Have you ever tried to get a midnight snack, only to encounter several squeaky doors that are looking to expose you? Well, if that has ever happened, you’ll be glad to learn how to open a squeaky door quietly.
There are two ways to go about it: you can either manipulate the door in a way that will momentarily prevent the noise or address the underlying issues that are causing it. Today, I’ll explain how to do both, though my main focus will be on the first method.
Tips for Instant Noise Reduction
To begin with, let’s set the scene. Your growling stomach has woken you up in the middle of the night. It won’t be pacified. But, there are two squeaky doors between your bed and the kitchen, separated by a seemingly mile-long corridor that is lined with your sleeping housemates’ bedrooms.
Obviously, you wouldn’t want to wake your housemates. But it’s not like you have the time to get your tools and address whatever is causing the noise. So let’s talk about some subtle techniques you could use to prevent the doors from exposing you.
1. Finesse the Lock
First things first, you should check if the door is locked before reaching for the doorknob. When you pull down or twist the handle, you’ll want to keep it down until you can get a grip on the other half of it. You won’t be able to do that if you end up having to release it to unlock the door.
To be safe, try turning the key before doing anything else. You should do it slowly, especially when you feel the resistance as the deadbolt starts turning. Most locks will turn twice before they unlock fully, so keep turning until the deadbolt retracts completely.
2. Fully Turn the Doorknob
Once you’re sure the door is unlocked, take the doorknob with the hand that’s closer to the hinges. Then, turn it as far as it’ll go. If the handle is fully functional, that should completely retract the latch bolt, allowing you to open the door soundlessly.
Once you have the knob fully turned or pressed down, you shouldn’t release it until you’ve closed the door. That should prevent the spindle from springing back into place and producing a loud sound. What’s more, you won’t hear the telltale clicking noise of the latch bolt settling into place when the door closes.
3. Slightly Lift the Door as You Open It
Still holding onto the doorknob with one hand, make sure to lift the door as you swing it open. Do this part as quickly as possible to get ahead of the squeaking noises that might come from rusty hinges. After all, the slower you open the door, the more drawn-out the sound will be.
Even if the door in question doesn’t have hinges, lifting it will help alleviate the pressure that’s causing the noise. For example, sliding doors tend to squeak because of the irregular weight distribution on the tracks. So here, you’re using the same principle I explained in my article on opening windows quietly.
Fortunately, it’s easy to prevent that kind of noise by simply pulling the door up as you open it. You won’t even have to use your other hand — just the one that’s already holding the doorknob. In any case, you’ll need your other hand for the next part.
4. Grab the Doorknob on the Other Side of the Door — or Don’t
Earlier, I told you to twist the doorknob with the hand that’s closer to the hinges. That’s because you need to be able to reach the handle on the other side of the door. So that’s exactly what you’ll do now.
Once you’ve grabbed that outside handle, twist it completely before releasing the one you gripped earlier. That will prevent it from snapping back on either side.
Alternatively, you can carefully release the internal doorknob and leave the door open. But, in that case, make sure it doesn’t slam shut by using a draft stopper.
5. Close the Door
If you want to close the door after yourself, you’ll have to transfer your grip to the external doorknob. Then, keep your hand on the handle until you have fitted the door back into the frame.
Again, you’ll want to elevate it and close the door quickly. Slowing down about an inch away from the door frame will prevent you from slamming the door. After you have it flush against the frame, release the handle slowly to extend the latch bolt.
And there you have it! You’ve successfully manipulated a squeaky door into submission. Now, you’ll just have to do the same to any loose floorboards you find on your way to the kitchen.
Addressing the Underlying Causes of the Noise
On the other hand, if you have the time to deal with the problem head-on, you should, by all means, do so! After all, it would spare you all the stealthy machinations I’ve just described.
If you decide to fix the underlying cause of the noise, you should focus your attention on these areas:
- The hinges or the sliding tracks, which you could fix with some WD-40 spray and a screwdriver. Lubricate the metal parts by blasting them with the spray. If they are incredibly rusty, you might have to take them apart and clean them before proceeding. Once you’ve put them back together, you should tighten the screws that hold the door and frame hinges.
- The doorknob or handle, which you can lubricate after taking off the faceplate. Once you clean and lubricate the locking mechanism and turn the knob a few times, it should be smooth sailing from there.
- The keyhole, which could also use a spritz of lubricant, while you’re already near the handle. It’ll definitely help the key turn more easily, thereby eliminating the need to implement the measures I’ve explained above.
If you don’t have a commercial lubricant, you could use petroleum jelly (i.e., Vaseline), paraffin candle wax, or olive oil. Keep in mind, though, that you’ll have to move the door a bit to distribute the product, so you might hear a few final squeaks. If you don’t want to deal with noise at all, you could combine these tips with the techniques I explained earlier.
Sneak Around Without Fear of Discovery
If you’re prone to nightly snack breaks, these tips should help you get around the house without rousing the whole neighborhood. You could even use them to sneak out of the house in broad daylight without your parents’ knowledge. Hey, I can hardly be held responsible for the potentially nefarious purposes you decide to use my advice for! All I can do is offer up my best noise reduction tips — the rest is up to you.