How to fix a stuck door knob and door

April 10, 2014

So, this is a project I wasn’t planning to share with you all, but when it became a pain in my butt I decided I would. Sometimes even I read blogs and think everyone’s got it together, but posts like this are nice. Because nobody has it all together, especially not me. :)

Have you seen that Lowe’s commercial, the one with the ceiling fan and the guy throws it out the window? That’s my husband’s favorite commercial because he says it reminds him of me. I get frustrated easily when a project doesn’t go my way. :)

It doesn’t happen often. But when it does…watch out windows.

The door in this post was almost thrown from the house, if I could have gotten it removed to even throw it. It will make sense in a few.

So remember when I showed you our spray painted door knobs and how they weren’t holding up well?:

Many of you felt my pain with the chipping paint on knobs – but some of you had great luck with spray painting them. I think sanding may be the key? Also, a less used knob helps I’m sure. I sprayed our back and garage door knobs and they both wore off pretty fast but this one on the garage door was worse.

But the knob was working so I had no plans to change it out – I figured they last forever so there wouldn’t be any need to buy a new one for a while.

Well, knobs don’t last forever, and now I know! :) One day recently it just stopped working. For a few hours we could jiggle it and the latch bolt (the thing that sticks out and keeps the door shut) would move and we could open it. By that evening it wouldn’t jiggle anymore – totally, completely stuck.

I’ve never seen anything like it – this door gets more use than any other one in our house for sure, but it literally worked fine and then went to crap within a few hours. Annoying.

So, I needed to replace the door knob. But I kept running out of time to run to Lowe’s and one day turned into the next and eventually we were one week in to using the front door and the garage keypad to get into the garage or get to the cars. Not ideal. Finally I picked up the new knob and sat down to replace it, figuring it would take a few minutes.

The “take a few minutes” curse. I’ve spoken of this and the “this will be easy” curse before. You never, EVER say it. Out loud or in your head.

Well, I mentioned the door wouldn’t open, and when I took the old knob off nothing else would budge. The parts of the latch were stuck in there:

stuck door latch door knob

And there wasn’t anything I could do to get them out.

I took that photo after I spent 30 minutes destroying the longer part of the latch with a screwdriver and a hammer:

It was at that point that I started taking photos because I knew this was going to be a royal pain.

I had to just pound it out of there, because there was no other way to remove it. The other parts were still in the door though.

I tried EVERYTHING. The door would not budge, the latch would not budge. About an hour in I decided we would just never use the garage door EVER EVER AGAIN and it would be FINE.

But now I was mad. If I had to beat the door down I was going to do this. (You see the window reference now?) 

I tried taking the door off the hinges, and finally got the pins out but the door still wouldn’t move. I was home alone at this point and needed two of us to move it back and forth to get it out. I was determined to get this done before my husband got home though. 

I was going to conquer this door on my own.

It took 90 minutes total – NINETY MINUTES. With the pins out of the door hinges I could at least move it around a bit, so I was finally able to get the flathead screwdriver in there to move things around a little.

After a lot of banging and a little jiggling I finally got the door almost open – I put the pins back in the hinges, went around through the garage and then pushed the door open and hallelujah! The door finally opened!!

This is what was left:

door knob latch stuck

The latch had actually come OFF. What the??

And by the time I was done the door was beat up:

You can see the rest of the latch in there. It still wouldn’t come out – I had to take the whole thing off the door.

What should have been two pieces turned into about eight by the time I was done:

removing a stuck door knob

Now the door needs to be sanded down and touched up, but it works!

The silver lining is that we now have a nice, pretty, not-rubbing-off oil rubbed bronze knob:

replacing door knobs

GoodNESS. It took forever, but I did it! And the door is still in the house, not in the yard, which is huge for me. :)

Any of you get frustrated when DIY doesn’t go your way? Usually I know how to fix stuff, so when something challenges me I can get easily annoyed. But I won this one. After an hour and a half.

