I've been writing on DenGarden for over 5 years and have over 25 years of experience working in the window and door trade.
Adjusting uPVC Doors
Is your door dropped or sagging? Is your door catching at the top, side, or bottom of the door frame? Is it worse when the sun is shining or when it's hot outside? You may need to readjust your door hinges. Proper door alignment not only allows the door to open and close smoothly but also prevents drafts and uneven wear and tear. You can realign your doors by adjusting the hinges. However, to determine how to adjust the hinges, you should first determine what is causing your door to be misaligned.
How Do I Check if My Door Is Out of Alignment?
- Are the corners on the door and frame aligned? You only need to check one of the corners to make sure the miter joints on the door and door frame are in line.
- Is the door level? Do this by placing a level on top of the door.
- Are the gaps between the door and frame consistent throughout?
What Type of Hinge Do I Have?
The next step is to identify what type of door hinge you have. There are three types of hinges used on uPVC doors:
- Flag hinges: Most modern uPVC doors are equipped with flag hinges that allow you to make height, lateral, and compression adjustments. Compression adjustments move the door closer to or away from the door jamb.
- T-hinges: These hinges only allow you to make height and lateral adjustments.
- Butt hinges: Usually a feature of older uPVC doors, these offer either lateral adjustment only or no adjustments at all. If you have a butt hinge and need to adjust the height, you may need to reinstall your door.
How to Adjust uPVC Door Hinges
Tools You Will Need
- Allen wrenches (hex keys)
- Flat head screwdriver
- Philips head screwdriver
This hinge has three different adjustments.
- Height: The height adjuster on flag hinges is on the bottom and may or may not be covered by a plastic plug. You'll need an Allen wrench for this. The typical size is 5 mm, although this can vary depending on the manufacturer.
- Lateral: The lateral adjuster can be hidden behind a plastic cover (the "flag") or behind a small plug on the side farthest from the door frame. The plastic cover is usually held on by one or two Philips screws on the inside of the hinge—visible when you open the door. Remove the screws carefully to release the cover, and look for the Allen bolt on the side. Turning it clockwise will move the door towards the hinge, while turning it counterclockwise will move it away from the door hinge.
- Compression: The compression adjuster is located at the top of the hinge under a plastic plug. Carefully pop the plug out using a flat head screwdriver to reveal the Allen bolt underneath. Tightening this bolt brings the door closer to the door frame, creating a tighter seal.
If your door is too low or too high (consistently along the width of the door), then you probably only need to adjust the height.
If the handle side of your door is too close or too far away from the door frame (consistently along the length of the door), then you probably only need to adjust laterally.
If your door doesn't close all the way, or you notice a draft even though the height and sides are adjusted properly, then you probably need to adjust the compression.
If your door has dropped and is tilted downward (i.e. the door isn't level, and the gaps around the door are consistent all the way around), then you need to use all three adjusters. This is common as time goes—helped on by gravity, heat, and humidity. Usually, the door can be squared up again by adjusting the top hinge towards the frame and the bottom hinge away from the frame. The compression is also usually tightened to restore the seal lost through wear.
This hinge only has two types of adjustments.
- Compression: Adjusters on the top and bottom will move the door closer to or away from the door jamb, tightening or loosening the seal.
- Lateral: Like the flag hinge, the lateral adjuster is hidden behind a plastic cover that can be removed in a similar manner.
Some butt hinges are non-adjustable, but there are some that can be adjusted laterally. If you look on the side, you will see a Philips head screw. But before you try to turn this screw, check to see if there is a small grub screw as this locks the hinge in place so the door won't move. Not all butt hinges have a grub screw, but the door won't move unless you loosen it.
I Adjusted the Hinges, but My Door Is Still Not Aligned
Note that it may take a few tries to properly adjust all the hinges. If you still cant get your door squared up after a few attempts, you may just need new hinges. Hinges are usually inexpensive and aren't hard to replace. Most companies will do the replacement for you at a low cost. You should ring at least two companies to compare service prices.
If you're going to replace the hinges yourself, you will find it's a lot easier if you leave the door sash on the frame and replace one hinge at the time. This way, your hinges will all line up.
Also make sure the diameter of the screw is the appropriate size for the holes on the hinge. Otherwise, over time, your door sash will sag down, forcing you to adjust or replace them again in the future.
Feel free to ask any questions by posting them in the comment box below.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: Why has the UPVC door dropped slightly at the handle of the door?
Answer: Some doors will drop slightly after fitting. How much they drop will depend on how they are fitted plus how good the panel and glass is fitted to the frame. If the lock is still working perfect and there are no drafts coming in then, there is no need to do anything. But if you are having a problem, then you will need to adjust the hinges. Plus, if after adjusting the hinges up and the door drops again after a few weeks then you more than likely will need to redo the toe and healing of the door. This involves taking out the glass or panel and refitting it and making sure it is packed tight against the door sash. So there is no room for any sagging.
