Everybody loves a squeaky-clean house but a squeaky door, on the other hand, is unwelcome and rather frustrating. From the slightest squeak during just the rainy days to the incessant screeches. They are sure to take you back to the days of chalk on blackboards in grade school. Hence, it is safe to say that no one enjoys such interruptions in their daily lives.
1. Commonly, the monsoon season brings with it these creaks and whining of hinges and wood. The noise is most often to be blamed on the heightened amount of moisture – the fabricated or painted protective layer applied on the hinge gives way to rust and corrosion. The minute all the lubricant dries up, the chafing and abrasion lead to a constant friction between the two surfaces.
2. Even without the rain, disuse (leaving the door ajar for a long time or entirely unused) and general aging can cause the protective layer in your door hinge to wear off and cause the door to squeak. For at least a few hours of the day or night, you keep all doors latched and locked. This keeps the wood from warping out of shape due to exposure to the elements.
3. With the primary culprit being the metal hinges and screws, the smallest squeak because of the metal-on-metal friction gets amplified by the wooden door – much like an acoustic guitar!
4. While the specific cause can be traced back to the metal hinges, warping of the wood (both of the door itself and of the wooden frame on the wall) can damage the way the hinges fit and move.
Even if there is no corrosion on the surface of the metal, it is possible that the warped door is pushing together the hinges, screws, and latches at angles that are forced and damaging. Often, this force can lead to future abrasions on the surface of the metal as well.
5. If you have recently gone through a renovation process, or are a new owner or tenant of a home you are not familiar with, the added problem of poorly painted hinges can also cause a stubborn squeaking sound.
As we have already concluded before that any friction can result in a noise, the thinnest layer of paint that has been applied to make the color of the hinges match the door or the accessories can be a cause of resistance.
Squeaky doors can almost always be fixed with a little lubrication. However, you may need to consider a complete re-haul if the situation calls for it.
If you’re unsure of what is causing the squeaking or have checked and noticed that there is no extensive damage to any part of the hinge or frame, then lubrication is your answer. Just like in your car engine, cycle chains, and locks, a smooth-running joint is all it takes!
There are multiple options of lubricants that are available. If you don’t have motor oil, you can always use a household substitute.
a) If you’re looking for a more permanent solution, or if you happen to live in an exceptionally humid area, then it’s a good idea to use a lubricant like Liquid Wrench or motor oil.
Oil based and penetrating, it takes care of future possibilities of rust and reaches deep into the joints and screws. In fact, most lubricants such as Liquid Wrench also have a fast-act formula which almost immediately dissolves any rust that may already be there.
b) A household substitute for such oils would be olive oil or butter, but their lubrication effectiveness will definitely be less.
c) Petroleum jelly is a good option, since, apart from being cheap and easily available, it also doesn’t drip. This should be kept in mind especially if you are concerned about stains. On the other hand, motor oil and other oil based lubricants remove surface rust and last a lot longer.
d) If grease is not an option, then you can always choose to use soap. Any household soap-bar can be rubbed onto the hinges till they are well lubricated. It is advised that you steer clear off soaps that contain glycerine in them as glycerine tends to attract moisture, which will lead to rapid rusting of the metal surface.
e) Coating your hinges in wax is another way to keep them dry, protected from the elements and frictionless – a method that is explained in further detail below in the DIY section of this article. Both paraffin wax, as well as beeswax, work very well as far as this method is concerned, though the latter is harder to source.
f) If you’re looking for a more professional approach, a silicon lubricant like WD-40 handles the issue of both grease stains and water resistance all in one. Creating a protective coat around the hinge pin that saves it from both moisture and corrosion, silicone lubricants are transparent and usually come as sprays and gels which are easy to apply evenly.
Step 1 – Once you have the lubricant of your choice, you just need to rub and ease it into the hinge and joints, slowly moving the door to make sure it seeps right in. If you’re using a spray, make sure it doesn’t soak too much into the adjoining wooden surfaces or the wall – it is bound to leave behind a stain of some sort and a greasy stain is not one that lets out easy.
