How To Fix a Door Latch That Won’t Retract

As you’re well aware, a properly functioning door should close when shut to provide security and prevent unauthorized entry. This purpose is defeated if your door refuses to retract, causing the latch to bang against the door frame instead of fitting into the hole where the latch goes.

If you’re having this problem, it’s not uncommon, and it doesn’t always mean you have to replace the door entirely. There are several possible causes for your door latch not retracting. The problem could be with the catch, the strike plate, or the door itself. Regardless of the cause, there are also several solutions available.

In this article, we’ll walk you through a few different methods for fixing a door latch that won’t retract and also provide some tips for preventive maintenance to help you avoid this issue.

 Let’s get right into it.

What is a Door Latch?

A door latch is a closing device used to secure doors after they have been closed. It is a form of fastener-type mechanical hardware designed to control the opening and closing of doors while also providing a secure connection.

Of all the locks used today, door latches are the most common type, as they can be used on all kinds of doors, including interior, exterior, swinging, and cabinetry doors. These door latches are available in a variety of standard and customized styles to meet a wide range of latching requirements.

In addition to being used in homes, offices, industrial settings, and buildings, door latches are used in the auto industry for car doors and compartments and in several household appliances. 

The typical makeup of a door latch consists of separate plates attached to the door and the adjacent frame and includes bolts, hinges, locks, and fasteners. 

Is a Door Latch Necessary?

Simply put, while a door latch may not be required, installing one is a good and necessary precaution. A door latch keeps your door closed and prevents it from opening unexpectedly.

Door latches are must-haves for several reasons;

  1. It is a safe way of ensuring security and keeping intruders away.
  2. It helps to keep the door from swinging open and hitting something or someone
  3. It also helps to eliminate the use of keys.
  4. It helps for easy access and monitoring.

How Can I Tell If My Door Latch Is Faulty?

A faulty door latch typically comes with some tell-tale signs that are difficult to miss. But, in case you missed it once or twice because you weren’t paying enough attention, here are some possible ways to tell if your door latch is faulty. 

  1. Your Door Refuses to Stay Closed

A door that won’t stay closed is not a pretty sight, especially when you need your privacy. Once there’s an issue with your door’s latch mechanism, it affects your door’s ability to close all the way. This is an easy one to spot.

     2. Your Door Doesn’t Close Till Its Slammed

If a door in your home or even your car won’t close unless slammed shut, it could be a sign that the door latch is faulty. Except, of course, you have major anger issues. 

It could be that the latch has become misaligned with the anchor or that the latch mechanism needs to be fixed. Since continued slamming will do your door no good, you should get it checked once you notice this.

      3. Your Door Will Not Open

If your door won’t open even when the knob is turned, it’s most likely a sign that your door latch is faulty, and this is very easy to spot. 

Reasons Why Your Door Latch Won’t Retract

It can be frustrating to realize that your door latch is faulty without knowing why. Thankfully, we’ve compiled a list of possible reasons why your door latch won’t retract. Feel free to dig in.

  1. Stuck Door Latch

It’s easy to tell if your door latch is faulty. All you have to do is turn your door knob and see if the latch goes in and out easily and without friction. If it doesn’t, it’s stuck, which could be due to age and a lack of lubrication.

  1. Bad Door Fitting

Measure the distance between the door and the frame to see if it is properly installed. If the gap is too large, the latch will be unable to latch onto the strike plate hole.

  1. Lose Hinges

Loose screws are a common mistake many people make during door latch installation. This makes the door unstable and causes latch retracting issues.

  1. Broken Mechanism

When there is a problem with the internal mechanism of your door latch, the functionality suffers. Whether broken or damaged, it can cause retracting issues that will most likely continue until it is replaced.

  1. Jammed Door Latch

While this is a minor issue, it does prevent your door from closing and opening properly. Turning the doorknob becomes extremely difficult when a door latch becomes jammed.

How To Fix a Door Latch That Won’t Retract

Your door latch, like everything else, is made by man and is prone to becoming faulty or worn out over time. The good news is that your door isn’t completely useless because simple and quick fixes will have it up and jamming in no time.

We’ve compiled a list of solutions you can use as a DIY project or give to a professional to lp you with. 

  1. Lubricate the latch assembly in the case where the door latch has started sticking with age and lack of lubrication.
  1. Reposition the strike plate so that the latch can easily fit into the hole. You can do this by adjusting the strike plate based on how far the latch is from the strike plate.
  1. Replace the latch mechanism in the case where it has been broken and, as such, cannot function properly. 
  1. Clean your door latch to get rid of grime and dirt that might have accumulated over time. 
  1. If your door latch is jammed, use a hammer to hit the latch a couple of times.
  1. Tighten the screws on the door hinge to make the door more stable, which will allow your door to retract more easily.

Final Thoughts

While some causes of your door retracting are unavoidable, you can avoid others by paying close attention to warning signs on your door.

Door latches are an essential part of any door, but they can also be one of the most annoying when they start acting up. When your door latch doesn’t retract, it can be a major pain, especially if you need to get in or out in a hurry.

Fortunately, you can always come back to this guide if you need help figuring out what to do about your door not retracting.

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