Do I need a carpenter, a locksmith, or a door company?

House Repair Talk

Help Support House Repair Talk:

Joined
Oct 20, 2007
Messages
7
Reaction score
2
The door from our kitchen to our deck no longer stays shut. The door, like the house, is 30 years old. I've demonstrated the problem in this 40-second video.
I can't fix it myself. We don't use the upper lock--the deadbolt lock--because we have no idea what's become of the key(s).
My wife says, "Call a locksmith."
Should I
  • call a locksmith?
  • call a carpenter to true up the framing?
  • have a door specialist install a new door and new locks?
Meanwhile, I've ordered a good door brace to bar outsiders from entering.
 

bud16415

Fixer Upper
Staff member
Admin
Moderator
Joined
Feb 5, 2013
Messages
6,984
Reaction score
2,750
Location
Erie, PA
I would call a lock guy. They can re-key the dead bolt and ether adjust the striker plate or sell you a new lower knob assembly.



The rest of the door looks ok to me.
 

havasu

Administrator
Staff member
Admin
Moderator
Joined
May 20, 2010
Messages
4,602
Reaction score
536
Is that new weatherstripping? If so, try a thinner size. The problem is your striker plate is now too deep to catch the edge of the lock. Either pill out your striker plate an 1/8", or sometimes a punch and chisel will move it after loosening the 2 screws. Does your deadbolt still latch? If so, sometimes latching the deadbolt for a week or so will compress the weatherstripping so that the door handle will work with a bit of time.
 

Eddie_T

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2015
Messages
1,936
Reaction score
1,430
I had the same experience and filed the edge of the striker until the latch would seat. From the marks on the striker it appears that the problem may just be at the lower corner. Can you lift the door with the handle enough to get it to latch? The video worked OK for me.

If you remove the deadbolt and take it into Lowe's I think you can get them to make keys for it.
 

ChrisAtTech

Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2020
Messages
15
Reaction score
7
Location
Ohio
You could also try a local handyman. I think they could fix the latching problem as easily as a locksmith. They could also replace the deadbolt, which may be cheaper than re-keying it. I'd call around and get a general idea of the price of re-keying and hourly rates of locksmith vs. handyman then decide from there.
 

Ron Van

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2019
Messages
158
Reaction score
166
Location
Alabama – Left California 2020
This is a very common DIY repair. The most important observation was not part of your video which is the space around your door compared to the frame showing how much your house has settled over the years. My guess is that this is normal settling and there is no major gap around the door ie. the door is still sealing and there's no air coming in. You probably just need to move the striker plate (the part attached to the door jam) down approximately 3/16". You need to put your DIY hat on and figure out how you're going to do that. It will require cutting a new recessed area for the plate to sit in the jam which could be as easy as using a utility knife to cut the wood. You also may need a longer screw in the top hole of the striker plate if that hole gets too close to the old hole in the jam. This repair could be done in 15 minutes if you get your, "Get er Done" mode on.
 
Joined
Dec 14, 2012
Messages
317
Reaction score
77
Location
Central Illinois
The other thing to check is the screws in the upper hinge. I have seen those loosen enough to allow the door to sag just slightly. That will cause the door bolt to just miss the hole in the latch plate as it appears yours is doing. Just another thing to check.
A little tweek here and another one there should fix your issue.
 
Joined
Oct 20, 2007
Messages
7
Reaction score
2
You guys are great! You all make good points. If I only wanted get the lower lock to engage, I'd probably try to fix it myself, using the guidance offered above by @Ron Van and others. But I've just scheduled a locksmith to come 6 days from now to rekey or replace the deadbolt lock, too.
 

ekrig

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2020
Messages
110
Reaction score
88
Location
NJ
I know that you said that you couldn't fix it yourself but fixing the deadbolt lock is as easy as buying a new one from your local home supply store for ~$20 and takes no more than 10min to replace. Looking closely you can see how much the striker plate might need to move. If it is <1/16" then loosening the screws, a gentle tap in the direction it needs to go, and retightening may be all that is needed.
 

bud16415

Fixer Upper
Staff member
Admin
Moderator
Joined
Feb 5, 2013
Messages
6,984
Reaction score
2,750
Location
Erie, PA
Just another thought and a reason I recommended the locksmith when answering before. It is nice to have your locks keyed for the same key. Nothing worse than having a half dozen similar looking keys on the key ring and trying to find the correct one.

