How to Fix a Door that Won’t Stay Open

A door that won’t stay open is one of the most frustrating problems to have around the house. It’s probably not a life or death emergency, but it can get in the way just often enough to drive anybody crazy. It could be a bathroom door that constantly bumps into you while you brush your teeth, or that magically slams shut in the night, convincing everyone within earshot that ghosts are real, and ruining any chances of restful sleep. It could be a bedroom door that lets the dog enter then the room then traps your faithful friend.

Why Won’t the Door Stay Open on its Own?

Most likely, the door is not “plumb” meaning that the hinges do not line up as they should. The door frame and door are tilted and the unbalanced weight of the door causes the door to close on its own. The door in question may not be plumb because its hinges and frame were improperly installed. More than likely, the door frame and hinges were installed correctly, but over time, due to the house settling, the doorframe has become out of plumb, resulting in the door not being plumb. Either way, the end result is the door will not stay open.

Door Wedges and Door Stops

Whatever the situation, it’s a problem that plenty of people have opinions on how to solve. A doorstop, whether it is a rubber wedge, a dusty old bowling trophy, or a stack of junk mail, is one common remedy, but they are often annoying. They constantly have to be removed, replaced, or readjusted, can easily get in the way, and can lose their grip on the door at any time. Moreover, a doorstop is only a temporary remedy; it does not actually fix the problem at hand.

Hinge Pins

One of the most commonly recommended solutions is to remove, clean, and oil the hinge pins. However, while this might be a good solution for a squeaky door, it won’t do much to fix a door that won’t stay open. In fact, this solution is more likely to make the problem worse. If the hinges are a little dirty, the dirt gives the pins a bit of friction, which might slow the door down. With the dirt removed, and with the pins freshly oiled, the door can swiftly and smoothly shut itself, and depending on how bad the problem is, you may now find that you have a door that slams on its own. A clean and well-oiled machine is usually a good thing, but not in this case.


Another common solution is to remove the pins and then re-insert them into the hinges with something else jammed in beside them. Some people refer to this as the “twist-tie” solution, as a twist-tie is commonly recommended, but other items are recommended as well, such as cocktail straws, zip-ties, or toothpicks. This solution offers the opposite of cleaning and oiling; it actually produces friction, which is a good thing. Attempting to drive the hinge pin back into the hinge while wedging it with another object, can result in a damaged hinge, injured fingers, and scuffed door trim. The increased friction should help keep the door from swinging shut. While this may solve the problem temporarily, it does not last long. Any of the items that people recommend for this solution always have in common the fact that they are small, flexible, and easily destroyed. After a few uses of the door, the twist-tie, or whatever else might have been inserted into the hinge, will get worn out, and you will be back to square one with a door that won’t stay open.

Bending the Hinge Pins

Some people seem to have identified the problem as originating from the top hinge pin on the door, due to the distribution of weight. Accordingly, they suggest that you should remove the top pin, bend it ever so slightly, and reinsert it. The slight bend should help create the friction necessary to keep the door from moving on its own. Do not do this. For the average person, a “slight bend” is far too easy to mess up, and a hinge pin can become quickly ruined, which will leave you with a new problems: a squeaking and creaking hinge, a damaged hinge or a door hanging on only two hinges.

The Shim

Looking beyond the pins to the hinges themselves, if they’re not set properly, you can try removing the bottom hinge, sliding a piece of cardboard under it and installing the hinge back to the door frame. This process, however, is more along the lines of wishful thinking than home improvement; it won’t do much to solve the problem, it can misalign the hinges, strip the hinge mounts in the doorframe and offset the door to the point that it no longer closes properly.

Resetting the Hinges

If you feel like taking on a more complicated project, you could try removing and resetting the hinges entirely. Of course, this requires tools, a pair of extra hands, and a good bit of precision and balance to do properly. The slightest mistake can mean that the door will continue to not be plumb, and larger mistakes can mean you are left with a non-functioning door. Besides that, even if you do it correctly, there is still no guarantee that resetting the hinges will solve the problem.

The Door Frame

This brings us to the doorframe itself. If something is wrong with the doorframe, if it has tilted or slightly warped from the house settling, none of the above common solutions will actually fix it. To really fix it, the doorframe will have to be cut out and reset by a professional. If you’re thinking this sounds expensive and messy, you’re right. Moreover, this isn’t a viable solution for everybody; if you live in an apartment building, or a historic home, for example, you probably can’t have this sort of renovation done, even if you wanted and could afford to. Additionally, if the door frame is out of plum due a structural problem and the door frame is reset without fixing the underlying problem, it will have to be reset again after the underlying problem is fixed.

Fixing the Problem

While all of the above proposed solutions have a variety of downsides. The Door Balancer provides an effective and affordable solution. The Door Balancer can be easily installed in minutes, the patented spring provides just enough tension to balance the door and keep the door from closing on its own. It won’t wear out like a twist-tie, doesn’t require damaging a hinge pin or re-hanging the door. At $7.99, it’s far more affordable than having the door frame cut out and reset. If you’re considering trying any of the above suggestions, or if you’ve tried them only to find they don’t work, save yourself some time and hassle. The Door Balancer is the fast, easy, effective, and affordable way to fix a door that won’t stay open.