Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.
During the summer, all you want to do is open your entryway to let in extra light and probably watch your kids play outside while preventing any bugs from entering your home. And during bitter winter weather, it’s crucial to have an insulating barrier for keeping warm air. A storm door can provide you with these benefits.
Here are some tips for how to make a storm door open wider:
- Properly install the door.
- Adjust the bracket distance.
- Reconfigure the safety chain if present.
- Notice the door brand.
- Check for a faulty closer pin.
- Mount the door to a z-bar.
- Replace a cheap spring-loaded door closer.
- Fix the sagging screen door.
- Change or clean rusty hinges and door parts.
Whether your door never opened wide from day one or the fault happened over time with usage, there’s a solution for you. Let’s look at these tips one at a time to get your storm door opening completely.
1. Properly Install the Door
Some doors may not open as wide as they should if the installation isn’t correctly installed. It’s recommended that the brackets on the frame be placed a quarter inch from the storm door frame during installation and the closer be mounted 18 inches (45.72 cm) from the hinge side edge of the door. Anything more than that, the door won’t be fully open if the door closer is installed.
Check out this video to learn how to properly install a storm door:
2. Adjust the Bracket Distance
Storm doors should swing open up to about 85 degrees (1.48 rad), so if your door swings open up to three-quarters of the way, the jamb bracket must be adjusted with that.
To test for bracket distance, pull the pin from the closer when you have the door closed. The bracket is installed too far away if it springs back more than 1/8 inch (3.17 mm). Once you adjust the bracket distance, the door will open properly.
3. Reconfigure Safety Chain if Present
A distance between the chain and bracket could also be a contributing factor. (If the door has a double-cylinder closer, you might not have a chain, since most companies don’t include it.)
If a safety chain is present, the chain bracket might be too far away from the hinges, resulting in the door not opening completely.
To open up your storm door to the maximum, make sure the jamb bracket is mounted a quarter inch away from the edge of the z-bar. The further away, the less the door will open and the harder it’ll be to push the door open.
4. Notice the Door Brand
When your storm door doesn’t open wide enough, it may be the brand of the door, and the cylinder rod may be shorter on specific models. Even after using their specifications, your storm door still won’t be able to open to 90 degrees (1.57 rad), but perhaps up to about 75 degrees (1.30 rad).
If this doesn’t help, consider getting the cylinder adjusted. Unfortunately, if the door still doesn’t open wide enough, you’ll have to replace it with another door that better suits your taste (or learn to make do with what you have).
5. Check for a Faulty Closer Pin
The opening distance of closers is usually fine until a pin gets faulty. When this happens, taking out the pin will help.
It’s possible to check for a faulty pin by removing both closers and opening the door. Should the door open fully, the fault was with the closer. Try reconnecting the closers one after the other, and test the door each time. Once you detect which of the closers had a faulty pin, you can contact the company and have a new closer sent.
6. Mount the Door to a Z-Bar
Sometimes houses are constructed in a way that the door frame is good enough for the main entry door but not wide enough for your screen door to swing out to a full 90 degrees (1.57 rad).
You can solve this issue by getting a z-bar to mount the storm door outside the door frame. A z-bar will provide extra room for free movement of the door, and the good news is it can be custom-fit to suit your doorframe, no matter the size.
7. Replace a Cheap Spring-Loaded Door Closer
In cases where there’s additional room for the door to open without the closer hitting the jamb, the issue isn’t the length of the close, it’s the quality of the closer spring.
Some companies provide cheap spring-loaded closers with their doors. As a result, such springs don’t have enough tension and, therefore, they can’t open a storm door freely.
If you have an entry door, you could try replacing it with a residential door closer. It’s the same idea as a commercial closer, but a lot smaller in size. It could be retrofitted, so it works with the storm door.
Such closers are more expensive, but they’re ultimately more effective than the inferior ones that come with most storm doors.
8. Fix the Sagging Screen Door
In some cases, you may find that your screen door doesn’t open all the way and is dragging on the floor. It most likely is because the hinges are loose or missing. If the screen door needs to be aligned again, the problem can be fixed by simply replacing the hinge screws. To hold the hinges in place more effectively, choose screws a bit larger than the originals.
In addition to new screws, installing a shim could help to limit the wear and tear and fix sagging. It might help to disengage the bottom hinge and wipe the bottom of the hinge free of dirt and debris. Put a strip of cardboard or wood by the hinge and secure it. Afterward, reinstall all the pieces, and move the door back and forth to ensure alignment.
A thicker wooden shim might have to be used if the screen door is still out of place. You can also use a screen door turnbuckle instead for better reinforcement.
9. Change or Clean Rusty Hinges and Door Parts
Rust is no longer an issue for new storm doors, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an ongoing problem for the old model, wooden storm doors. Cleaning it every few months will prevent rust.
Ideally, to prevent the effects of rust, you should replace your storm door with a new one. Weather resistance and rust-proofing have been improved with newer doors. Aluminum storm doors, in particular, are a great choice because they don’t require any maintenance.
Nevertheless, if purchasing a new door isn’t in your budget, keeping an older storm door clean will prolong its lifespan. You should regularly maintain your storm door to ensure it lasts for many years and retains its appearance.
For all their benefits, some storm doors don’t open all the way, and this can be frustrating. Even worse, sometimes these doors come defective from the factory. Plus, storm doors are often exposed to weather elements and, as a result, can get damaged. Not to mention the wear and tear of general use. Nonetheless, when necessary, proper care and some tweaks can make you enjoy your storm door for a long time.
- Fine Home Building: Storm Door Needs To Open Further
- Larson Doors: The Truth About Rust On Your Door
- Houzz: Storm Door Will Not Open Fully To 90 Degrees
- Hunker: How To Fix A Sagging Storm Door
- Youtube: How to Install a Storm Door
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