Repairing Door Knobs, Locks & Hardware

Expert advice on how to repair problems with stuck or frozen door locks, keys that don’t work, and latches that don’t latch.

 

Many door knob and lockset problems can be corrected before they become so serious that the lockset does not work at all. Often, a malfunctioning latch assembly or lock mechanism causes the problem. An improperly functioning latch may be the result of a poorly fitting door. The lock mechanism may not work simply because the lock is dirty or dry and needs to be lubricated with graphite (do not use any type of oil because this will gum-up the works).

 

For serious lock problems, it is usually best to call a locksmith or to replace the lock entirely. Most interior door knobs are relatively inexpensive to replace; it doesn’t really pay to have these professionally repaired unless they are special. You can buy door knobs online.

 

 

Cylindrical Lockset Diagram

Exterior latches and locksets, on the other hand, can be very pricey. If you need a pro to fix problems with a high-quality door knob or lockset, removing the hardware and taking it to a locksmith is usually far less expensive than having the come to you.

 

Door Latch Is Misaligned

If a door latch does not operate smoothly, the latch bolt on the door may not be lined up properly with the strike plate on the doorjamb. Repairs range from making minor latch adjustments to repositioning the door.

 

If the latch does not catch, close the door slowly to watch how the latch bolt meets the strike plate. The bolt may be positioned above, below, or to one side of the strike plate. (Scars on the strike plate will show where it is misaligned.) It is also possible the door has shrunk and the latch no longer reaches the strike plate. Once you have figured out the problem, try one of the methods shown here.

 

For less than a 1/8-inch misalignment of the latch bolt and strike plate, file the inside edges of the plate to enlarge the opening.

 

If the latch does not reach the strike plate, shim out the plate, or add another strike plate. If the latch still will not reach, shim out the door’s hinges. Replace the door with a wider one as a last resort.

For more than a 1/8-inch misalignment, remove the strike plate and extend the mortise higher or lower as necessary. Replace the plate, fill the gap at the top or bottom with wood putty, and refinish.

 

Doorknob Is Loose

Doorknobs may become loose over time. Methods of tightening them depend upon the type of lockset. You can tighten a simple interior mortise lockset like the one shown at left as follows:

 

1) Loosen the setscrew on the knob’s shank.

2) Hold the knob on the other side of the door, and turn the loose knob clockwise until it fits snugly. Then tighten the screw until you feel it resting against the flat side of the spindle. The knob should turn freely.

3) If this does not help, remove the knob and check the spindle; if the spindle is worn, it must be replaced. If the whole lockset is worn, it is best to replace it entirely.

 

Door Lock & Key Problems

Door latches and locks are somewhat complex pieces of hardware with several working parts that can go wrong and cause them to be unworkable or balky. For helpful do-it-yourself repair techniques for fixing common lock and latch problems, please see How to Repair Door Locks.

 

Door Key Doesn’t Work

If your door key doesn’t work right, the first and most obvious step is to be sure you’re using the right key. Once you get the door open, try the key again. If it works easily, the deadbolt isn’t engaging the strike plate properly. If it doesn’t work any easier, lubricate the lock with graphite. Then spray a little graphite onto the key and try it several times.

 

If the key turns but doesn’t unlock the lock, disassemble the lock so that you can be sure the cam or tang is properly engaged with the bolt. Replace any broken parts and reassemble the lock.

Is the lock frozen? If the key won’t go into the lock, ask yourself if the weather is cold enough for the lock to be frozen. If it is, you can heat the key and insert it gradually into the keyway. Repeat heating and inserting the key until the ice has melted. Or you can use a lock de-icer, as discussed below under Door Lock Works Slowly.

 

Is the key new? A new key that won’t go in or work properly may have rough spots that need to be filed off. To find them, hold the key over a candle to blacken it with soot and then turn it very slightly in the lock and remove it. File down any shiny areas where the soot was removed by the rough spots.

 

To continue reading, visit Repairing Door Knobs, Locks & Hardware.

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Lock maintenance: The key to autumn home security

As we move out of summer and into autumn, now is the time to ensure your home locks are all in good condition and working properly. In this blog post, we will give you jargon-free, step-by-step advice on the things you should be checking for, how to maintain the locks in your home and what to do if you need an emergency locksmith.

 

As the nights draw in and we move into the gloomier months of the year, the risk of being burgled actually rises by 63%. This is due to the obvious benefits for a thief who is working under the cover of darkness; burglars and opportunist thieves are much less likely to be spotted by neighbours or passers-by, and the properties that are empty (and therefore come with less risk to the burglar) are much easier to spot in the first place.