Question: Should the door be opened when adjusting the hinges on a UPVC door?
Answer: Just make sure the lock is not locked, as this will hold door to frame at lock side.
Question: I've just bought a new UPVC cobalt front door. When I leave my house, I have to lock the door with my key, otherwise, it will remain open. When I queried this with the suppliers, they said the locking system works like a back door. If I wanted to change the mechanism, I could pay for a new part. I think they're trying it on ain't they? Plus would my insurance cover a door like this?
Answer: You have what's called a lever/lever system which must be locked with a key on both sides. What you wanted was a lever/pad system which locks behind you when you go out. This system does cost a bit more.
But when you ordered the door, the salesperson should have given you this option to choose locks. So try telling them that you ordered the lever/pad system and it's there fault it's the wrong system. If you wanted a backdoor system on your front door, you would have asked for it.
Plus for insurance it doesn't matter which locking system you have once it multipoint locking
Question: What grease do I use for a catching UPVC door?
Answer: Get a spray grease. This will leave a light coating on hardware and is not thick enough for dirt and other stuff to stick to hardware.
Question: The bottom part of the door (with butt hinges) doesn't close at all, preventing door closure. I have tried taking out the metal sockets into which the sliding parts enter, nothing changed, and it remains exact same amount of open. Another symptom, if it matters, on an open-door mode - the upper part opens too (the mode where only upper part is lowered inwards as to not open the whole door/window, but get some air in). What could I do?
Answer: Sounds like the hinge is slightly bent. If this is the case you will need a new butt hinge. Note - Hinges can get bent in a number of different ways. Most common way is if a stone gets lodged on the frame on hinge side and someone than closes the door. Or on an open out door if the wind catches it and bangs the door leaf of the cement reveal. Also another way is people running an electric cable out the door on the hinge side for outdoor Christmas lights.
Question: I have a 5 or 6mm gap on the bottom corner lock side of my car when the door is closed. I can adjust the door so that the gap is almost gone when locked, but is there anything I can do to get my door resting on the seal? The door is brand new full glass UPVC with T-hinges.
Answer: Sounds like the door frame has been fitted of square. Get a level and check the door frame. Note it can be either side which could be off. The hinge side or the lock side. If this is the case you would be better off getting the fitters back and re-fitting the door.
The way it is now, is only putting extra pressure on the lock and handles to lock the door which will result in a shorter lifespan.
Question: A bolt is popping out of the top of a butt hinge, but my Allen key seems like it's not catching. How else can I screw a bolt into my butt hinge?
Answer: More than likely you have rounded the tread. It could be better to install a new butt hinge.
Question: The top of the door and bottom meet the frame first when I'm closing the door the middle seems hard to catch the keep. What can I do to fix my door's alignment?
Answer: Ether your door is after warping OR the door frame was fitted badly. If its the door frame it just meant re-fitting the door on the keep side. If your door is after warping not much you can do about that. As you will always have trouble with it.
Question: Every few weeks my PVC door drops and the top flag hinge needs to be moved laterally to the left so the door can be closed and locked. The door has been installed for c12 years and GS got worse over the last 6 months. Does the hinge need changing?
Answer: Sounds like the hinge needs changing alright, or you could just take the cap of the hinge so you can see the adjustments and put an extra screw in it to stop the hinge unscrewing itself.
Question: 2 of the 3 screws on my top flag hinge mount of my french door will not tighten, they just turn in the hole in the frame and the hinge wobbles. I cant get them out to replace them as the hinge is in the way. What are my options please?
Answer: Just open the door and lift it upwards. If you have flag hinges than door should just lift of when open. Once off just replace the screws with bigger ones
Question: I can’t align the cover screw holes with the screws on a UPVC flag hinge?
Answer: Some styles of flag hinge covers need a tap of a mallet to get them to clip back into position
Question: Can you suggest a suitable tool to adjust the compression on a 25 yr old T hinge?
Answer: An Alan Key or Hex key should help fix your hinge's alignment.
Question: My front door uses butt hinges with a small grub screw. It needs an alignment. Is it a must, to loosen grub screws, align, then tighten them? How loose should they be? I noticed some fitters do not touch them, why?
Answer: There are so many different types it's hard to say. As some of these are to just hold the pin in. And on others, they are used to adjust the door left or right by a few mm. The best thing you can do is to mark the position of the door. Then turn the screw and see if the sash moves. if it doesn't it's more than likely just holding the pin in.
Question: Do I need to loosen the six screws holding the hinge to the door before adjustment with the Allen key ?
Answer: No - Just turn the adjustment nut and you will see door moving. Plus if you put a small pencil mark on door this will help you see door movement better.
Martin (author) from Ireland on January 12, 2020:
Mark there is no easy way to fix these But there is tool you can buy for turning rounded nuts. Most big hardware stores will have them
Mark Johnston on January 12, 2020:
Is there an easy way to fix plastic allen key bit on flag hinge as door has fell to side a bit and someone has tried to fix and its all chewed allen key wont work
Jay on November 02, 2019:
Very useful info great help Big thankyou.
