How to Fix Loose Door Knob? (Step-By-Step Tutorial)

Introduction

Like many things in your home, doorknobs eventually break and need to be replaced. This can happen in a few ways, but the most common is failure of the spring inside the latch mechanism. When this spring breaks, the latch can no longer engage with the strike plate and keep the door closed. If one of your doors has this issue and you’re wondering how to change a doorknob, read this step-by-step guide and learn the whole process.

Entire Lock Cylinder Turns

A cylinder turns when the setscrew(s) meant to hold it in place become loose or broken.

Mortise lockset: Remove the door knob’s faceplate (if there is one) at the door’s edge and locate the one or two cylinder setscrews. They should be in line with the center of the lock cylinder. Tighten the setscrew(s) by turning clockwise—be sure they engage the slot that runs along the edge of the cylinder (the key slot should be perfectly vertical). Replace the faceplate.

Surface-mounted rim lock: Unscrew and remove the cover (called a “case”). Tighten the cylinder setscrews. Replace the case.

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Extended Tips on how to tighten a door knob

Below are additional recommendations for door lock maintenance and other smart things you can do to make this project a success:

Lubricate your lockset

Now that you have disassembled the knob system, this is a good time to lubricate the inner parts including the spindle, screws, and backplate. Spray a tiny amount of silicone-based lubricant to keep rust away and prolong the life of your door lockset.

Repair the set screw using a thread locker

Sometimes, the set screw might come loose again, a short time after tightening it, causing the knob to spin on the spindle. If this is the case, it is likely that the threads on the setscrew have lost their grip and are unable to keep the knob firmly secured to the spindle.

To resolve this, try applying a medium strength thread locker on the setscrew. The thread locker will increase the setscrew’s grip, ensuring that the knob firmly attaches to the spindle and is not wobbly. You can buy a tube of thread locker from your local hardware store.

When applying the thread locker to the setscrew, the tip of the thread locker should not touch the setscrew.

Replace the screws where possible

As you have seen, loose screws are usually the cause of a wobbly doorknob. Rust and age can break or wear out the screws, requiring them to be replaced.

Inspect the mounting screws and setscrew—if they are lost or damaged, your best bet is to replace them. For a lost or damaged setscrew, remove the knob and take it to the hardware store to buy the right fit replacement. If the mounting screws are broken or worn out bring one of them to the store to buy the right size.

Warnings

  • Make sure that the door is open while you replace the doorknob or you may lock yourself out.

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Check the Rotating Lugs

If your latch seems to be working fine after troubleshooting, there is one more problem to check. Your tabular latch should have two lugs on either side where the spindle goes through. These lugs ensure that the follower operates correctly. There are chances that the lugs are blocked with an object and need fixing.

If the borehole is too small when the tubular latch was installed, it could obstruct lugs. If that is the case, then you need to bore a wider hole on the door. Typically, this scenario leads to broken springs and other latch components, so you may need to replace the tubular latch.

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Pull the handle and rosette off of one side of the door to expose the barrel and spring mechanism. Spray the mechanism with spray lubricant while you operate the barrel with the other handle. The spring should loosen enough to allow the barrel to retract.

Popular Types of Door Knobs

Fixing the doorknob or handle will depend on its design and how it’s secured to the door and spindle.

Exposed Set-Screw Doorknob

Using exposed set-screws to secure the handle to a threaded spindle is the most common and oldest way of attaching the doorknob. Older buildings usually have this type of doorknob as well as newer door hardware. It’s fairly easy to tighten up a loose doorknob that has exposed set-screws. You are able to see how the knob is secured to the spindle and how the entire assembly secures to the door.

Hidden Screw Doorknob

The hidden screw doorknob is a newer screwless fastening method. It involves securing the knob to the spindle and attaching the assembly to the door using hidden screws. A device referred to as detent is used in screwless doorknobs for attaching the doorknob to an unthreaded spindle. The screws are hidden and located underneath a cosmetic face plate.

Diagram showing the parts of an interior door knob
Diagram showing the parts of an interior door knob lock, including the knob, rose, bolt, latch assembly, shank and lock button.

Tools required for fixing door knobs and handles

No matter what type of door handle you’re working with, a loose knob can typically be fixed with a simple tightening of the inner screws.

Here’s what you need to fix a loose door knob:

  • Screwdriver – that’s compatible with your handle
  • Small flathead screwdriver (or straightened paperclip depending on the type of handle)
  • Rag for wiping away any residue
  • Loctite Threadlocker Blue 242

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Tighten the screw, using the appropriate flathead screwdriver or hex wrench. That should restore the operation of the knob. If the knob is old, the screw may be stripped or stuck. Pull off the handle and spray lubricant onto the screw to get it to turn more easily. Replace the handle and tighten the screw.

Door Knob Is Loose

Door knobs may become loose over time. Methods of tightening them depend upon the type of lock. You can tighten a simple interior mortise lockset like the one shown at left as follows:

1) Loosen the setscrew on the door knob’s shank.

2) Hold the door knob on the other side of the door, and turn the loose door knob clockwise until it fits snugly. Then tighten the screw until you feel it resting against the flat side of the spindle. The knob should turn freely.

3) If this does not help, remove the door knob and check the spindle; if the spindle is worn, it must be replaced. If the whole lockset is worn, it is best to replace it entirely.

Conclusion

There are many causes of a doorknob failing to turn. If they have remained idle for several weeks or months, they could rust from inside. When this happens, they won’t turn and need fixing.

Before you start correcting, you need to find where the problem lies. A graphite lubricant and slight jiggling could solve the problem.

Most homeowners tend to replace stuck doorknobs before they know where the problem is. However, you can avoid such unnecessary expenses if the problem is minor and only takes a few minutes to fix.

We hope that this article helps you fix your doorknob. If you need to replace some components of your doorknob, you may have to visit the nearest store or order online.

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