What Could Cause New Exterior Door to Fail to Lock?

Answered by Brett ~ August 31, 2011 ~ No Comments

My husband installed an exterior door last week and it was working great. About three days after the installation I noticed a lot of light coming through where the door was sealed and I noticed it was not locked. Any thoughts as to what could be causing this?

Lindsay J. ~ Seattle, WA

Brett Kulina

Lindsay, it sounds as though the strike plate on your new door may need to be adjusted so that the door seals better when it is closed. The strike plate is the metal piece that is attached to the door jamb and receives the latch. Moving the strike plate in about an 1/8 of an inch will keep the door snug against the weather seals when the door is closed. On some door hardware the strike plate is easily adjustable, but keep in mind that other models may require you to enlarge the recessed area on the door's edge, in which the strike plate sits, with a wood chisel. If this is the case, then you will probably need to drill new pilot holes for the strike plate screws, and possible fill the old screw holes with some wood putty.

If your door is able to be opened, even when the handle is locked, then the latch may not be lining up with its pocket in the strike latch. This would be another sign that the strike plate needs some tweaking so that it can correctly receive the latch, and you may need to move the strike plate up or down so that the latch lines up with the pocket in the strike plate. If the latch position already lines up with the strike plate, but the latch is not reaching all the way into the pocket, then you may have to install some hinge shims, which would move the entire door closer to the strike plate. If your door came pre-hung in a frame, then installing hinge shims is most likely not necessary, as pre-hung doors usually arrive with a good fit. Hinge shims are more commonly needed when installing a new door slab into an existing door frame.

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