Princeton Capital Blog

Keeping Doors and Locks In Working Order

March 15th, 2013

Front door to a homeKeeping Doors and Locks In Working Order

Nothing makes the hair on your neck stand on end than a squeaky door. And have you ever been in a bathroom, and then couldn’t get the door unlocked?

Taking the time for some simple and regular maintenance will ensure these scenarios never happen to you in your own home.

And while you’re in there, give a good wipe down of the doorknob to reduce the spreading of germs.

Doorknobs Maintenance

If you notice that the doorknob is loose, you will need to tighten the screw that holds the knob to the door.  Sometimes, you will need to remove a faceplate and then tighten the screw depending upon your type of doorknob.

Replacing a doorknob is quite easy. One key to remember is never tighten the screws too tightly as it will affect how the door handle or knob work.

Lock Maintenance

You may want to invest in a special graphite lock lubricant which can be purchased from home maintenance stores, from locksmiths, or from online. It’s specifically designed to clean the dirt and crud out of the lock, so when you spray it in, have a rag ready.

If the lock has a bolt, step two is to open up the bolt, and then spray the lock lubricant around the edge of the bolt, and again, wipe up the grime.

Squeaky Hinges

WD-40 and silicon spray are actually not what you want to go for her as they’re not the best for metal on metal. You want to use graphite based or oil based lubricants. If you have any sewing machine oil around the house, use that.

A really squeaky door can be caused the the hinge pin not being straight. So if your door still squeaks after you lubricate the hinges, pull out the pin and place it on a hard, level surface to verify if it’s straight or should be replaced.

Latch Maintenance

Often, a door won’t latch because the latch itself isn’t aligned with the strike plate. A quick way to verify this is to put some masking tape on the strike plate, and some lipstick on the latch (go for a bright red and cheap lipstick).  You will then see exactly where the latch is hitting, and ending up.

If it’s too high or too low, tighten the door’s hinge screws.  From FamilyHandyman:

Tighten the hinges first.

If you find that the latch contacts the strike plate too high or too low, make sure all the door’s hinge screws are tight. If that doesn’t solve the problem, try this trick: Remove one of the screws on the jamb side of the hinge and drive in a 3-in. screw. The long screw will grab the wall framing and draw in the whole doorjamb slightly. To raise the latch, do this at the top hinge. To lower the latch, do it at the bottom hinge.

Enlarge the strike plate hole.

If long screws don’t solve the too-high or too-low problem, measure the misalignment of the lipstick marks on the strike plate. If the latch misses the strike plate hole by 1/8 in. or less, remove the strike plate and enlarge its hole with a file (Photo 2). A half-round file (sold at home centers and hardware stores) matches the curve of the latch hole.

Move the strike plate.

If the latch contacts the strike plate at the correct level but doesn’t go in far enough, or if the latch strikes more than 1/8 in. too high or too low, you’ll have to reposition the strike plate. You can move it up or down and in or out. Use a sharp chisel to enlarge the strike plate mortise (Photo 3). Then hold the strike plate in place and drill new 1/16-in. holes for the screws. Install the strike plate and fill the gap in the mortise with wood filler. Remove the strike plate to paint or finish the patch.

How often you need to clean and tighten depends upon the amount of dirt, dust, and use the door gets.  If you haven’t done anything, this weekend may be the time to do some quick maintenance.  Do you prefer knobs or handles on  your doors?

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