How to Fix Problems With Storm Doors: Problem 1 – It’s Not Latching

Annual maintenance of storm doors is a necessity. Because of hot and cold weather, the forces of nature, and the forces of kids and pets, sometimes they get out of balance and don’t work properly. Fortunately, most of the time the fix is quite simple. Let’s discuss the first primary, easy to fix problem with them: The door is not closing and latching properly.

This problem is usually cause by 1 of 2 things. First, the door has gotten out of square. This can be cause by wind damage, someone running into it, or just simply gravity. One of the warning signs that it is out of square is that you have to pull up on the door handle in order to get it to close. Another sign when you stand inside the house with the storm door closed, and you look at the top, can you see daylight shining through on one side but not the other? Yet another warning sign is standing outside looking at the top of it. If you look at the space between the top of the storm door and the top of the frame (called the “reveal”), does the space look uniform across the top? Or does it look like it’s a bigger gap on one side than another? If the gap is not uniform, then you’ll have to resquare the door.

To resquare, just remove all but the top screws on the the hinge frame of the storm door. The top screws are left in to act as a pivot point and to make sure the door doesn’t fall on you. Then, move the door and frame over until the reveal at the top of the door is uniform, redrill holes for the screws, and screw the door back down. Voila! It’s resquared!

If it’s not out of square, then the second option is that the strike plate is off center with the latch and deadbolt. To test this, open the storm door and lock the deadbolt, close the door and take a pencil and mark where the top and bottom of the latch and deadbolt touch the frame. Then, trace those lines horizontally around the frame to the strike plate(s). If the lines don’t match to the holes in the strike plate, adjust the strike plate up or down as needed.

If these 2 things don’t work, then adjust the door closers to close faster. If that doesn’t work, then if you have no screen in the door, the reason is a buildup of air pressure between your front door and storm door. At that point it’s physics; the storm door won’t close on it’s own if the entry door is closed completely. You’ll just have to push it shut yourself.