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?
Can't see the guts of your doorknob from here, but it may just be gummed up,
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.
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.
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.
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
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