Adrian on May 16, 2018:
I have just installed patio doors to my summer house / wine shack but now find that the hinges have dropped
Will on September 21, 2017:
Informative article but your grammar, spelling and punctuation need attention!
jimmy on July 04, 2017:
door fitted by FESA company 18 month ago .dooframe bent jams door what waranty do I get
firstname.lastname@example.org on June 26, 2017:
As a joiner of man and boy, UPVC and the like are all new to me . So thank you for the tips on how to sort out my kitchen door from catching on the frame.
Keith on April 09, 2017:
The problem with pvc doors is that they are very flimsy if you lookat glass paneled doors they go out of shape and this is the reason why they catch! The thing that keeps them in shape is the double glazed glass the way to correct this is to remove the glass and repack the glass in opposite corners so you stop the pannel going diamond shape
Martin (author) from Ireland on October 14, 2016:
You can buy them from any window supplier But you will have to buy the full hinge as caps are not sold on there own.
Krt on October 13, 2016:
Where can I buy replacement upvc door hinge caps?
Martin (author) from Ireland on May 07, 2016:
good to hear Alex
Alex on May 07, 2016:
Just followed your excellent instructions and adjusted my door saving avoiding having to call someone out! Thank you!
Martin (author) from Ireland on June 27, 2015:
screw cover is just clipped on. Get a sharp edge to go under cap and lift off
Sanath on April 24, 2015:
Hi, I am planning to replace flag type door hinge. It is exactly the one you show in your video. Please can you tell me how to remove the hinge cover to get access to screws.
Martin (author) from Ireland on April 09, 2015:
More than likely the hinges just need adjusting. What part of the door is catching when you try to close it
jimcooper on April 09, 2015:
I have a new door and it wont close properly
Gavin spearing on January 05, 2015:
Nice one, cheers mate
Martin (author) from Ireland on January 05, 2015:
Look closely at hinge you should see a small hex nut, loosen that and you can than tap the metal pin out which holds the hinge together
Gavin spearing on January 05, 2015:
Hi, I need to actually remove a door because of a new floor being laid, it has the butt hinges, how do you actually remove the door, as in how do I get the hinge away from frame?
Dave on December 14, 2014:
Martin you are a star...!!!
Catching door now adjusted and working like new.
Cheers fella.. :)
Tony on October 17, 2014:
Excellent tips thanks, especially the part about marking the frame with a pencil to see which way the door adjusts when turning the allen key adjustment. Took about 10 minutes to adjust my door so it no longer catches on the frame and it is now much easier to lock.
Chrissi on October 05, 2014:
Very helpful indeed,, I knew roughly but did not know each hinge played a different part ,,, now I am sorted. ,,,,ol lady here cheers
Peter on August 31, 2014:
Just taken your advice on how to adjust flat hinges as my front door had dropped. It now closes perfectly. Thanks for such clear instructions. Bless you.
John on August 13, 2014:
Thanks for the advice , My front door had been catching mainly in the summer through heat expansion for about eight years ,
it is now working perfectly again ,thank you ,
Martin (author) from Ireland on August 11, 2014:
Most hinges will have a small screw at the back of the cap. Open your door fully and you should be able to see the screw at the back of the cap. BUT if your hinges are the same as the one in the picture. Than they are just a clip on cap. You will need a knife or something to prise them off.
It is quite hard to unclip these and you might damage the hinge or door so start with one at the bottom in case you do damage or scratch the hinge. Once you get one off you will see how it is clipped on and you should find the others more easy to get off.
vintageaxeman on August 11, 2014:
I have some double UPVC patio doors which are hinged with the same hinges that you show in your photo called a FLAG hinge. Mine are exactly the same as your pic, which is an old model which I can't get advice or spares about. The hinges seem ok but the screws holding the hinges onto the door have slowly loosened as the door has banged around in the wind over the years. Please can you advise me how to get the aluminium cover cap off the front of the hinge to do this. I just can't figure out how to get it off.
Many thanks, David
Martin (author) from Ireland on July 20, 2014:
Which way to turn the Allen key all depends on which side of the door the hinges are on. The best thing to do is put a small pencil mark on frame than give the nut a half turn and see which way the door moves
Rob on July 20, 2014:
it is a pity you don't explain which way to turn the Allen key.
On the side adjustment, does a clockwise turn pull it towards the hings or away?
On the side adjustment, does a clockwise turn pull it up or down?
geoff on April 10, 2014:
Add what's it called the tool you use for taking out the beading on double glazed unit thanksYour Comment...
Linda on January 08, 2014:
Thanks for info well done
ann on January 06, 2014:
Great info thanks
Michael on December 09, 2013:
Just adjusted my pvc door and it is working like new again. Thanks for the info.