Step 2 – When the lubricant has trickled into the hinge and its gaps, it will adhere well and stay there for quite a while, just as with the protective coat of wax.
Step 3 – Lubricants like petroleum jelly, household oils and soap can be applied by hand onto the hinge, but when it comes to substances like wax then you will need to dismantle the door and dip the hinge pins in molten wax.
For those of you who cannot tolerate the repeated need to lubricate, or have tried and failed because of factors such as the weather conditions or poor quality metallic hinges, there is a more permanent solution. It is a little bit more complex than just simple lubrication, but it isn’t difficult to do at home as long as you’re handy with a toolkit!
What do you need to do?
Disassemble the door and its hinges from the frame, clean it thoroughly, lubricate and reassemble.
Step 1 – Loosen the Hinges
With the help of a hammer, repeatedly tap the hinge pin from underneath with the nail. This will loosen the hinge pin and eventually you will be able to pull it out of the hinge by hand.
If the pin binds, to relieve the pressure you can lift the door up — this will make the process of loosening the pin easier but you will probably need someone to lend you a hand. Still not coming off easy? Use a flat blade screw driver to wedge under the head of the hinge pin and drive it up.
Work at one hinge at a time so that you don’t have to take out the entire door and during the process, keep the door shut for safety. As long as the door is leaning on the frame, there is very little chance of it toppling over.
Step 2 – Dismantle the Door
Once you have the hinge pins loosened and ready to pull out, slide a piece of foam or cardboard under the door to avoid damage to your floors and skirting.
Slowly lift the weight of the door off the hinges, taking help to balance off the weight if necessary.
Step 3 – Clean the Hinges Thoroughly
Clean the hinge pin with the help of the steel wool. A steel wool pad will remove any and all rust, dust and peeling paint; something that just the application of lubricant would not have achieved.
A thorough cleaning will make the lubricant stick to the hinges and the pins for an extended period of time as well. For tougher stains, rust or hard water marks, it’s a good idea to use a household cleaner and a rough rag – squeaky clean hinges for minimum squeaks!
Step 4 – Lubricate or Coat
Choose a lubricant of your choice and coat or apply it thoroughly on the hinge and hinge pin. Coating the hinge pins in white lithium grease is supposed to be very effective but if you’re in a hurry, a little dish soap or grease will also work.
Another process one can follow is that of dipping the hinges and pins into melted paraffin wax, thus coating the hinges and pins entirely in wax.
Melt the wax pieces/ blocks on a gas stove for a few minutes till it melts evenly. If you have an electric stove or a microwave, you can use those as well – in fact they are preferable for this process since even slight overheating can cause of inflammable vapours.
Assure that the wax is molten entirely before you dip in the hinge pins so that the coat is thin and even. A thick coat often chips off easily, and even a slight gap in the layer will immediately let in moisture.
Often you may need to coat the pins with more than one layer of wax, as a singular coat may not be enough to entirely handle the squeaking sound. Dry the pins once they are coated for at least 10 minutes before you put them back. This is because the warm wax wipes off easily from the surface.
Step 5 – Assemble the Pieces
Prop the door back on card board, align its hinges and fix the pins in place. Test the door – it should move and back and forth smoothly and absolutely silently. Add a little bit more lubricant after you put it back in place. This is just till it falls back in place perfectly.
With an oil based lubricant, you will need to wipe of the access otherwise it can stain and drip. Double check if the hinges are in place and are tight; even one piece out of place can compromise the strength of the door and cause serious accidents.
If you are considering lubrication and squeaky hinges, don’t forget the metallic fixtures that need timely lubrication as well. Locks and hinges can begin to rust and screech when they are not in use.
Dismantling and cleaning fittings can be rather time consuming and unnecessary. Use a bottle with a nozzle cap to oil them from time to time, that is more than enough.
Your home is now free of that pesky squeaky noise. You will no longer have to worry about sneaking out for that midnight snack. If you are looking to prevent squeaky doors and rust then it’s a good idea to shift to stainless-steel.