Ever dealt with a loose doorknob which is enslaved to the whims of the wind and slams your door shut at the minimal breeze?
Well, I have lived in this 70-year-old countryside house with 30-year-old poorly maintained doors, windows, knobs, and handles for two years already and I have enough.
But because it’s still holiday time, I have to wait at least half a month before I can find a local locksmith available.
So this post was born from my silly attempts at some DIY, combined with the new things I learned about doorknob fixing and the variety of doorknobs and handles.
I hope it can help you sort things out!
Good luck from a fellow homeowner.
How to Keep Wind From Blowing Door Open
That’s the most annoying part of dealing with this 30 years old front door.
Do you get a windy day? You can slam it shut all you want, it will eventually blow open when you least expect it - and since I live in the countryside, that means stray cats will get in… not exactly a pleasant experience when you have critical stuff inside and, worse, you’re allergic to cats.
Anyway, this is a photo of the naughty door:
My entrance door, inside view
The handle doesn’t really “click” when I close the door -- so something’s up inside. Probably the other half of the door being off-axis due to a faulty jamb hook, so this is more of a structural issue than a handle-only problem.
If you also have this problem, until you fix it, there are a few temporary hacks you may try:
- Lock the door every time you go out or come back, and keep it locked
- Use a door stopper
- Install a pin next to the doorknob or lever and tie the knob to it
I prefer locking by key, but if I can’t do that for some reason, I’ll use a heavy chair for a door stopper:
I swear I’m gonna kill this door if it doesn’t stop opening at the tiniest breath of wind...
I know that it looks funny, but it works!
Now, on with the fixing guides.
How to Fix a Door Knob for DIYs
I have to admit that the only reason I didn’t go through with the DIY is the weakness that comes with my disability and medication, so I’m still going to call a home repair expert next month.
However, I really wouldn’t want to unlearn the DIY trials, so the next sections are about what I learned, starting with door knob types.
6 Door Knob Types: Which One Is Yours?
In addition to knowing the difference between a regular knob and a handle, door locks come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and functions.
During my research, I found six of these:
- Dummy Door Knobs or Handles: This type of knob has no locking mechanism at all. It’s just a surface mounted on the door, for pulling it open or pushing it close.
- Passage Door Knobs: These are knobs that don’t lock. They are used for areas of the house where you don’t need a lock, only door closing.
- Keyed Entry Knobs: The knob or handle has the keyhole in it. This type of doorknob is generally used for outdoors because it adds a layer of security. Internally, it works without the key.
- Keyless Entry Door Locks: These locks allow you to open a door only if you have the correct code or contact card. Additionally, they can provide a keyed cylinder for backup purposes, being electronically operated.
- Privacy Door Knobs: These are generally used for bathrooms and bedrooms, where you can lock them from inside using a lever and unlock from outside using a tool like a screwdriver. They are similar to keyed entry knobs but without a key.
- Electric Door Locks: They can be opened using a key or an electric switch. Typically used with door phones.
See below for an example interior tech scheme of a knob lock:
How to replace a door knob or handle
Once you find the correct name for your old knob and the new one that will replace it (if you choose not to use the same), let’s get to the steps necessary to get it replaced.
1. How to remove a door knob or handle
This is how I would remove my door handle to replace it:
1. Remove the escutcheon plate to uncover the screws
My first attempt at removing the escutcheon plate to reach the screws.
2. Take out the screws inside and outside to take out the lever
Generally speaking, much of how this will work will depend on the type of doorknob or handle you have, its branded design and the material it’s made of.
So always refer to the user manual for the details.
If you want to know how to remove a doorknob without screws, it’s actually simple: do it as you would with a screw, but look for latches to pull and push to extract the knob and its hardware.
There’s an interesting guide on YouTube by All About Doors and Windows that you can follow step by step:
YOUTUBE: How to Remove a Door Knob with No Visible Screws [1:00 minute video tutorial]
However, keep in mind that this process on occasion might take longer and tire you more.
Get in touch with a technician if you can’t sort it out.
2. How to install a door knob or handle
If you haven’t removed your door knob or handle yet, do so (see the section above on “How to remove a doorknob”).
- Take measures of the pre-drilled hole and any other hole, including that for the strike plate on the door jamb
- Choose a doorknob or handle of your preferred style and brand
- Get your tools ready (i.e. screws and a screwdriver)
- Insert the metal lever into the doorknob hole and mount from there
- Cover the screws with the provided plate if available
For a step by step photo-based guide on how to install a door handle, read Mallory and Savannah’s personal guide at Home Depot.
A Few Tips for Door Knob and Handle Maintenance
Always refer to the manual for the doors and knobs for the technical details on how to remove, fix your old knob or install a new one.
The other recommendation, other than fixing a loose or faulty doorknob, is to regularly sanitize it -- even if that means having to remove it and clean it before putting it back in place.
In fact, it has been demonstrated that bacteria from a user’s hands can accumulate and spread to other users through the use of the knob or handle.
Better to play it safe than sorry, especially if there are kids or immunocompromised people in the house!
Don’t freak out when your door knob starts to act up.
Try some DIY troubleshooting and contact a locksmith if your attempts fail. Describe your problem in as much detail as possible.
My daytime job is working as a graphic designer in a stealth FinTech startup. I spend my evenings learning about home improvement. From time to time I write about these very concepts to share what I've learned. My hobbies include swimming, gardening, and binge-watching popular TV shows.
Find me on Twitter at @AshleyStephan9 or check out my Personal Blog.