P.S. Check out this post to see how to install new door knobs.

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  1. Oh! I am laughing SO hard right now! The same thing happened to us with our daughter's bedroom door. Only problem was our 2 year old was in the room and we could NOT get that door open!! My husband (who happens to be a police officer) hauls back and lifts his leg to kick the door in! (Ummm...honey, this is not a police raid!) Needless to say, we did finally get it open after more than an hour and A LOT of damage to the door :) Funny thing is the 2 year old just played the entire time, without a clue anything was wrong!

  2. I know the pain and all I can say is THANK YOU for keeping it real! :-)

  3. Funny you would post this on this particular day. I am at the throwing out the window point with removing 45+ year old shower door frame that are screwed into ceramic tile. I have spent 3 days with every tool and trick in my hat and have removed 5 of the 8. They have rusted about 1/4" down into the actual screw and are determined they are going to out do me.

    1. Can you get a sawzall in between the frame and tile?

  4. Yes- every single time I say "this will only take me a few minutes" the project always goes wrong. Always. I'm glad it worked out for you in the end- what a pain though. I probably would have ripped the whole door out. :)

  5. This is a classic post! Thanks! I needed to smile/LOL right NOW!

  6. I had to laugh at this post...glad it all worked out...we are in door project hell here, too.

  7. Funnily enough, we have a back door knob which is getting 'sticky', and I was just wondering if in fact the whole mechanism ever jams. Well, now I know, after your experience - eek. Time to zoom off to Lowes/HD to look at new doorknobs. The fun never ends.

  8. This is the story of Every. Single. DIY. in my home! The former owners jury rigged everything with whatever junk they had on hand. Oh my goodness. I feel your pain!! LOL

  9. Oh, yea. I have a WWE raging temper after awhile and then there is no telling what I may do. I may have destroyed the door frame had I been in your shoes. It really looks nice, glad you rode it out.

  10. Wow--I have two door knobs that need replaced, and I've never had to do this in any other home, but now I see I'm not alone! Thanks for letting me know what to expect! :)

  11. I feel your pain. I went through this exact same thing with the door that leads to my basement and garage. After 2 days of walking around the house just to get in the garage (thank god we installed a number pad a couple of years ago) I had to get it fixed and it took about as long as yours did. I pretty much did the same thing. Took the pins out of the hinges and then sticking that screwdriver in there. It must happen with door knobs that get the most use as I've never had a problem like that on any other doors.

  12. I am soooo glad there are others out there that experience this sort of crap!

    1 - I spraypainted all of our doorknobs ORB too and yes, the heavily used ones were scratched off within a week or so. They all got replaced with new ones to hold up better
    2 - My frustrating door story: In the process of spraypainting our master bath knob, the inner latch was already attached to the door before I got around to touching up the knob. I keep working on the project (sanding a cabinet) and the door shuts from the open windows. I, AND THE CAT, ARE STUCK IN THE BATHROOM! And husband was fishing. I settled in for a nap in the closet until he got home and then it dawned on me to take it off the hinges. Finally devised a hammering device from a brush and hair pin, got the pins out, and I finally escaped.

    How the hell does this kind of stuff always happen? Ugh, the joys of DIY.

  13. Oh wow, this is so me. My husband makes fun of me constantly because I inevitably give something about 10 minutes before I start throwing things. That Lowe's commercial is one of our favorites too.

  14. I thought ALL quick projects went this way. My husband swears nothing is ever simple. I applaud you, I would have given up and waited for reinforcements.

  15. I also had the door to my garage break a few years ago. Unfortunately my husband was on deployment & I grabbed the drill! I was so upset so I drilled until a 6 inch chunk of door was gone. Not my proudest DIY moment by far. I even tried to"fix" it by putting a metal sleeve over it hoping he wouldn't notice. He noticed alright. He locked his tool box!

