Door Latch Problems

By Robert Robillard on Home Repairs And Remodeling, Interior Repairs


Dealing With A door That Does Not Close or Latch

You’re trying to close a door in your house and it won’t latch.

Or you have to lift or put a shoulder into the door in order to get it to latch or lock.   Most likely you have an alignment issue at the strike or latch plate.

Hinges – Often A Culprit

A lot of times the alignment problem is caused by sagging or loose hinges, house settling or just a heavy door not installed well.

Problem Solving Steps:

  • First close the door and inspect the door reveals.  the door reveal is the space between the closed door and the door frame or jamb.
  • Look for an even spacing.  Uneven spacing may reveal settling of loose hinges.
  • Inspect the hinges knob and strike plate for loose screws.  Tighten them if loose.
  • If the door still will not latch then look at where door latch hits the strike plate you can use a mill  file to remove a little of the strike plate metal on that edge until the latch catches or reset the strike plate.
  • If you need to remove a large amount of metal or you are having trouble using the file in such a small space, remove the latch plate and place it in a vise. [See photo]
  • another method or re-aligning the strike plate is to physically remove it and re-align it to the door strike or deadbolt latch.   This repair usually involves filling the old screw holes with small pieces or wood and glue [wooden matches and tooth picks work well] prior to drilling new holes and re-installing the screws.
  • If you determine that the hinge screws are loose and will not tighten you can use fill the screw holes with new wood and glue  [wooden match or tooth picks] and re-install the screws.
  • Installing a longer screw, long enough to reach the framing, will often stop a heavy door from sagging and loosening the hinge.  Install this screw in the top jamb side, hinge.


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About the author

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor

Rob Robillard is “The Concord Carpenter” Rob is a builder, general contractor, carpenter, woodworker, and editor of Concord Carpenter and ToolBoxBuzz As a General Contractor and carpenter, Rob owns and operates Concord Carpenter LLC. A full-service remodeling and construction company. Rob is a recognized leader in home building best practices and a source for how-to information for building professionals. On this website, Rob covers all aspects of home construction, building science, home improvement, woodworking, remodeling, and some of the best product and tool reviews. Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review series - Concord Carpenter Videos where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob approaches remodeling and building construction with a pragmatic and problem-solving approach. He enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the construction and remodeling industry. He's a strong advocate for "raising the bar" in the construction trades and promoting the trades to youth. #BeAMentor #Green2Great Craftsmanship, quality, and pride guide his journey on this channel The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob

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