How to Replace an Entry Door Handle Set or Lock Set

Problem: The entry door, door knob/lever/door handle thumb release does not move the latch bolt enough to allow entry without excessive force.

Solution: Let’s start with the door knob/lever. You are finding yourself applying excessive force to turn the knob or lever and the latch bolt, the metal piece that sticks into the door frame to keep the door shut, does not travel as far as it used to. Sometimes you are finding yourself pushing with your hip to disengage the latch bolt. The internal parts of the lockset are worn. To replace the internal parts would require hiring a locksmith, paying out a lot of money and still having an old lockset with new parts. The best solution is to replace the lockset yourself.

Step 1. What type of lockset do you have? Is the locking mechanism part of the door handle? Do you have a separate dead bolt assembly? Is the dead bolt “double keyed” – does it require a key inside and outside? Do you have a “handle set” – A long handle on the outside that uses a thumb lever to open the door? Is your front entry a single or double door? If you have a double door, is there a matching non functioning handle set (or door knob – dead bolt set etc.) on the second door? Determine your needs and write them down. If you have a camera or a phone with a camera, take a close up picture of both the inside and outside of the lock sets. Next take some measurements. Measure the distance from the non-hinged side on the door to the center of the knob (on a dead bolt – to the center of the lock). This distance will be either 2 3/8” or 2 3/4”. NOTE: If your lockset is over 2 3/4” you will need to order a special lockset. Take your exact measurements to the special order desk at the local home center and they will be able to help. Measure the thickness of the door. If you have a long handle set on the outside – measure from the center of the latch bolt to the center of the screw holding the bottom of the handle to the door. This is important so you won’t have to patch holes on your door.

Step 2. Now that you are armed with your pictures and measurements it is time to head to the Home Center. When you arrive – review all your options, style, finish, single or double cylinders, electronic keypad, remote control etc. Now ask to speak to the expert in the lockset department – discuss your decisions with this person and get his input on what you have chosen. Before you leave the store – Do you need the new lockset keyed to match your other exterior locking doors at your house? This is the time to have your new lockset re-keyed. Also do you need additional keys?

Step 3. Ok, you have followed all the advice above. You have all your new hardware. You have your basic hand tools laid out (the instruction manual for the new hardware will tell you what tools you will need). Before you begin, lay out all the parts of the assembly, start with one lockset at a time. Do not mix up the different parts of the different locksets. Remove one knob set or dead bolt at a time. NOTE: There are several ways the door handles are attached: the first is 2 visible screws, the next may require an Allen wrench, look for a set screw on the underside of the knob or handle. Another option is a press-release, this will look like a small rectangular shaped hole on the underside of the knob or handle (insert a screwdriver blade and pull the handle off). After determining the proper way of removing the lockset, remove the inside and outside handles, (or dead bolt assembly). Now remove the slide bolt assembly, this is accomplished by removing the two screws at the edge of the door and sliding out the assembly. Compare the old slide bolt assembly with the replacement assembly, adjust the new assembly so that the new unit is the same length as the old one. Slide the new assembly into the existing hole on the door; make sure the assembly marked “top” is facing up. Insert the new screws into the door and tighten. Now following the instructions provided attach the new handle set and tighten the holding screws. Make sure the handles turn freely and that the slide bolt moves without restriction. Repeat as needed for all the locksets. Replace the old strike plates with the new ones provided. Your new lockset are ready to use.