Door Latch Won’t Retract? (Quick Fixes)

Door Latch Won’t Retract? (Quick Fixes)

Do you have a door that won’t open or close properly? Is your door latch stuck in the closed position, or does it keep slipping out of its catch when you try to turn it? If so, then it’s time for some DIY repairs.

In this blog post, we will explain why door latches fail and provide you with several possible ways to fix them when it happens. We will also talk about what to do to prevent this from happening again to your door lock. No matter what kind of problem you’re facing with your door latch mechanism, this guide should help you find a permanent solution quickly and easily.

Ready to figure this problem out? Let’s dig right in!

How to fix the door latch won’t retract?

The Importance of Having a Door Latch (and One that Works Properly!)

The latch on a door is a crucial component of its security system. It holds the door closed, preventing unwanted access to your room, home, or business. A faulty latch can mean a higher risk of break-ins.

That’s why it’s important to figure out what’s causing a door latch to not function as it should. A door latch that isn’t working properly can cause a lot of unnecessary frustration, and no one wants to live like that for very long.

Why Do Door Latches Fail?

Let’s look at why door latches stick in the first place.

A door latch that fails to work can be stuck in a couple of different positions. It may be stuck in the closed position and won’t retract back into the door handle (and so is stuck inside the strike place on the door frame) or it may be stuck inside the door handle mechanism itself and won’t allow the door to latch closed at all.

Regardless of the position, door latches can fail for many reasons, so here are a few of them that happen the most often:

Why Do Door Latches Fail?

1. Misalignment

If the strike plate is misaligned relative to the door latch, then it can cause a lot of friction between the two parts. This will ensure that the door latch won’t retract back into its catch correctly when you turn the handle.

2. Broken Mechanism

The inside of your door lock mechanism may also be broken. Sometimes the latch bolt or spindle can become bent, broken, or just not work correctly anymore. This is the case sometimes when people are especially hard on the door handle, wrenching it roughly or banging it when they open and close the door.

3. Sticky Latch

Sometimes the issue is simply a sticky latch. A jammed door latch can happen if there is too much grime and gunk build up inside from dirt and dust over time. All of that buildup keeps the metal in the latch from sliding as smoothly as it was made to slide.

Ways to Fix Door When the Door Latch Won’t Retract

Ways to Fix Door When the Door Latch Won't Retract

Once you’ve identified the cause of your door handle issue, you can begin working on a fix. Here are some potential solutions:


If the door latch seems to keep getting stuck, try using lubricants like WD-40 to reduce any friction that may be preventing your latch from working properly. This can be sprayed into the crevice of your door handle and latch bolt to help them move more freely.

Tap the Door Latch

If the latch seems to get stuck part way out, you may want to try using a hammer to gently tap the latch in the opposite direction in hopes that it will loosen up the mechanism. Be careful not to hit it too hard, as this could damage the latch and make the problem worse.

Tighten or Loosen the Screws

It may come down to a loose door knob or door handle. Use a screwdriver to tighten or loosen the screws on the door latch and/or handle so that it will work better. This can take a couple of tries, so check your work regularly.

Vinegar and Water

For anything that is stuck due to grime buildup, mix some vinegar and water to make a cleaning solution. Apply this to the door latch and let it sit for a few minutes before wiping off with a cloth or paper towel. This should help loosen up any build-up that is causing friction between the parts.

Credit Card Trick

If the door latch is stuck in the closed position, try using a credit card to pry it open. Insert the credit card into the crack between your door frame and the latch and slide it up until you can push the latch back in with your finger. This, however, is only a short-term fix, as it will get your door open but won’t actually stop the problem from happening again.

Move the Strike Plate

If the door latch and handle are aligned correctly but still won’t work, you may need to adjust the strike plate. As a quick reminder, the strike plate is the metal plate that is screwed into the door frame, and so it should line up with the latch.

If it is slightly off-center, you can use a drill to move it slightly up or down (or in or out) so that it lines up properly with the door latch. If you need to move it quite a bit, you’ll need a few more tools and instructions to fix the problem. But if a misaligned strike plate is the issue, this can help reduce friction between the two parts and allow your door handle to retract easily.

Replacement Parts

In some cases, you may need replacement parts for your door latch. Visit your local hardware store or locksmith to find the replacement parts you need. This will ensure that you get the right parts for your door latch and can help avoid any future rust or other problems due to incorrect measurements.

Call a Locksmith or Carpenter

If the cause of your door latch issue is more complicated, such as wood expansion or a severely broken mechanism, you may want to call a professional locksmith or carpenter. They have higher quality lock products and tools, as well as more knowledge about these kinds of issues, and they can help make sure that your door latch gets the proper maintenance it needs for a permanent fix.

Keep in mind that if you are unsure of the cause of the problem, you may want to consult with a locksmith or carpenter regardless – before attempting any repairs on your own. They can help diagnose and troubleshoot the issue before you start drilling or hammering into anything, as this may cause more damage to your door latch.

Preventing Further Issues with Your Door Latch in the Future

Preventing Further Issues with Your Door Latch in the Future

Now that you know how to fix a door latch when it won’t retract, it’s important to take preventative measures if you want less maintenance and longer lasting door latch.

Things you can do to help keep your door latch in good condition include:

  • Regularly lubricating the metal parts of the door latch with WD-40 or other lubricants
  • Keeping an eye on the screws and making sure they stay tight so the door handle doesn’t become loose
  • Getting higher quality lock products so there will be less maintenance required over time
  • Making sure to regularly clean your door latches and handles using vinegar and water
  • Taking good care of your door handle, rather than roughly maneuvering the hardware while opening and closing the door
  • Checking for any wood expansion around the screw holes in your door frame, as this can cause the mechanism inside of your lock body to become stuck over time
  • Doing routine maintenance and inspections on your door latch to make sure the spring-loaded pins or plunger are functioning correctly
  • Replacing the doorknob before it gets too old, sticky, or damaged

By taking these preventive measures, you can keep any further problems at bay with your door latch and avoid having to pay a lot of money hiring a local locksmith.


There you have it! Everything you needed to know about why your door latch won’t retract and what you can do to fix it.

When your door latch won’t retract, there are many possible causes and solutions that you can try before replacing the whole thing. Taking some preventive steps such as starting with a higher quality lock, regularly cleaning and lubricating your door latch, and avoiding too much force when opening or closing the door can help you to avoid these issues in the future. If all else fails, you can always call a local locksmith for help.

With some patience and effort, you’ll get that door latch working again in no time! We have full faith in you.

After reading this blog post, what seems to be the problem with your door latch? Let us know in the comments below and what you plan to do to fix it. We’re here to help!

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