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Door Latch Problems


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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