Sticking Doors

Dear NH,
This summer, it seems all my doors have been sticking. They are all difficult to open and close. The windows also don't want to open. I assume it has to do with moisture from improved A/C. Is there anything I can do aside from trimming them down? Maybe "Damp Rid"? I didn't want to invest in anything without some advice.
TB from Anderson, SC

You have a common problem without many solutions. "Damp Rid" and similar moisture-absorbent compounds are not very effective, even within the closed spaces they are designed to dehumidify. Though they indeed absorb lots of moisture, they become useless once saturated and need to be dried out. This necessary user-attention gives them a "D" in my grade book.

Increased air conditioning should lessen your seasonal moisture problem, since A/C removes moisture from the air, not increases it as you seem to think. However, since exterior windows and doors only get the lowered humidity on one side, I haven't found A/C to be especially helpful in relieving seasonal humidity-related door and window swelling.

For the short term, lubrication on the windows' rubbing areas (wax, stick or paste for wood windows) can be somewhat helpful. Lubrication on the doors, however, is not very effective, so a little sanding of the rubbing areas can help. However, don't do too much since they will shrink again!

For the long term, a fresh coat of paint can keep swelling under better control. Your old paint job may look fine, but those little cracks allow moisture into the wood promoting swelling.

Also, many people don't realize that wood doors must be sealed on all edges, including the top and bottom. Sealing the bottom can be a little tricky without removing the door. A method I've used is to soak a rag in a wood sealer or finish. Then, I put a piece of plastic tarp under the door and run the rag between the door bottom and the tarp to coat it. Wipe any excess sealant off the visible surfaces of the door, allow to dry for at least a week, and then repaint the rest of the door (including the top).

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