Deadbolts like you have require a key from inside also and in a emergency you want to know you can get the door open quick.
 

Eddie_T

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2015
Messages
1,936
Reaction score
1,430
I took the single key approach so only two keys on my keychain, house and car. I keep an extra key near the utility room deadbolt so I can quickly exit. The others have the little handle.
 

EricK

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 12, 2018
Messages
75
Reaction score
34
Fire guy has it right. I work as a handyman. This is a common issue. See the markings from your latch on the strike plate? They are a little low. Here's what happens. The door sags a little bit. Then the latch and the deadbolt hit the opening a little on the low side. I bet when you close your door and look at the reveal on the right hand side ( from the inside of your house as the video shows ) you have a bigger gap on top than on the bottom. Easy fix. Remove a short screw from your top hinge in the door frame. Remove one closer to the outside. Replace it with a 3-in long screw. That screw will go through the trim and into the framework pulling the door straight again. That one screw will probably fix everything. If not, try a second. Sometimes I do this fix for a customer even when they don't ask me to. I just get tired of dealing with a door that doesn't close properly. 🙂
 

Jeff Handy

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 20, 2019
Messages
992
Reaction score
377
Location
Chicago suburbs
If the door is sagging, then installing longer screws into the top hinge is a good idea.
Because the old short screws were just grabbing the door jamb, which is now sagging slightly towards the door.
Longer screws can go right through the jamb, and can engage the sturdy framing behind the jamb, and pull the jamb a little closer against it.
As long as it will not cause binding against the top of the frame.
And sometimes this can also cause the top hinge to become “hinge bound” where the hinge leaves close too tightly onto each other.
You can also cut and install some thin cardboard shims under the lower hinges.
Usually two on the bottom hinge, and one under the middle hinge.
They go under the hinge leaf that is recessed into the door jamb.
These shims will push the bottom hinge side of the door away from the hinge side.
This shift will lift the latch side of the door.
This slight lift will often raise the latch into a good position again.
 

Ron Van

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2019
Messages
158
Reaction score
166
Location
Alabama – Left California 2020
You can also cut and install some thin cardboard shims under the lower hinges.
Usually two on the bottom hinge, and one under the middle hinge.
They go under the hinge leaf that is recessed into the door jamb.
These shims will push the bottom hinge side of the door away from the hinge side.
This shift will lift the latch side of the door.
This slight lift will often raise the latch into a good position again.
I did this to a door with Sheetrock shims installed behind the lower hinge. It was sn interior door so it only had two hinges. The sheet rock shims work great. The added benefit was it fixed the problem with the door wanting to shut be itself.
 

zannej

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2014
Messages
3,291
Reaction score
1,119
I hope the locksmith gets it fixed. I have the same issue with my back door. I have to prop stuff against it to keep it from opening, but the frame is all warped and the door is falling apart so its getting replaced.
 

BuzzLOL

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2015
Messages
911
Reaction score
530
If the door is sagging, then installing longer screws into the top hinge is a good idea.
Because the old short screws were just grabbing the door jamb, which is now sagging slightly towards the door.
My front door is wide and taller than usual, solid oak, and has a large heavy quadruple strength commercial grade glass panel in it... I had to go with 4" screws in the top hinge to reach framing with enough strength to hold it up for very long...
 

Eddie_T

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2015
Messages
1,936
Reaction score
1,430
I find that cereal box cardboard makes good shims if I only have a small need.
 
Top