Expert DIY advice on how to repair door knob locks and deadbolts, including common problems like a stuck or frozen door lock, door that won’t latch, stuck deadbolt, or keys broken off in the door lock.
Many door knob and lockset problems can be corrected before they become so serious that you get locked out or the lock does not work at all. Often, a broken door latch assembly or door lock mechanism causes the problem.
Here we look at DIY repairs for locks and knobs. If you have a key that won’t work in the lock, please see How to Repair Keyed Door Locks.
Sometimes a door lock mechanism may not work simply because it’s dirty or needs to be lubricated with graphite (do not use any type of oil because this will gum-up the works). An improperly functioning door latch may be the result of a poorly fitting door. In this article, you’ll learn how to fix both of these door knob problems.
For serious lock problems, it is usually best to call a locksmith or, if you can get the door open, to replace the lock entirely. Most door knobs on interior doors are relatively inexpensive to replace—in fact, it doesn’t usually pay to have interior door knobs or locks repaired by locksmith services unless the knobs or locks are special or particularly expensive. Interior door knob replacement is more affordable (exterior latches and locksets can be very pricey). You can buy door knobs online at Amazon.
I find that, when I need a professional locksmith to fix a high-quality door knob or lockset, it’s usually far less expensive to remove the hardware myself and take it to a locksmith as opposed to having the locksmith come to me. Of course, if it’s on an exterior door, I do this when the weather is nice and when it’s safe to leave the door unlocked.
When a door latch doesn’t click into position, it usually means the door latch and the strike plate on the door jamb are out of alignment. Tighten the door hinge screws and then, if necessary, adjust the strike plate by loosening its screws and shifting it slightly. Latch repairs range from making minor adjustments like this to completely repositioning the door.
If the latch does not catch, close the door slowly to watch how the latch bolt meets the strike plate. The latch bolt may be positioned above, below, or off to one side of the strike plate. (Scars on the strike plate may show where it is misaligned.)
It is also possible the door has shrunk because of changes in humidity, and the latch will no longer reach the strike plate. Once you have figured out whether this is the problem, try one of the methods shown here.