Can't get the lock together
January 17, 2009 5:22 PM   Subscribe

Can you help me get this door to lock behind me?

I'm trying to lock a storage closet. The lock is of the ordinary tumbler type, with three tongues (?) close together and a smaller fourth one below. The door handle only turns when you turn the key in the lock. It's supposed to lock behind you when you shut it.

This isn't happening. The door can be pushed open after I shut it. Since the door handle still won't turn without the key, I don't think the handle is the problem. (I did turn the key in numerous ways to make sure I wasn't supposed to be actively locking it, and that's not the case.)

I think the problem is that the tongues aren't perfectly aligned and don't quite catch in the holes. I keep trying to slam the door hard and create the force to shove the lock together, but the door has one of those hydraulic wossnames that makes it shut gently every time. If I had someone on the other side to push the door hard, I bet that would work -- but of course there's only the one door out.

I could probably get this looked at on Monday, but no sooner. I've got crap in there now, though. Do you have any suggestions to work around it till then?
posted by Countess Elena to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
I'm not sure I understand your description fully - is this a mortise lock? Sometimes doors sag a bit on their hinges, which can make the lock's tongue not line up properly with the hole in the strike plate. Try pulling up on the door handle as you close it to see if you can make things line up better. It often takes a bit of muscle to lift a door enough, although a closet probably has a lightweight hollow core door.

If it's not a mortise lock, it would be helpful if you could post a picture of it.
posted by Quietgal at 5:54 PM on January 17, 2009

Is the frame steel or wood?
What kind of tools do you have?
Do you own this place?
Can you take a picture?
posted by 517 at 5:55 PM on January 17, 2009

If you are really worried about it, then look for a locksmith that does emergency/24 hour service to come check it out for you.
posted by gudrun at 5:56 PM on January 17, 2009

It's a steel door -- yes, it is a mortise type of lock. I think it's pretty heavy. I yanked hard on the closed door handle, thinking the lock wasn't lining up, but nothing happened. (Not that I am Wonder Woman. Maybe someone else could try.)

517, I'm just renting it. I wouldn't want to screw something up! Security's pretty good without this particular door being locked, but one never knows, which is why it's on my mind. I might need to take a few things out of there for peace of mind, but the rest are too bulky (and not at all valuable enough) to walk away overnight.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:21 PM on January 17, 2009

Actually, you know what, it's probably a cylindrical lock, not mortise. I don't think I got it just now.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:25 PM on January 17, 2009

Unscrew the metal plate in the frame that catches the tongues of the lock, and realign it slightly until it catches.
posted by gjc at 7:19 PM on January 17, 2009

It sounds like what's happening is that the strike plate is misaligned so that the bolt is hanging up on the edge of the hole it's supposed to be going into. You may need to loosen the screws on the plate, reposition it and tighten them. Or it may be that there is something stuck between the door and the frame (or to one or the other) preventing the door from closing all the way. Or it may be that the screws on a hinge have worked loose and your door is sagging.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 12:18 AM on January 18, 2009

temporarily remove the "hydraulic wossname"?
posted by K.P. at 6:07 AM on January 18, 2009

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