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Fixing A Broken Doorknob

 

 

If you are like me, there is at least one doorknob in your house  which could be functioning better.  In my case, there are at least three knobs which have been malfunctioning as the house settles and throws off the latch/strike plate line-up.

 
Fortunately, the problem is easy to solve once I get around to it.


The first step is to diagnose the problem. Check the mechanism itself by operating it with the door ajar.  If the latch appears to bind, lubricate it with liquid graphite, which is available at your hardware store.  Stay away from machine oil for this job – it gums up latch and lock mechanisms.

 
If the knob slips when you turn it, the setscrew may need tightening.  The setscrew is the screw on the narrow spindle, or “neck” of the knob.  On older doorknobs, the setscrew may not tighten against the spindle properly because the screw has worn a groove around the spindle.  You may be able to correct this problem by replacing the original screw with a sheet metal screw that’s long enough to reach the spindle.

 
If parts of the mechanism are beyond repair, you may be able to get the replacement parts you need from your local hardware dealer or locksmith.  Usually you can match your other door hardware more easily with replacement parts than with whole new units.

 
If the moving parts function properly only when the door is ajar, you may need to adjust the strike plate on the doorjamb.  Inspect the abrasions on the strike plate – they may show that the notch in the plate is no longer mating properly with the latch.  If so, loosen the plate screws (you’ll probably need a Phillips-head screwdriver) and re-position the plate slightly.  If more than a slight adjustment is necessary, add a shim behind the plate or glue short pieces of wood doweling in the existing screw holes and mount the plate in a different location on the jamb.  Be sure to re-cut the notch in the doorjamb under the plate, if necessary.

 
When all else fails

 
In some cases the entire doorknob may have to be replaced, but if you have the right tools, this is a simple job, too.  Just follow the step-by-step directions provided by the manufacturer.  You’ll probably need a wood chisel, a hole saw or saber saw, and a power drill in addition to a Phillips-head screwdriver. 

 
Before you shop for a new doorknob, measure the thickness of your door.  Most doors measure either 1 3/8 inches or 1 ¾ inches thick and some knob units fit only one thickness.  Also, determine how large the escutcheon must be in order to cover the holes or markings left by the old unit.  You may need to buy oversize escutcheons with your knob set.  Note: Knob sets for exterior doors are called entry sets and those for interior doors are called access sets.  Be sure to choose the right type for your door.

 

                                       ~Karen Saloomey

 

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