Door Handle Problems --- An Idiot's Guide

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Both here and at ironmongeryshoponline.co.uk we regularly encounter 'problems' customers have with both new and existing door handles.

The most common problem people have with door handles is when, after being operated, the handle does not return back to the horizontal position.

There are usually a few very simple reasons for this. We have put them in order of most easily rectified and would suggest trying to resolve your problem step by step.

1) Sometimes the screws used to fix the handle to the door have been over-tightened, especially if an electric screwdriver has been used. Over-tightening can cause 2 problems. First, this causes the backplate on which the handle is mounted to 'pinch' into the door and in turn 'pinch' the lock/latch, stopping the spring inside the lock/latch from doing its job properly. Secondly, over-tightening can create friction on the spring which is inside the handle backplate. To rectify these issues just loosen each of the screws that hold the handle very slightly (say a quarter of a turn to each screw). Try the handle, and if necessary loosen the screws a bit more.

2) Many door handles have internal springs which, if not properly lubricated, can grind against the inners of the handle backplate. To check if this is the cause of your problem do the following. Remove the handle from the door. Hold the backplate in one hand and operate the lever with your other hand to see if it appears to be grinding, If it is, smear a little grease or petroleum jelly onto the spring and move the handle a few times until the grease/jelly has worked its way into the spring mechanism. The handle should now move freely and can be re-fitted to the door.

3) Some door handles have a long 'neck' on the inside where the square spindle bar locates. Occasionally these can bind against the door, preventing the handle from returning to its normal position. Remove the handle from the door and lay it flat on a table. It should rest flat but if it 'rocks' then the'neck' is protruding further than the handle backplate. You will need to drill a hole in each side of your door big enough and deep enough to allow the handle backplate to rest flat against the door.

4) To save money during construction, many doors are fitted with very cheap tubular door latches and it is quite possible that the spring mechanism in this has failed. Remove the handles from the door and pull out the latch. You should be able to press in the latchbolt with a finger and watch it spring back out again. If it fails to do this fully or does so slowly then you should fit a new latch of the same size, but ideally better quality.

5) Sometimes, especially in new homes or on newly hung doors, doors 'drop' after a while. If this happens, the latchbolt can bind against its keep plate. If this has happened you will probably be able to spot signs of wear or scratches on the keep plate and maybe on the latchbolt. To correct this  you should remove the keep plate and reposition it slightly lower down the door frame.

If you found this guide useful, please let us know. Thanks

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