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How to repair front door handles

Richard Collins Operations Director

Author: Richard Collins - Operations Director

Whatever type of front door you have, sometimes the handle can stop working properly. There are various reasons that this can happen but, the good news is, it’s usually easy to fix. To make it even easier, we’ve put this guide together to help you repair your front door handle.

Signs that your front door handle might need to be repaired

front Door

The first sign that your front door handle may need to be repaired might be a floppy handle or a door that refuses to close properly. You may also notice that the door handles don’t seem to spring back correctly. As your front door is an exterior door, if you notice any of these signs, then you need to act as soon as possible to make sure that your home stays secure.

The first step is to identify the problem. It could be that there is simply a missing screw in the door plate, or there may be a more significant mechanical problem with your door hardware. If you live in an older property, it may be that rust, dust, and dirt has built up and is impeding the performance or it could be a simple case of wear and tear, in which case a new door handle may be the best option.

Tools you might need to repair your front door handle

Luckily, many of the tools you will need for repairing your front door handle will be part of your household tool kit and, if not, they’re easy to buy from any hardware or DIY store.

Fixing door

To repair your front door handle, you’ll need:

  • Tape measure – remember measure twice, cut once
  • Pencil
  • Utility knife for scoring and cutting
  • A chisel – 1 inch is the most useful
  • A power drill or Phillips screwdriver
  • A flat head screwdriver

Depending on the problem, you may need to buy a new handle or doorknob and a deadbolt kit.

How to fix front door handles

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you fix your front door handle:

Step one: Remove the door handle to repair or replace parts

If the problem isn’t immediately apparent or you need to replace parts, you may need to remove the door handle altogether.

If you can see the screws, use a screwdriver or Allen key to loosen the screws and remove the handle or knob.

If you can’t see the screws, it might be a little more tricky. You’ll need to look for something called a detent access hole. This is a small hole that contains a pin that keeps the door knob or handles secure. Use a flathead screwdriver to press down on the pin, then spin the shaft to allow you to remove the knob or handle.

Step two: Detach the base

After the handle is out of the way, you’ll need to remove the base. Grab your flathead screwdriver and ease it under the ring. Take care not to scratch or damage the backplate – if you do, the handle is unlikely to fit correctly, and a locksmith call out will be essential.

Step three: Check for loose screws and tighten as necessary

Once the base has been removed, you’ll have a clear view of the screws. Each screw runs right through the door to the backing plate and does the important job of holding the handle or knob as one piece. Keep the backing plate steady while you carefully tighten each screw.

Step four: Put everything back together

Once the screws are tightened, you can start to put everything back together. The base plate should slot back in but sometimes there are additional clips to secure it. After the base plate is secure, it’s simply a case of placing the handle or knob over the spindle shaft, taking care to line up with the screw holes or detent hole.

Finally, replace the screws or tighten the detent, and you’ll be good to go with your newly fixed, fully functioning door handle or door knob.

What should you do if the door handle needs adjustment?

If the door handle or door knob is spinning around but not doing anything, it generally means the small set screw has worked loose and lost its purchase.

You’ll need a screwdriver or Allen key, then look around the base of the doorknob and tighten the loose screw. It may be that the screw has got lost at some point. If this is the case, remove the door handle, following the steps above, and take the whole piece to the hardware or DIY store to get the right sized replacement screws.

What if you need to replace the handle completely?

If the handle cannot be repaired, then a new handle may be the only option. A hardware store should be able to help you find a suitable replacement, then you need to fit the handle. You can find out more about installing a front door handle in our guide.

Removing rust or dirt

Rust build-up will impede the lock and handle of the door, making it hard for the key or knob to turn; it’s easy to remove the rust and can be an effective solution to a faulty door handle.

Step 1: Gather your equipment

You can use various solutions to remove rust. Vinegar and baking soda can be very effective, or you can use a special rust remover. You’ll also need a bowl that’s large enough to submerge the lock, clean cloths, and a clear spray.

Step 2: Remove the handle

Follow the stages above to remove the handle.

Step 3: Clean the handle

Fill your container with vinegar and submerge the handle. Let the handle sit for 24 hours.

Step 4: Remove any rusty residue

Coat the handle with baking soda, then douse in clean water scrubbing as you go – this will remove any remaining rusty residue.

Step 5: Allow to air dry and protect against further build-up

It’s essential to allow the handle and locks to air dry for a minimum of 8 hours. Then use a clear coating to prevent further rust or dirt from building up.

Step 6: Reassemble

Follow the steps above to reassemble your handle.

Is it always wise to DIY?

Because this is an exterior door, you could compromise the security of your home, so if you’ve any concerns about your skills in this area or about having the necessary tools, it may be wise to call in professionals. You can be confident we will fix the problem and minimise the amount of time your home is unsecured.

If you’d like to find out more about choosing the best type of front door for your home, please contact our expert team today.

Richard Collins Operations Director


Richard Collins - Operations Director

About Richard Collins

Rick is an expert in lean practices and principles, and how they’re applied to manufacturing, warehouse, administration and management of the business. As an operations director he oversees all areas of the business ensuring they run as efficiently as possible and has worked his way up through virtually every department since he joined us 13 years ago.

Read more about Richard Collins