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Door wont latch!

Its the simple things. A cup of coffee in the morning to get you out the door, your keys where you left them last night and let’s get this day started! …. Why wont the door close when I pull it shut!!???

I told you it was simple, but boy is that frustrating. It has been going on for some time, getting worse and worse, but today you must lift the door to get it to latch. Time to put down the coffee and the keys and get out some tools and fix this. Or you can lift the door a few more days and wait till Saturday!

Ok, so today is the day you are going to fix the latch. What needs to happen? Let me show you how to find out and then how to fix many doors that will not latch.

If like the example described you find that helping the door by pulling up on the handle is the temporary solution, you can check for another telltale sign. The wear pattern on the strike plate.

How A Home And Garden Handyman determines where the latch is wearing the strike plate on a door that wont latch.

See how the lines run to the very bottom of the opening? The strike plate is higher than the latch needs it to be. This is due to a little sagging of the door. They all do it. We all do it. Mother Nature is working against us. Time and Gravity are the culprits. Too, you can check the hinges to see if the screws are loose. That is an easy fix. But more than likely we will need to lower the strike plate by about a quarter of an inch. So follow the pictures.

A Home And Garden Handyman, marking where the latch wants to hit the strike plate on the door jamb.

Mark where the bottom of the latch is striking and then note how far the strike plate needs to come down to allow that to fit in the hole. Take the plate out, turn it over and trace that line. Now follow that line with a razor about 1/8 of an inch deep to score the edge of the expanded recess.

Chiseling out a recess for the new location of the strike plate by A Home And Garden Handyman

With a chisel, trim out the profile of the lowered strike plate to let it fit in its new home. Simply lay it flat in the old recess and tap it till you hit your scored mark. Now put the strike plate back right side out and see how far you need to extend the cavity for the strike plate to sit in that and allow the latch to go home. If you lowered the plate a quarter of an inch it will be the same for the cavity. Again use the chisel and a few taps of a hammer to lower that hole.

Now lets fill the old screw holes. Simply sliver off a scrap piece of pine or fir and taper it to just a little larger than the screw you removed. It will look a little like a golf t.

Scoring a break off line on a wooden plug to fill old screw holes while A Home And Garden Handyman moves a door strike plate.

Tap that into the hole gently, score it with your knife at the jamb surface and pull it toward your nick snapping it off. You might notice the last person to work on this door had done the same thing when they brought the original latch out about an 3/16th of an inch.

A set of screw hole plugs, old and new shown by A Home And Garden Handyman relocating a door latch.

Their plugs are still there, right next to the ones I made. Now place the strike plate in place in its new recess and using a self-centering drill bit, drill pilot holes for the screws and screw it back onto the jamb.

Using a self centering drill bit to drill pilot holes for a relocated door latch by A Home And Garden Handyman

Now the door latch finds the hole and closes properly again without lifting or help! You can certainly do this job yourself, but if you lack the time, tools, inclination or interest, you can have A Home And Garden Handyman, LLC do it for you.

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