 

Your locks are an integral part of your home security — if your doors and windows are well-built and fitted, then they will offer some protection, but without the locks they may as well not be there at all.

 

For this reason, you should treat lock checking and maintenance as an annual task to be completed at the end of summer. This way, you can move into the colder months fully assured that your home is as secure as it can be.

 

Complete a lock inventory

Take a tour of your whole property, including any outbuildings such as garages and sheds, and compile a list of all external locks. This should include the locks present on both your doors and windows, and should also include any additional security features, such as padlocks, door chains and garage door defenders. Obviously, you’ll only have to do this once – unless you change or add locks to your home.Lock Mech

 

Once you have a comprehensive list of all external locks, you can go round one by one to check and clean them. While this may seem time-intensive, it’s actually extremely useful to have your locks on record, and that way you can tick them off as you go along, ensuring that none are overlooked.

 

Test your locks

Working through your list, check each lock for the following:

 

The lock and all attached parts (such as the handle) should be well fitted and in good condition. Look out for loose screws and dented or damaged areas. Any issues that can’t be easily remedied by yourself should be looked at by a locksmith.

Test the lock with all relevant keys to ensure it opens and closes smoothly. Watch out for keys which you have to jiggle in order to lock or unlock the mechanism. This may indicate that the key is a copy of the original. Prolonged use of a key which doesn’t quite fit properly may cause the lock mechanism to break internally after a certain amount of time. Use only the original keys where possible and any copies should always be cut from the original key, never from another copy.

When you lock and unlock the door/window, check that the locking mechanism itself doesn’t stick or make a noise. If it does, clean and lubricate the lock, as this often solves the issue. A continuation of the problem may indicate a more serious problem which will need to be looked at by a professional.

Do you have to lift, push or pull the door/window in order to align the lock? This may mean that it’s become warped or has not been installed correctly. Where the issue affects a door, this may well mean that it is no longer hung properly, in which case it may need to be re-fitted.

Make a note of how many keys you have for each lock so you can check that they’re all present and correct each year. If you know that any keys are missing, it may be worth replacing the affected locks just in case they have fallen into the wrong hands. You should make spares for any locks which only have one key and keep them in a safe and secure place.

 

Looks helpful? See more here: Lock maintenance: The key to autumn home security

Home security tips for someone with dementia

October sees the annual launch of National Home Security Month (NHSM), a nationwide initiative aimed at raising awareness of home security. Hannah Adkins, Marketing Executive for NHSM’s headline sponsor Yale, gives us her five top tips on securing the home of someone with dementia.

 

  1. Lock it up

It sounds simple, but ensure door and window security is up to scratch. Doors and windows are the primary methods for burglars to enter and exit properties with 33% simply entering through an open front door*. Even changing the basics in home security can make a big difference and upgrading your locks is easy. Locks should comply with the British Standard BS3621 and cylinders should meet the TS007 3 star standard. Look for the British Kitemark symbol.

 

  1. Discourage burglars

There are a number of measures you can install to deter a burglar from considering your property as a potential target. CCTV systems, burglar alarms and outdoor lighting not only provide added security, notifying you to an intruder, they also act as a visual deterrent. In fact, 60% of burglaries attempted on houses with alarm systems failed. As technology evolves, these systems have become more sophisticated and can aid people with dementia. For example, integrated burglar alarms and CCTV systems can now send notifications and email alerts to a users smartphone when triggered. This is ideal, as they can be sent to a relative’s device so they can check on security and their family member’s safety.

 

  1. Go key free

As seen with the alarm and CCTV systems, new and developing technology can aid those living with dementia and make life that little bit easier. Smart locks are one such security measure that is doing just that. Smart locks, such as Yale’s Keyless connected smart lock, can be unlocked using a key card, keytag, remote fob or even a smartphone when connected to a smart home system. Pin codes can be set for certain times of the day and given to carers, relatives and house help, such as cleaners to let them into the property securely without having to get up and down, answering to unknown callers or losing keys.

 

  1. Eye spy

A threat when leaving vulnerable people home alone is distraction burglaries. This involves a trick or lie to get into a property either by posing as someone of authority or keeping you at the front door while someone accesses the property through a different entry point. Investing in a digital door viewer means that you can see who is at the door without compromising your home security.

 

  1. Play it safe

To protect small valuable items, use a home safe securely bolted to the floor or wall. This way, important information cannot be lost or discarded as well as preventing thieves from stealing personal belongings.

 

For more information and advice on home security visit Home security tips for someone with dementia.