Home Uncategorized 5 Maintenance Tips to Trouble-shoot Door Hardware Issues

5 Maintenance Tips to Trouble-shoot Door Hardware Issues

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We rush through our doors, in and out and all about. We don’t think about them until we run into an access problem. Are they wide enough to take items through? Are they secure enough? Why isn’t this key working? Why can’t I open this door? The hardware on our doors will give us subtle warning signs that they aren’t in peak condition. These signs are things like a door knob that wiggles, or the door sticks, or the key needs jiggling. When we ignore these signs, there will come a day when it is truly difficult to unlock and open the door. If we respond to the first sign of trouble, we can fix them before they become serious.

Does the door hardware work properly?

The first step is to determine if the lock functions properly. Open the door and watch the latch as you turn the knob. Does the latch move easily? Press it with your index finger to see if it will spring back into position quickly. Use the key and watch how the door hardware works. Is movement fluid? Look to see if the mortise (the hole in the door jamb) is deep enough for the latch and allows the deadbolt to fully extend. Does the key insert and turn with ease?

Quick tip: A regular cleaning routine, where you use gentle detergent and water to clear out dust, dirt, and grime will help the lock last longer. Don’t use harsh chemicals. And, do thoroughly dry any part that gets wet to avoid rust.

What if the mortise and strike plate cause the door to stick?

You may need to adjust the strike plate and/or adjust the depth of the mortise. Both can interfere with the door’s movement. If the needed change is less than an eighth of an inch, it is possible to file the strike plate and edges of the deadbolt.

If the necessary change is larger than 1/8”, it will be necessary to take the strike plate off and fill in the unused part of the mortise. Adjust the mortise by filling it in with putty and recut the mortise in the correct position. Make sure the screws on the strike plate are long enough to anchor into the door frame. If the door has shrunk over the years, then you may need to add a second strike plate over the first one to ensure that the latch catches. If adding an extra strike plate doesn’t work, you may need to shim out the strike plate and/or the hinges. Or you may need to consider simply replacing the door.

Quick tip: If it looks like your lock repair is going to be overly complicated, get help from a professional locksmith.

What do I do if the key breaks in the lock?

Find needle nose pliers and carefully use those to remove the key. If the key will not budge, you may wish to call your locksmith. An alternative to that would be to entirely remove the lock and push the key out from the other side.

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Quick tip: Use an original key to make replacement keys when needed. There are two ways to make this easy, 1) when the lock is initially installed, take the original and make copies for future use. 2) Keep an original key in a safe place and only use that original key to make copies. Regularly replace worn keys with fresh copies to avoid a key breaking in the lock.

Is the lock frozen in place?

In West Palm Beach, we are unlikely to have our locks freeze from the cold weather. So we do not have to heat our keys as our northern neighbors might do. Instead, we might have to deal with a lock that’s stuck in place due to corrosion caused by salty air or other grime from the elements.

A de-icer can clean the lock. Spray it into the key hole. Run the key in and out of the lock, turning the key back and forth. Remove the key and wipe it off. Do not use oil to clean or lubricate the lock. Dry lubricants such as Teflon or silicon work well. Look for directional nozzles on the containers.

Quick tip: Lubricate your lock once or twice a year to prevent the lock from sticking.

Is the knob loose?

When you grab the door knob, it wiggles and shakes. Check all the screws to make sure they are sufficiently tightened.

Quick tip: A simple lock can be tightened. Loosen the screw in the shaft of the lock. Hold both door knobs and turn the loose one clockwise until it tightens. Then tighten the screw on the shaft. Locks with face plates may need the screws attaching them to the door tightened.

Is the door in the correct position?

After hanging for an extended time, the door may shift. Look at the closed door, see if the space is even on all the sides including top and bottom. The space around the door should be between an eighth of an inch and quarter of an inch.

Quick tip: Make sure all the hinge screws are between 2 and 3 inches long, so that they anchor into the door frame and provide a secure stable foundation. Adjust the hinges bit by bit to make the space around the door uniform.

When you need help from a professional locksmith, please call A-1 Locksmith of the Palm Beaches, Inc At (561) 964-6114.

A1 Locksmith of the Palm Beaches, Inc. is passionate about what they do for their community and manage a blog on all things security related: https://www.a1gmtlocksmith.com/locksmith-blog/.


“5 Common Ways a Door Lock Is Broken.” 6 Negative Effects of Alternative Energy | DoItYourself.com. May 27, 2009. Accessed June 06, 2018. https://www.doityourself.com/stry/common-ways-a-door-lock-is-broken.


Campbell, Barry. “6 Keys to Proper Door Lock Maintenance.” Angieslist. December 19, 2015. Accessed June 06, 2018. https://www.angieslist.com/articles/6-keys-proper-door-lock-maintenance.htm.


“How to Repair Door Knob Locks & Hardware.” HomeTips. Accessed June 06, 2018. https://www.hometips.com/repair-fix/door-lock-latch-problems.html.


“Troubleshooting Door Lock Problems.” Home. Accessed June 06, 2018. http://www.home-repair-central.com/troubleshooting-door-lock-problems.html.



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