How to Fix a Door Lock

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Has your door lock inexplicably stopped working? Does your door frame no longer align perfectly with the wall? You might have an easier solution than you think. Perhaps these DIY home maintenance procedures might save you some expenses otherwise used on hiring a professional locksmith.

Read on the article to know how to fix a door lock.

Dangers of a Faulty Door Lock

locksmith repair door lock

Depending on the circumstance, a sturdy door lock can lead to the difference between life and death. Even if you live in a relatively crime-free neighborhood where you feel comfortable leaving your doors unlocked, showing caution is necessary to remove the unnecessary danger and maintain a healthy peace of mind.

Whether it’s for growing security concerns or fixing the door-wall misalignment, or something silly like keeping your pesky siblings out of your room, repairing or replacing your door lock is a must-do priority.

Continue reading our guide to find out more about door locks and how to fix them when they aren’t working properly. 

Components of a Door Lock


Your regular door lock usually has a spindle or doorknob on its exterior. It also consists of a deadbolt knob or keyhole that you turn around to deploy a deadbolt that latches the door to the wall steadfastly. These are usually connected to a latch bolt and deadbolt that connects to the hole inside the wall facing the door.

This hole is occupied by the strike plate. The strike plate is a bronze, copper structure that contains holes inside of which the door latches and the deadbolt connect when the door is locked.

For a normally functioning door lock, the latch and bolt are parallel to the strike bolt and fit perfectly and slide through without any mishaps. However, rust and filth may cause friction or misalignments to occur which can lead to doors no longer aligning with the wall and stop functioning. 

Commonly Occurring Door Lock Faults

It’s no secret that time and use wear down even the most long-lasting things. Your door locks are no exception. Does your door no longer lock itself properly? Does it slide off its latch? Or perhaps your key gets stuck occasionally and requires some manhandling to get it to break free.

The process of rusting and the general accumulation of grime and dust over the years comes with its own set of problems. For example, extreme climate zones where temperatures drop below 0 degrees can lead to the metal inside of door locks sticking or shrinking. Conversely, extremely high-temperature zones can lead to the door lock metal expanding slightly which causes a slight loss of structural integrity.

The good news is that each problem has its unique solution. Keep reading to find solutions to all these problems:

  • The door lock not latching onto the strike plate properly
  • The key getting stuck inside the door lock’s keyhole
  • The deadbolt getting stuck inside the strike plate

Key Getting Stuck Inside the Door Lock

Man Holding Broken Key

There could be many reasons why keys get stuck inside the keyholes inside door locks, including either the rusting or corrosion of the door lock or the key itself. The increase in friction may cause the key to get stuck. It’s also possible that due to being worn out, the key’s edges become jagged or smoothed out, causing the lock to no longer recognize it. 

Both problems occur in old, worn-out door locks. A dry lubricant is an easy temporary fix for this problem, but the primary issue lies in the door itself so perhaps replacing or restoring the door lock soon should be on your priority list.

 Commonly Used Lubricants

  • Graphite lubricants and graphite powder
  • Dry lubricants such as Teflon lubricants
  • Triflow lubricants 

Lubricants to Avoid

  • Linseed oil
  • Penetrating fluids such as Kroil
  • Petroleum-based oils such as WD-40
  • Motor oil

These widely used lubricants are popular throughout the world but in this case, they may not function as intended due to their liquid nature, which causes filth and grime inside the door lock to stick to the lubricant and cause unnecessary complications in the long run. The keyhole ends up even stickier than it was originally.


Coat your key in any of the aforementioned lubricants. Make sure to cover it completely to not cause any unnecessary complications. Apply a few drops of lubricant to the door lock.

Slide your key into the keyhole and slide back out. Rotate the key inside the keyhole on both the left and right sides. Repeat this procedure a few more times to ensure that the dry lubricant is spread out evenly throughout the door lock’s keyhole.

When attempting to use your door lock this time, you should notice how much easier and smoother the process has become. Enjoy not having to wrestle your door lock every time you come home from work.

Latch Bolt Misaligning with the Strike Plate

If your door no longer closes properly and ends up only loosely connected to the wall, The door lock might be aligned improperly. This usually occurs due to prolonged exposure to high temperatures and humidity. It might also occur due to adverse weather conditions, which can cause the door lock to shrink or expand which then causes it to misalign with the strike plate. 

This is the most commonly occurring issue in door locks and a good way to determine if this is the case for your door is to check if the door no longer latches onto the wall properly.

The correct solution depends on determining the position of the door latch relative to the strike plate. The door latch may be slightly to the left, to the right, above, or below the strike plate. Upon finding the correct position of the door lock and the strike plate, adjust the strike plate so that the door lock latches perfectly in line with the strike plate. 


Use a flathead screwdriver to tighten the hinge screws of the door. After tightening the screws, make sure it does not move or tilt at all before moving on to loosening the strike plate’s screws.

Upon loosening it, shift its position so that it faces the door lock’s latch and deadbolt lock directly in a straight line and screw it back again. Make sure to ensure it does not move from its position and that the door latches onto the wall properly.

After making the proper adjustments, try opening and closing the door again. If the door closes properly while making the clicking noise associated with the door latch matching the strike plate, you have your solution. If not, try retightening the screws and confirming whether the strike plate and doorknob are in line.

If the door lock still refuses to function properly, try seeking help from your local professional locksmith.

The Deadbolt Getting Stuck Inside of the Strike Plate

Have you ever found yourself in the unpleasant situation of being locked inside the bathroom as a child due to the lock mysteriously not opening? However, upon recalling such an incident as an adult, it is easy to recognize that it could have simply happened due to a faulty door lock.

The deadbolt may get stuck inside the strike plate due to multiple reasons. It could either be due to corrosion and rust occurring on the deadbolt itself or grime, dirt, and other filth deposited on the strike plate. 

This causes friction between the deadbolt and the strike plate and the grime and filth causes it to stick when the deadbolt is inserted inside the strike plate.

Annual lubrication usually prevents such an incident from happening. However, if the door lock is neglected long enough, it causes situations where the door lock could get stuck. 


A deadbolt getting stuck inside a strike plate can usually be attributed to it not being properly recalled back inside the lock body. This can either be due to a fault occurring in the lock body itself or the accumulation of grime and filth inside the strike plate. It may also occur due to the lock bolt being frozen due to extremely low temperatures.

If the issue occurs in the function of the door lock’s deadbolt motion mechanism, it is best to replace your door lock with a new one, but you may also try to tighten the screws into the screw holes using a flat-head screwdriver.

The most common reason for the deadbolt getting stuck inside of the strike plate, however, is simply the buildup of dirt inside the strike plate which causes the deadbolt to stick and refuse to come back out. The proper solution is to clean the built-up dirt inside the strike plate and deadbolt using cotton swabs and cleaning fluids. Follow up with using dry Teflon spray to ensure a smooth locking mechanism.

If the problem occurs due to freezing low temperatures, simply warm up the strike plate and deadbolt using a hairdryer or blowtorch.

How to Fix a Door Lock: Conclusion

It’s not hard learn how to fix a door lock, especially once you diagnose the problem. We hope that our guide has provided you with solutions to common problems you may be having with your door getting stuck. But if you’re ever really stuck trying to fix the door, or stuck because of it, call a professional! 

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