How To Fix A Door That Won't Latch


If you have an entry door that won't lock, it usually signifies a problem with the latch and not the lock mechanism. A door latch can get knocked out of alignment from constant slamming, damp weather, or house settling.  

Door latches only slightly out of misalignment won't latch. In many cases, you should be able to realign the lock without replacement by following these tips

Prepare to Fix the Latch

To fix the latch not closing, gather: 

  • work gloves
  • index card or heavy paper
  • Philips screwdriver
  • hammer
  • chisel
  • metal file
  • lubricant
  • epoxy wood putty

Sometimes, loose hinges cause the latch to fail. Raise the door, and use the screwdriver to tighten hinges. If the hinges are stripped, you will need to drill holes for new ones..

Check the Gap

Close the door, and check the gap between the frame on the latch side and the door. Look for the wider gap on the top or bottom, and detach the screws. 

Trim heavy paper or an index card to slide between the hinge and the surface, and tighten the hinges, so they cut through the paper. Add another piece of card or paper, if the door still doesn't close.

Adjust the Strike Plate

Check for loose screws on the strike plate. If the plate screws are loose, attempt to tighten the screws, and try the door. If the latch seems tight, spray it with lubricant, let it sit, and try to remove the screws again.

Shut the door to determine where the latch catches on the strike plate on the door, which should be indicated with marks. If the strike is off by an eighth-inch or less, set the tip of a flat-blade screwdriver in the hole, and gently tap the strike plate with a hammer until it aligns with the latch. You may need to bend the flange on the plate, so the door won't rattle. 

If the hole needs to be file more than an eighth-inch, detach the screws from the strike plate. Use the file to make the marks on the door larger to fit the latch

Move the Strike Plate

When all else fails, you will need to move the latch. Draw an outline for the strike plate where the latch catches on the doorjamb. Cut the mortise with the chisel and hammer, and drill new screw holes. 

Mix the epoxy filler according to directions, and spread it over the old screw holes, using a putty knife. Let it cure, then reattach the plate. Visit a site like for more help.


1 April 2018

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