Tip & How-To about Hardware & Accessories

How to fix an interior door that won't latch

Do you have a door that you have to lift up or push down or close very hard before it will latch? I have dealt with this problem many times.

Houses often settle over time. This can shift walls and door jambs, causing misalignment. Or the hinges wear down a bit causing some sag. Or sometimes the problem is just that the door or the door jamb has warped a bit. I'll cover the fixes in order from simplest to more complex.
Before doing any surgery, start with the obvious. Are the screws in the hinges tight? If the top ones are loose, then the door will sag. Usually you can just tighten them up. But sometimes the screw holes are stripped. (One side of the hinge is screwed to the door, the other side is screwed to the “door jamb”). If the screw holes in the door or the door jamb are stripped, you can try stuffing a couple of tooth picks or little metal strips in the hole. If that doesn’t work on the door jamb side get some 3 inch screws (of about the same diameter as the originals). The long screws will go through the jamb and into the 2x4 in the wall just beyond the door jamb. Be careful you don't over-tighten the long screws so much that you distort the door jamb.

OK, now the hinges are OK, but suppose the door still doesn't latch right. On the opposite side of the door frame (where the hinges are not), there is a little metal plate called a strike-plate. It has a hole in it that the plunger from the door is supposed to fit into. (The plunger is the thumb-sized spring-loaded tab that sticks out from the edge of the the door and retracts when you turn the door-knob.) The plunger is not aligned correctly with the hole in the strike plate. It is usually the case that the hole in the strike plate is too high or too low. Or it can be the case that the door doesn't quite close far enough for the plunger to reach the hole. Get down on your knees and look closely at the position of the plunger relative to the hole in the strike plate as you slowly open and close the door. (Don't get a black-eye when another member of your household tries to enter the room!)

If the misalignment is not very great, mark the strike plate with a sharpie to indicate where the hole needs to be enlarged. Remove the two screws holding the strike plate, and remove the strike plate. Use some tape on the door to hold the plunger in temporarily - this will prevent damage to your door jamb while the strike plate is removed. Hold the strike plate in a vise and enlarge the hole with a file. If you don't have a vise or an appropriate file, find someone who does to help you. Put the strike plate back on, and you should be in business.

If the amount you would have to enlarge the hole is so great that to do so would obliterate one of the screw holes in the strike plate, then you will need to move the strike plate instead of enlarging the hole. You don't want to move the strike plate unless you have too. If you try to move it less than about 1/4 inch you will have trouble getting the screws to grab on in new holes instead of the old holes. Before you commit to moving the strike plate, remove it and hold it in place where you would like to be. If you have wood where the screws need to go, then mark and drill new holes for the screws. You will need to use a chisel to remove a bit of the jamb so that the strike plate can sit flush. But before you start to chisel, put the strike plate in place temporarily with the screws. Now use a sharp knife to cut the outline of the strike plate. Remove the strike plate and then use a sharp chisel to carefully cut the depression (it’s called a mortise) that you need. You may also need to enlarge the clearance hole in the door jamb (for the plunger).

If area of the door jamb where the strikeplate goes is just in too sorry shape to fix it, then you need to start over with a fresh wood surface for the strike plate. This can be repaired with the aid of a router. You will need to contrive a fixture so that you can guide a router to cut out a nice neat rectangle ½ inch deep out of the door jamb where the strike plate was. This rectangle should be about 3 inches longer than the strike plate. You will probably have to remove some other trim. After cutting out the rectangle, cut a piece of ¾ wood to fit the rectangle and glue it in place. After the glue dries, plane it down flush with the jamb and fit the strike plate where you need it.

If you would like more detailed info on this last method using a router, please add comments and I’ll write another tip.

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can not open the door in microwave the release button springs seem to not working can that be fixed. Have opened the release button but cannot see the problem

Do not pry the door open since there is an easier remedy which will lead you in the direction that you need to fix your problem. Take the cover off after you disconnect the power to it. Once you have taken the cover off (only a few screws) you will be able to see the two latches that hold the door closed and the link that opens both of them. You can just lift both latches at the same time and it will open. After you have done that take a good look and press in on the open door button and you will see where you have the problem of the door hanging. That button should push a linkage that pushes up on both latches at once to open the door. It is spring loaded so that it comes back down so that when you close the door it will hold the door close.You need to take the cover off the microwave so that you can pull both of the latches that hold the door closed up. When you push the button in it engages a linkage that pushes both taches up at the same time to open the door. It is springloaded and will come back down during normal operation to hold the door closed when you close it again. That area is where your problem is. By looking at what happens when you press the open door button you should be able to readily see where the problem lies in that linkage

Feb 12, 2011 | Sharp R-1610 Microwave Oven

3 Answers

Driver side door is frozen open with lock closed. Try to close door and it bounces back. Unlocking with key or with auto-lock does nothing. Key turns, lock button goes up and down, but mechanism does not open. It is currently barely below freezing level.

Give the locking "jaws" a good dose of WD-40 and start with a pair of pliers ans working the door handle get the "jaws" moving and work it a lot while keep dousing it with the lubricant. Worst case scenario would be that the spring that opens the jaws is broken and will need replaced. Please rate this answer, thanks.

Feb 06, 2011 | Ford Taurus Cars & Trucks

1 Answer

Its cold and the door was frozen stuck. But after unlocking it, I pried it open and when I got in the drivers seat to close the door. The latch is stuck in the down position and the door wont close or latch shut.

spray the latch catch with oil or silicone to loosen the latch mechanism than stick something [a screwdriver/ pen ] that u can use to push the catch upward to open push on catch while lifting handle if catch falls back either latch spring still frozen or latch spring broken and needs replacement

Jan 11, 2011 | GMC Yukon XL Cars & Trucks

2 Answers

when i close the door on my 95 chevy corsica it doesnt close. it just bounces back. please help im a girl and my parents dont know so use small simple words please.

I think what has happened is that the door latch (the one in the door) has somehow closed and won't let the door shut normally.
Here's how it works. The door latch consists of two major parts. One is the short, round metal tube thing that is attached to the car body about halfway up where the door shuts. Inside the door there is a latch in a slot that lines up with round metal tube thing when you shut the door. I think what has happened is the latch has closed, not allowing the door latch to slide over the metal tube thing and close completely. If you look at the latch in the door slot you'll (hopefully) see what I mean. Now how to fix it.
You'll need a medium to large screwdriver and maybe some help from a friend. First, lift the outside door handle like you are going to open the door. Hold it up. Then, with the screwdriver, push the latch in the door slot UPWARD until it clicks and latches.
It is difficult to put this in words but it usually is an easy fix. No damage done to your car (unless you REALLY slammed the door hard numerous times..).
Please re-post with any questions.

Mar 01, 2010 | 1995 Chevrolet Corsica

1 Answer

rear door lock is stuck, cannot close door 1993 jeep larado

you probably nee d a new door latch assembly; inside the door, take alot of wd40, lube the door latch were it closes against striker pin, to free the movable part of the latch; push in on the door handle (like your opening the door), at the same time use a pointy screwdriver awl or flat blade scredriver and push the latch up and out of the locked position, its the movable part in the door latch, hopefully its not bent and will not move. also sometimes the door hinges wear out and the latch striker does not line up with the door latch pin, see if they line up if they do not close the door while lifting it at the same time. I hope this helps you

Sep 17, 2009 | 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee

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