Troubleshooting a Faulty Door Knob Latch

A hand opening a door knob with keys in it.

One of the things that can come out of adjustment after several years is your door knob. After the house settles, the door has been used thousands of times, or the hinges are just giving out, the door knob latch can begin to have problems. This can be in the form of the door not closing, the door knob not working, or the lock not engaging the strike plate. If you are noticing that there are some problems with the door knob, here are some tips to help you in troubleshooting and repairing.

Door Doesn't Shut

A very common problem that is associated with door knobs is that they do not latch properly. When this happens the door does not shut and opens up at any time. You can make sure that it is the latch by looking at the strike plate and noticing if the tongue sets in the strike plate correctly. If not, then you can fix this with a few different remedies.

The easiest fix is to simply move the strike plate into a position where it will catch the door latch. You will need to remove some more material, but a Dremel, or a small chisel, will work well. Another way to fix this problem is to simply enlarge the opening without moving the strike plate. You can do this with a rotary tool and a carbide tip.

Door Gets Stuck

Another problem with many door knobs, latches, and even hinges is that the door itself will get stuck and close, or open hard. One of the problems that causes this is that the hinges are loose or the house has settled from the freezing and thawing of the ground. You can fix this problem by relocating the hinges, or using longer screws.

Loose Door Knob

When you use your door a lot you will begin to notice a little bit of play in the door knob. This problem is easily fixed with a screwdriver. Locate the two screws that hold the door knob together and tighten them. This will keep the door knob from moving around and secure to the door.

Latch Does Not Move

One common problem that is associated with door knobs is that the latch will seem to be stuck or not move easily. This can cause the latch to stay inside the door whenever the door knob is turned. There are two remedies for this that will help get the latch moving again.

If the latch seems to be stuck then it can be a matter of it being "gummed" up with dirt, grease, grime, and other debris. Take the door knob apart and lean the latch mechanism with clean water. Rinse it off and dry it well before installing it back into the door. A coating of oil, or silicone, will also help.

If the latch still sticks after you put it back, chances are you have the door knob attached too tight onto the door. This will cause pressure that will make the latch stick while it is inside the door frame.