/LOOK/LISTEN’. Not necessarily in that order, but to determine exactly where the “squeak” is coming from it’s imperative to perform the “swing-test” using at least these three of your five senses…you might even get to use a fourth sense, “touch”, but I’ll save that for later.

To perform the “swing-test”, follow these simple directions.
1. Ensure the surrounding area is quiet, before you start.
2. Standing on the side of the door where you recall noticing the
squeak to be loudest, gently swing the door through its complete arc. Repeat several times, varying the speed of the swing and taking particular note of:
-WHERE, exactly, the squeak is coming from. You should be able to pinpoint the location to within an inch or so quite readily.
-WHEN, precisely, the squeak is most pronounced. That is, does it sound louder when you swing the door slower or when you swing it faster? And, at what point in its swing is the sound most pronounced?
-WHY, ultimately, the squeak is occurring. This is your ultimate goal, and by golly here we are!

Now we get to play some “IF/THEN” tricks:
IF you’ve determined the squeak is coming from the hinge(s), THEN perform the following two simple remedies:
1. Tighten all screws in all hinges
2. Carefully tap a flat-head screwdriver blade between the hinge-pin head and the hinge body to separate the pin-head from the hinge. Squeeze a few drops of sewing-machine oil, 3-in-1 oil, or carefully spray a little WD-40 into the space between the hinge body and the hinge-pin head. By applying the lubricant in the space provided by separating the hinge-pin from the hinge-body, it enables the lubricant to seep down the length of the pin, within the hinge body, thereby providing the best lubrication coverage.

That should resolve the SQUEAK…if you had accurately determined the cause and source.

On the other hand, if you might have misunderstood the origin of the squeak, fear not. All is not lost. Nor is there any cause for shame nor embarrassment nor feelings of inadequacy! Indeed…these squeaks can and WILL be about as elusive as anything can be. And, hey…those hinges needed those things you did anyway!

OK…on to “if-it’s-not-the-hinge” kind of squeak.
IF you’ve determined the squeak is coming from wood-on-wood (i.e., hinge-binding), THEN you’ll need to do the swing-test again, and THEN you’ll need to release-the-bind.

During this swing-test, take particular note of how the hinge-side of the door settles into the door-jamb and how it makes final contact with the door-stop in the jamb.

Now…here’s where we talk about that fourth sense, “touch”, coming into play:
-If closing the door has a “springy” feeling just as it’s almost in the closed position, chances are very good that the door is hinge-bound, which causes the door and jamb material to rub in such a way as to cause your squeak.
Releasing hinge-bound doors requires just a little bit more work than the hinge-squeak, but it’s nothing overwhelming, so don’t panic just yet!

To repair a hinge-bound door requires removal of the door.
-Remove the screws in the jamb side of the hinges, leaving the hinge intact on the door itself.
-In order to release the bind on the hinges, you’ll need to chisel out the existing hinge recesses in the direction of the hinge “barrel”. Usually, it takes a little guesswork and trial-and-error to chisel just the right amount to fully release the binding.
My personal rule-of-thumb in such things is to “take a little more than you think you need, but not so much you’ll be trying to put some back!”. How? In these kinds of situations, a matter of 1/32 of an inch can make a whole lot of difference. So, depending how much “meat” is remaining on the jamb board in question, you might take as much as 1/16-3/32 of an inch. That way, it’s still within the jamb board, and you now should have ample adjustment to work with in getting the door properly positioned and free of binding and free of that nasty old squeaking!

Once you’ve managed to carefully chisel out each hinge pocket, reinstall the door by screwing the hinges back onto the jamb board…adjusting it ever-so-slightly into your newly chiseled section. Check the door for plumb with a level, then check it for proper closing and relative ‘flushness’ all around the jamb.

Notice I didn’t say to check it for squeaks…..if THIS didn’t get rid of that squeak, I’d say you must have one tricky little mouse somewhere, who is snickering as he watches you stand there and swing that door back and forth while he tries to keep up with the “squeaking”. And, at the same time fighting off the giggles! Alas! The “Lone Hinger-Squeaker” rides again!

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