A jammed doorknob can cause a lot of problems.
Anyone in your household can get locked inside a room with no warning, and they may be left with no way to communicate that they’re stuck.
If you’re looking for solutions to fix a doorknob that won’t turn, I’m here to help.
You may think that you need to call in a locksmith to repair a stubborn knob, but in most situations, you can easily fix it yourself.
Why Do Doorknobs Get Stuck?
All elements of doorknob mechanisms are usually made of metal, which means they can be easily affected by weather fluctuations.
Metal doorknobs and wood doors can expand significantly due to a rise in temperature or humidity, leading to a stuck knob.
Mechanical problems may arise if your doorknob is old and worn—its parts may be rusted, misaligned, or entirely broken.
Brand new doorknobs aren’t exempt from issues, either. If they haven’t been installed correctly, you can run into problems with opening and closing your doors.
Fortunately, doorknob issues are pretty common, and they are relatively easy to fix on your own.
I’ve put together a list of the most effective, tried-and-tested ways to get your doorknob unstuck.
Let’s get to it!
How to Fix a Doorknob That Won’t Turn
1. Gently Shake the Doorknob
When facing a doorknob that won’t turn, the first thing you should try is to give it a bit of a jiggle.
Don’t shake it so hard that it breaks, but move it around a bit to see if you can loosen up the jammed parts.
Be gentle with your movements. Vigorous and careless jiggling can lead to more complex problems that need expensive solutions.
This simple method can work if the springs inside the doorknob’s mechanism have become misaligned or if the doorknob latch is stuck and failing to retract or extend.
2. Lubricate the Doorknob
If gently shaking and jiggling the stuck doorknob doesn’t work, try a bit of lubricant.
Lubricant can shake loose the rusted parts of an old and worn knob.
Choose a good quality lubricant (I prefer something made from Teflon vs the class WD-40, but if that’s all you have it can work well enough.
Apply 2 to 3 drops into the seam around the lock. Turn the knob around to spread the lubricant.
Once the mechanism is thoroughly lubricated, try to open the door again.
If the doorknob is still jammed, you can add a few more drops of lubricant and try a few more times.
3. Loosen the Screws
Sometimes, even a brand new doorknob lock won’t turn.
This can be baffling to homeowners, as surely a good quality doorknob will not warp or rust that quickly.
This is often the result of improper installation—the doorknob may have been screwed in too tightly.
The mechanism cannot work correctly, making the door difficult to open.
The solution is simple. Use a screwdriver to loosen the screws holding the doorknob in place.
Once the doorknob is a bit looser, try turning the handle to see if the doorknob is still hard to turn.
Adjust the screws until you can open the door with ease.
4. Check the Latch
Check the latch to see if it is retracted while the doorknob is stuck. It can mean that the door latch is misaligned or obstructed.
If the latch is stuck in some way, take a flathead screwdriver and place it above the latch.
Gently knock the screwdriver with a hammer. Repeat this step on the underside of the latch to shake it loose.
Be gentle with your tapping as strong movements may break the latch completely, and you’ll have bigger problems to worry about.
5. Look Inside
A closer look at the interior of the doorknob mechanism may be helpful if all the previous tips don’t work and the doorknob still won’t turn.
Unscrewing and removing the knob is easy—just remove the screws keeping the mechanism in place.
Disassembling the doorknob will make it easy to inspect it thoroughly.
Take a close look at all the components of the knob. If you notice any obstructions, you can remove them using a pair of pliers.
If your doorknob is old, you may notice issues right away once it’s disassembled.
If there are major problems with the mechanism, it may be best to replace it entirely.
6. Spring to Action
While your doorknob is disassembled, inspect the plates for visible problems.
The backside of a doorknob has springs that are crucial to the overall function of the mechanism.
If these springs are broken or bent at an odd angle, you have found the root of the issue—it’s time to replace the springs.
If the springs seem fine, ensure they are aligned horizontally when you put the doorknob back in place.
If you can’t see any broken parts or any other visible issues on the plate, lubricate the doorknob from the inside before you reattach it to the door.
A light application of WD40 should do the trick.
7. Check for Tube Issues
The last thing to check when you can’t find any other problem with your doorknob is the tubular latch that’s fixed on your doorframe.
It should be easy to unscrew from the door and remove it from the frame.
The tubular latch also has a spring mechanism. Push the bolt tongue to see if it springs back properly. If it doesn’t, this is likely the root of your doorknob issues.
If the components are broken or malfunctioning, I’d suggest you replace the tubular latch entirely.
If your doorknob is stuck, there’s no need to panic and call in a repairman for a complete replacement.
Just like fixing a loose door handle, this is one thing you can easily do on your own to diagnose the issue and fix it.
The tips I’ve listed on how to fix a doorknob that won’t turn are tried and tested solutions to the most common door issues.
With a handy screwdriver and a bit of trial and error, your doorknob should be back in perfect working condition in no time!