I live in an old house. Well, sort of old…a brick-clad Italianate design built in 1873… and, while we and previous owners have modernized parts of the structure, many house elements are original or early 20th century. The door to the basement is original or close to it – thick tongue-in-groove planks arranged vertically, braced by horizontal and diagonal framing, set into a massive “old wood” door frame. Unlike the doors to the living space above, the basement door swings open to the outside. It is secured by a deadbolt and a thumb latch at the handle.
During the low humidity winter months, when we don’t use the basement door frequently, the door wood dries out and shrinks to the point that we need to wedge insulation around it to keep out the cold air. When unlocked, the door opens with the slightest pull. However, during the humid months from April through October, the door wood expands until it is well-wedged against the also-swollen old wood door frame.
So, during those humid months, if we’re working in the garden and we want to open the door from the outside to grab tools from the basement, pulling on the door handle won’t do it. No matter how much we yank and plead, pulling – applying pressure – in that one place simply increases the extent to which other parts of the door wedge against the door frame.
However, if we are able to persuade someone who is inside the house to descend the basement stairs and glide a few steps to the door, he or she can exert pressure at the top and bottom of the door as we pull from the outside and (it’s almost too easy at that point) the door opens. Multiple contact points and someone on the inside works like a charm.
Nick Miller trains bankers to attract and expand relationships with businesses. More profitable relationships, faster. He is President of Clarity Advantage based in Concord, MA. Additional articles on Clarity’s web site.
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