Home Improvement

Door Latch Not Catching? Here’s How to Fix A Door That Won’t Close

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Picture this: It’s a typical day, and you’re going about your business at home when, suddenly, you find that your door just won’t close. Frustration sets in as you try to push, pull, and maybe even give it a gentle kick, but the stubborn door remains ajar.

In the grand scheme of things, a door may seem like a simple element of your living space, but it plays a crucial role in providing security and privacy. So, when that latch does break down, it’s not just a minor inconvenience; it’s a potential breach in your fortress of solitude.

A door latch not catching happens to everybody, so fear not. In this post, you will go through the steps to reclaim control over your door, so stick around, and let’s find out how to fix a door that won’t close!

How does a door latch mechanism work?

First, let’s learn how your door lock should operate when it’s in working condition. At its core, a door latch is a mechanism designed to keep a door securely closed. It consists of a latch bolt and a strike plate. The latch bolt is the moving part that extends from the door into the door frame, engaging with the strike plate to keep the door shut.

With this mechanism, manufacturers have come up with different types of latches:

  • Spring latch – A spring-loaded latch bolt that retracts when the door is closed and extends when the door is opened. The spring mechanism allows the latch to automatically retract upon closing;
  • Deadlatch – Similar to a spring latch but with an added feature – it can’t be easily manipulated with a credit card or similar tool from the outside. With this feature, the latch resists tampering, making it more secure compared to a standard spring latch;
  • Mortice latch – Found in mortice locksets, this latch is more intricate, operating within a mortice pocket in the door. Mortice latches are part of a more comprehensive lockset, often providing enhanced security features;
  • Tubular latch – Utilizes a round bolt that fits into a rounded opening in the strike plate. Tubular latches are commonly used in cylindrical locksets and are known for their simplicity and ease of installation;
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Why is the door latch no longer catching and how to fix it?

Several reasons could be behind why your door is not latching, and here are the most common ones. These happen to all mechanisms; however, the severity and frequency of these issues can vary based on factors such as latch type, quality of materials, and maintenance practices.

Misalignment issues

This happens when your door latch is not catching the strike plate due to a misalignment between the strike plate and bolt.

How to fix: You need to adjust the hinge screws or reposition the strike plates. Here’s how to achieve that:

  1. Loosen the strike plate screws – Grab your trusty screwdriver and gently loosen the screws securing the strike plate. Don’t remove them completely; just give them a bit of breathing room;
  2. Reposition the strike plate – With the screws loosened, nudge the strike plate slightly until it aligns perfectly with the latch bolt. Take your time to ensure it’s in the optimal position;
  3. Tighten the screws – Once the strike plate is in place, tighten the screws snugly. This ensures a secure fit and prevents future misalignment issues.

Double-check for any visible gaps between the latch bolt and the strike plate after adjustment. Also, test the door’s closing and opening multiple times to ensure the latch engages seamlessly.

No more lockouts or lock-ins!

24/7 reliable locksmith assistance.

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No more lockouts or lock-ins!

24/7 reliable locksmith assistance.

Learn more

Component wear-and-tear

Worn-out locks and latches can either result in the door latch not coming out or the door latch not springing back.

How to fix: You need to replace the faulty hardware. This is how to proceed:

  • Inspect for wear – Carefully examine the latch bolt, strike plate, and other components for visible signs of wear, such as scratches or deformation;
  • Consider replacement – If wear is significant, consider replacing the worn-out components with new, compatible hardware. If it’s not that bad, maybe a slight adjustment will suffice.

When to consider replacing parts and when is adjusting the existing hardware enough?

If the wear is so significant that you can easily see the damage on different components, then you’re better off with replacement components. On the other hand, if you can’t see any damage, then it’s minor wear. Lubrication and adjustments are the way to go in this case.

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Door latch sticking

When your door latch decides to stick, it can be a real head-scratcher as to why. Fortunately, there is a solution.

How to fix: You need to learn some proper lubrication techniques. Starting with understanding the difference between the various types of lubricants and how to apply them correctly. More on that below.

  1. Choose the right lubricant – Depending on what kind of lock you have and where the door is located, you have the following options to choose from:
    • Graphite powder – It is a dry lubricant that reduces friction between moving parts. It is excellent for metal-on-metal contact. This makes it ideal for metal doors and hinges. Graphite powder is particularly effective in dry environments;
    • WD-40 – It is a versatile lubricant known for its penetrating and water-displacing capabilities. It also serves as a cleaner and rust inhibitor. WD-40 is suitable for various materials, including metal and plastic. It’s very effective in preventing rust, making it suitable for doors exposed to moisture;
    • Silicone-based lubricants – These are known for their versatility and longevity. They provide a protective coating against moisture and are resistant to extreme temperatures. They are suitable for a wide range of materials, including metal, plastic, and rubber. Silicone lubricants are ideal for doors exposed to varying weather conditions.
  2. Apply lubricant to moving parts – Precision is key when applying the lubricant. Focus on the moving parts of the latch mechanism, such as hinges, pivot points, and the latch bolt. Ensure a targeted application to maximise the lubricant’s effectiveness. Also, a little lube goes a long way, so don’t overdo it;
  3. Operate the door – Open and close the door multiple times so the product can penetrate into the intricate components of the latch mechanism. This action promotes seamless movement and guarantees the the lubricant will last for a long time.
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Door latch not retracting fully

If your front door latch is not retracting or if the door latch is not retracting enough, you need to check for obstructions.

How to fix: You need to either remove something that’s in the way or replace a component.

  • Carry out a thorough examination – Carefully scrutinise the latch mechanism for any signs of obstruction or damage;
  • Identify problems – Look out for debris, misalignments, or wear and tear that might be preventing the latch from retracting fully.
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Door latch is still not catching? It’s time to call a professional

If the door latch is still not catching after all your efforts, then it’s time to call a professional. At Fantastic Services, we take pride in being your reliable locksmith solution in London.

The locksmiths we work with are highly qualified, insured, and background-checked professionals with extensive training and experience. Whether it’s an emergency lockout, a faulty latch, or a security upgrade, we’re here to provide top-notch services promptly and efficiently.

Why choose a professional locksmith in London?

  • Expert diagnosis – The professionals conduct a thorough inspection to diagnose the root cause of the latch issue accurately;
  • Precision solutions – With knowledge and experience, we provide precise adjustments or replacements to ensure your door latch functions seamlessly;
  • Security assurance – A professional touch ensures that your security is not compromised. We prioritise your safety and privacy;
  • Time and cost efficiency – Save yourself the hassle of DIY attempts. Professional locksmiths efficiently resolve issues, saving you time and potential additional expenses.

Latch trouble? Fantastic’s got the key!

Ready to secure your property? Book with a Fantastic locksmith now!

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Takeaways

  • A malfunctioning door latch is a common issue that can disrupt your daily life, but solutions are available;
  • Address misalignment by adjusting hinge screws or repositioning strike plates;
  • Choose the right lubricant based on the door material and location;
  • Inspect for wear, consider replacement if significant, or opt for lubrication and adjustments for minor wear.
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