Broken doorknob

One day my front door suddenly wouldn't open. I can unlock the knob and it turns, but the latch doesn't retract. I took off the doorknob, and I can see that the spindle pushes in the thing it's supposed to when it turns, but it has absolutely no effect on the latch. I never had any warning of this problem. The knob worked fine before.
I can't figure out any way to get the latch to retract. There's no way to push something against it from the outside, and I can't get anything around it from the inside. The best option I can think of is to remove the door from the hinges (not an easy or attractive option for me).
Is there a simpler way?
Reb
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especially if you just had a weather change. I'd squirt a little silicone in there and see if it frees things up. Remember that when things get stuck, it sometimes helps to push them the wrong direction- stick a screwdriver blade in the side you didn't push on, and tried to get the striker or bolt to go deeper, then reverse direction.
There is ALWAYS a way to get stuff apart, if putting it back together isn't a concern. You could always attack the shell of the striker assembly with a sharp drill, and chew enough away that you can drill a hole in the bolt to stick something in and apply sideways force to. Unless your door is very strange, new locksets or deadbolts aren't that expensive.
aem sends....
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On Sun, 30 Oct 2005 16:49:40 -0700, "Reb"

Remove the screws from the lock on the inside of the door. Remove the lock. Then replace it with a new one. For what they cost, they are not worth fixing and often cant be fixed anyhow.
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I did remove the screws and the knobs. I have removed every screw I have access to. But I can't see any way of removing the rest of the lock without having access to the edge of the door to remove the screws there and pull the rest of the lock out that way. The assembly the holds the latch mechanism is recessed back a little ways in the edge of the hole, opposite the edge of the door. If I try to just pound it out, it's going to rip up the wood. I don't care about the lock (obviously I need a new one), but I'd rather not destroy the door.
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I think my only option really is going to be removing the door from the hinges. I managed to knock out the pins (man, that bottom one is a bear to get to), but even with the pins out, the door won't budge. I threw myself against the door from the outside, but to no avail. And then I'm thinking, wow, if it's this hard to get off the hinges, I bet it's really tricky getting it back ON the hinges.
I hate to admit defeat and call in a male from the family to help me with this, but I guess it's not a good idea to remove my front door when I'm not sure I can get it back up.
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Sounds like your door swelled up or the frame shrunk, binding the door and lock. Once you get it open, shave the rubbing part of the door with a plane. Good luck.
Stretch
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Problem solved!
I ended up having my nephew work on it. He was able to retract the latch using a flat blade screwdriver and a knife between the door and the striker plate. He moved the latch a tiny bit at a time using the screwdriver while the knife held the latch in place to keep it from snapping back each time he lifted the screwdriver. It only took him a few seconds, and he managed to do it without damaging the door, the frame, or even the striker plate. He pointed out that he got lots of practice as a kid, sneaking into my (locked) bedroom to snoop around when I was at school. All's well that ends well, I suppose. :)

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When you replace it, use a real brass (not colored steel) doorknob, it has antibacterial properties.-Jitney
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