Deadbolt lock question
June 20, 2007 8:53 PM   Subscribe

My deadbolt won't lock, only sometimes, when I lock the bottom lock on the door. Can you help me troubleshoot?

I tried looking at the inside of the lock where the bolt catches, but I don't really know what I am looking for in there. What happens is, I pull the bottom door shut, lock the bottom lock, and then lock the deadbolt, but it doesn't turn all the way and so the deadbolt doesn't lock. However, this only happens about half the time when I try to lock it. What could the problem be? Or am I just not thinking right? The brand appears to be kwikset. I could ask the landlord for help, but I would rather try to figure it out myself.
posted by sweetkid to Home & Garden (4 answers total)
Theory: When locked, the non-deadbolt lock is pushing the door slightly ajar, preventing the deadbolt bolt from slamming home. Try locking the non-deadbolt and then pushing or pulling on the shut door while simultaneously manipulating the dead bolt. If you can get the deadbolt to lock when doing this, you'll know that's the problem.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:19 PM on June 20, 2007

Another possibility is that the deadbolt cylinder is just worn out; Kwikset locks are easy to find and so repacement parts or a whole new lock will be easy to come by; it is not that hard to re-key the lock so that your old keys will work; or you can take the new lock to a locksmith and have it re-keyed pretty easily.

If it is an alignment problem as described above, removing and adjusting the striker plate (the part on the door frame) will fix it; a drill and/or chisel might be needed.
posted by TedW at 3:04 AM on June 21, 2007

Cool Papa Bell has a good answer. If pushing and pulling on the door while jiggling the deadbolt doesn't work right away, you can also try pulling up or pushing down on the door handle.
posted by Orinda at 9:44 AM on June 21, 2007

Orinda may be on to something. If the bolt turns freely when you pull up hard on the door knob there’s a relatively easy fix that’s best done with a cordless drill/driver, but you might be able to get by with just a screwdriver. When I hang a door (and this goes double for exterior doors) I always replace one of the inside-top hinge screws with a screw that’s long enough to go all the way through the door jamb and into the framing. This prevents the door from sagging over time, but its not common practice.

Anyway, get a screwdriver and something to stand on and check to see if your inside- top hinge screws are loose. If one of them doesn’t come out easily its probably a 2 or 3 inch screw that’s going into the framing, and you should be able to tighten it up enough to adjust your door. If they’re both short and loose you can try backing them out, and glueing a piece of toothpick into the holes to give the treads something to bite into and to do some actual work.

Adjusting the strike plate on a dead-bolt is easier said than done because its attached to a keeper that’s screwed hard into the framing. You can buy a Kwikset dead-bolt for $25 and, with a little practice, you can change one out in about 15 minutes. But if you don’t know what you’re doing, and don't get lucky, they’re aggravating beyond belief.
posted by Huplescat at 11:11 AM on June 21, 2007

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