  16. Funny and awful at the same time. Love the look of the new door knob.

    Yep. I never use the "It will only take a minute to do this, It will be easy". I lied. I've said it and that's how I know it is dangerous to say. And I have jumped up and down a few times.
    Hard! ;)

  17. I love this post - it's nice to see someone else struggle with a DIY project from time to time, too!! Now I know I'm not alone!!

  18. I recently did some ORBing on our front door and am hoping it doesn't rub off. I did sand them though so fingers crossed.

  19. Thank you for posting this! It seems the simplest task turn into major ordeals for me at times and makes me want to give up. I find relief that I am not the only one!

  20. Been there girlfriend, been there. It''s become even more frustrating in the 3 years since my husband passed. Changing a garbage disposal a few months after he passed just about did. me. in!!! But, we keep trudging alone and don't you feel proud of yourself when you HAVE accomplished a difficult task on your own? I do!!! Blessings, Cindy

  21. The trick to door knobs is AUTOMOTIVE PRIMER! Not sanding! They sell it at Lowe's. Spray your knobs with automotive primer, hit it lightly with steel wool, tack cloth and then spray it with a good quality spray paint...specifically made for metal. Then let it CURE for at least a day. I sprayed mine 4 years ago and they are still relatively chip free.
    And I own 36 apartments, change out door knobs almost weekly (I think tenants eat them!) and I have NEVER seen this problem...WTFrick!

  22. I actually love seeing the projects that don't work. I think it's great when we can learn from the mistakes/trials of others! Thanks for sharing!


  23. I am laughing because it happened to me as well, only I was locked into the basement, while my 5 month old was on the family room floor! I guess it was a mother's instinct, but I did the "police raid' kick and literally split the door in half! (picture Mr. Ed) Nice job on the door handle, I have yet to figure those things out!

  24. Is it bad to be happy that you have DIY frustrations like the rest of us humans? Lol I love seeing these kinds of posts! It sort of gives me're still my idol!! Have a happy weekend! Kathy @The Daily Nest

  25. Lady, I know that curse you speak of. While I know not to ever utter such blasphemous words while DIYing, my husband LOVES to use them. I get so upset! Why? Because every time he uses those above sentences mentioned (yes, sometimes he uses BOTH), he activates the curse and the project takes forever and / or backfires. The war begins and I usually have to sweet talk the project I am working on. Sigh.

  26. I too am an emotional reactor... that's what my husband calls it at least. I got frustrated cutting crown molding for an upstairs bathroom and ended up tossing it out of the upstairs window in to our back yard... then left it there for a week! Of course, I had to buy new molding, but I also bought a "crown cutting kit" and and angle finder, as well. So far so good... no more crown in the yard!

  27. Oh, how frustrating for you. I know the feeling of wanting to toss the whole project out the window! While reading your post and the comments, I wondered if using a tube of that graphite powder on a regular schedule would be helpful or maybe even make the problem of a sticking/jammed latch preventable? Actually, I need to buy a tube of it myself, as I noticed the key to my front door was suddenly being very uncooperative. I don't know if it would be helpful or not, but a tube of graphite would sure be an inexpensive fix.

  28. I love this post. I spent a day & a half recovering a chair seat that should take about 15 minutes. 1 of the 4 screws would NOT come out. Other 3 came out in 5 seconds. I used 4 different tools to remove that screw plus elbow grease supreme. I inherited the antique chair from my parents - that kept me from tearing it apart in frustration. I am proud of you for persevering & beating that thing!

  29. Without doubt one of "most popular artists painters 'buyers decided this picture from my memorial connected with visuals connected with west technique plus prescribed so that it is produced to provide a full-sized oil and gas painting. All of us connected with experienced actors is often completely ready with respect to these a purchase as well as a mountain lion on the group instantly ups and downs straight to steps, for the reason that she / he fails to paint spots “relating to spec” however , simply reacting with a purchaser web based order.

  30. Oh, I think I would have cried before I saw the humor in the situation! I'm one of those DIYers who prefers to have an expert nearby in case all hell breaks loose...Or doesn't break loose in this case...:)


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