Why Do I Have Sticking Doors and Windows? (Humidity & Foundation Issues)

Imagine it’s a beautiful day outside and you want to open the window to let a breeze in. The window moves quickly at first but then gets stuck.

You really put some muscle into it, but the window still refuses to budge.  

This is what the construction biz refers to as a sticky window.

This same phenomenon can also happen to doors, making them incredibly difficult to open and close.

What starts out as a simple inconvenience could be a serious risk to your health if you are unable to open a door or a window during a fire, earthquake, or other emergency.

Sticky doors and windows can happen for a number of reasons, whether it be a complication of expansive soil (foundation settlement or foundation heave) or humidity.  

In this article, we are going to cover:

  •   Signs and Symptoms of Sticky Doors and Windows
  •   Causes for Sticky Doors and Windows
  • How to Fix / How Not to Fix

Why Do Doors and Window Stick?

Doors and windows stick primarily due to humidity or foundation problems (settlement and/or heave stemming from expansive soil). For humidity, moisture soaks into the wood, causing it to swell and bulge up against the frame, increasing friction. For foundation issues, expansive soil exerts undue pressure on the soil transferring pressure up through the foundation and into the frame of the home.   

Signs and Symptoms of Sticky Doors and Windows

Like with everything in construction, there are obvious things to look for when it comes to home dysfunction like sticky doors and windows.

  •   The doors and windows won’t open or close correctly
  •   The doors and windows require extra umph to open or close
  •   Cracks appear from the outside of the window/doorframe
  •   Floors dip, sag, are generally uneven (may cause vertigo)
  •   Door/window frames are out of square
  •   Gaps appear between your door and doorframe, leaving little room for privacy
  •   Hard to close all of the way or open all of the way (to completion)

Doors and windows stick because they are housed in frames. In order to get stuck, you have to get stuck in something.

These frames are generally built with the rest of the wooden bones of the house.

If the frame is out of alignment, the window or door will get jacked up.

Conversely, if the door or window are compromised, they could get stuck on the frame.

It’s like when a kid tries to fit a rhombus into a square hole in their shape sorting toy. It’s not gonna happen. At least – not without some force. 

Causes of Sticky Doors and Windows

There are various reasons why your doors and windows might stick:

  •   The door hinges are out of alignment (*meaning – your handyman screwed up)  
  •   Moisture has soaked into your door/window frame, causing them to swell/stick
  •   Foundation problems (settlement or heave) is putting undue stress on your home’s framing structure.
  •   Your kid with peanut butter fingers has used the door as a swing

Whatever the cause of the sticky door/window, there are right ways to fix the issue and wrong ways to fix the issue.

How to fix Sticky Doors and Windows


For humidity, there are machines (dehumidifiers) you can purchase to suck the excess moisture out of the air in your home. If your humidity is greater than 70%, this likely is your culprit.

 If you’re not sure what your humidity levels are, you can buy a hygrometer (a machine specifically designed to measure humidity) at your local hardware store or on Amazon. 

If you have verified it is humidity and cannot afford a dehumidifier, you can shave your door down.

However, verify that it is fact only humidity and not a foundation issue before doing so if you have any interest in keeping the doors long-term.

 Foundation Issues

If your doors and windows are sticky and you do not have a humidity issue, then your home is either suffering from foundation settlement or foundation heave.

Your doors and windows may be sticky due to foundation issues. If this is the case, your home may require Push Pier or Helical Pier foundation repair.

Stop Straining Against the Stick

Humidity and foundation issues are your top enemies when it comes to sticky doors and windows. And, pro tip, if you live in Southern California or Central Arizona, humidity is not your issue. 

More often than not, in our neck of the woods, sticky doors and windows point to foundation settlement

If you enjoyed this article, you might also be interested in Why Do I have Cracks in My Home (Top 6 Cracks) and foundation repair cost. 

If you don’t live in our two lovely states, then you’re probably a foundation enthusiast, a steel pier aficionado, – keep reading our blog, link to your favorite page, keep the pier underground alive.

If you’re sick and tired of fighting sticky doors and windows and you live in sunny SoCal or arid Arizona, click on our link below for a FREE foundation repair inspection –


Brian Dalinghaus

Brian is one of the Co-Founders of Dalinghaus Construction. He has been in the foundation repair industry since 2005. During his career, he has been associated with helping over 4,000 homes and structures throughout California and Arizona.

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