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General: Repairing Doors that do not Latch Properly

Doors that do not latch properly, that is, the lock does not align with the striker plate, can sometimes be repaired by the method used in repairing sticking or dragging doors. First, check to see which way the door needs to move. If the latch hits the bottom of the striker plate, the door may have sagged from the upper hinge. If the latch hits the top of the plate, the jamb may have settled on the striker side.

If the mis-alignment is minor, it’s possible that a 3” screw in one of the hinges may be enough to fix the problem (See, an Easy Fix for Sticking or Dragging Doors). For other causes, it may be necessary to raise or lower the striker plate. This is done by removing the two screws holding the striker plate and adjusting the plate either up or down to accommodate the lock. After removing the plate, mark the new location with a pencil, and use a chisel to remove a sufficient amount of wood to allow for the plate to be flush with the surface. Using a utility knife to first cut the outline will help avoid splintering the wood. Then, chisel slowly removing only a small amount of wood at a time.

Since you are moving the plate, the old screw holes will no longer work and you must fill the old holes before installing the new striker. Toothpicks, match sticks, or small slivers cut from a piece of scrap wood will work here; and it’s sometimes helpful to squirt a drop of wood glue into the hole first. Filling the holes will help the new screws go in straight. Re-attach the striker plate and the door should latch properly.


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