Door latch problem

Hey all:
Not much of a carpenter, but I can follow directions. The front door of my mom's house has always worked perfectly. But my last two visits, the darn door will not latch when I pull it shut.
If I really yank and slam it, the Kwikset thing finally sits in the door frame and holds closed, but, of course, don't want to be doing this forever.
Forgive my technical terms here, but the metal spring-loaded latch thing retracts into the door smoothly and pops back out with catching or other trouble, except for going into the "box-thing" in the door frame.
The weather hasn't been any different than any other of the dozens of years here. Anything I should start with....
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If I understand you correctly, the moving parts work ok when the door is open but it doesn't latch into the frame correctly. First make sure all screws are reasonably tight. If they are you might try loosening and moving the catch in the door frame and retightening it. It may have shifted slightly. It also may be worn and need to be replaced. Take it to the store with you if you decide to replace it. Also the weatherstrippping could be worn out and allowing the door to overclose but it does not sound like that from your description.

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I also suggest seeing if the door has come loose. It could easily just need tightening in the hinges.
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Try this simple test. Remove the strike plate, "the box thingee" from the jamb. If the door closes and the lock works properly then the strike plate just needs to be adjusted a little. Or perhaps just enlarge the metal opening just a bit with a file or dremel tool. It is common for these to get out of alignment a little bit as a house settles.
From your description it would be the inside edge of the strike plate hole that needs trimming.
Colbyt
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Thanks everyone. I'll be heading over in a bit and will check all suggestions!
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On 17 Feb 2006 08:56:02 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@mailcity.com wrote:

This isn't very likely but it happend to me. During the summer I let mail, especially newspaper like stuff, pile up by the front door, which has a mail slot. Eventually I couldn't lock the door easily, although it seemed to latch ok.
When I had my head on the floor, I noticed that the weather stripping on the bottom of the door, that is meant to go into a slot in the aluminum threshhold, had gotten twisted half way across the door.
There had been a period of time when the door didn't shut well. I thought it was mail etc. that was getting in the way, but it was this aluminmum strip, when it was twisted but not yet crushed.
It took less than ten minutes with a piece of wood and a hammer to get the twisted (now vertical) part back to being horizontal, and fitting in t hat slot again.
P&M
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snipped-for-privacy@mailcity.com wrote:

OP again. Turns out the little box "thing" (strike plate? LOL) was extremely loose. One screw wasn't holding at all....stripped out and the second screw was loose. So, I tried tightening it down, but no real luck.
I took it off completely and it now and latches fine in the "open hole in the frame." But it is really loose and moves back and forth quite a bit. So, the new plan is to go back tommorrow with longer screws and my electric drill and a grinder bit and grind a bit of steel off the strike plate thing and then try to tighten down well with the longer screws....sound reasonable?
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You will do better IMHO to take a golf tee or several toothpicks and a bit of Elmer's glue. Glue the wood in the wallowed out screw holes, reinstall the screws. If you close the holes with the golf tees you might need to drill a lead hole for the screw. ______________________________ Keep the whole world singing . . . . DanG (remove the sevens) snipped-for-privacy@7cox.net

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Instead of that get some tooth picks and elmers wood glue. Fill up the worn out holes and let it harden overnight. Then put in the old screws exactly where they were in the fixed holes.

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On Sat, 18 Feb 2006 21:51:23 GMT, "Art"

I agree, but I'd still use longer screws. About 2 inches. You probably got the 3/4" ones that came with the lock. It's more secure if you go into the studs. Here's a trick I heard but never tried because I dont wear lipstick (sorry guys). Put lipstick on the striker (not the plate, the thing that sticks out the door. Close the door and see if any lipstick is visible on the top or bottom of the striker plate. If it does, the striker plate is off and needs to be raised or lowered. So, when you get there ask your mom for some lipstick, and if she asks why, tell her you're trying something new. (that ought to get her shook up).
They do make oversized striker plates. The hole is longer, and the whole plate is longer. When the building shifts, you dont have the problem with the door not latching. A house with a foundation should not shift much, but on a garage, shed or barn door, I dont even use the original ones anymore. Those buildings shift and there's no sense redoing it later, which usually happens in the dead of winter. Persoanlly, I think all striker plates should have longer holes, but they wont listen to me.....
Mark
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You probably need 4 inch screws to hit the studs. Also, put some bar hand soap on the threads to make screwing them in easier. The one good trick I remember from wood shop.

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On Sun, 19 Feb 2006 02:35:51 GMT, "Art"

My mother taught me that. She might have learned from her father, who didn't do any of this stuff until he got to the US.
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BTW, I use far more toothpicks for filling holes in wood than I do for picking my teeth. A box lasts me about 20 years.
On Sun, 19 Feb 2006 02:35:51 GMT, "Art"

My mother taught me that. She might have learned from her father, who didn't do any of this stuff until he got to the US.
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mm wrote:

Better to use vaseline or grease.
I prefer to drill a small pilot hole.
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We didn't have a drill in those days. We could only afford a gimlet.
I rarely use soap anymore, but I can't use anything else instead. Not fair to my mother. YMMV
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Hi, all OP again. My internet connection went out, so did not get to check this until after I went back...My mom, of all people suggested wooden matchsticks in the holes.
So, I ground off a small amount of the striker plate thing, the part when a piece folds into the hole itself, stuck matchsticks in and tightened it down. May not be Bob Villa approved, but it worked.
Thanks again for the suggestions.
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When it fails use glue with the matchsticks next time.

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Will do. Thanks for the hint.
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I would upgrade to a deadbolt lock its much more secure and elminates the risk of locking yourself out by accident by pulling the door shut.
from the original description the lock didnt sound like a deadbolt, which may qualify your mom for a homeowners insurance discount
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Thanks for the note. Actually, there is a KwikSet "door knob" lock and then a separate KwikSet deadbolt lock. And they are the cheaper end, which I know is not very secure, but she lives in a ultra-low crime area, and to be honest, her two rotts, Fang and Lady, would love to have the chance to "play" with anyone who decided to kick-in the door. LOL.
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