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Know Your Front-Door Lockset

We asked, and you told us that what most needs fixing in your house is your front-door lockset. So here's a handy guide to help you know what you can repair yourself and when you need to call a locksmith

Key to a Safe Home

Illustration by Harry Campbell

We asked, and you told us that what most needs fixing in your house is your front-door lockset. So here's a handy guide to help you know what you can repair yourself and when you need to call a locksmith

Cylinder Lock

Illustration by Harry Campbell

Turns with correct key, freeing knob to retract latch bolt.

Keyway

Illustration by Harry Campbell

Slot in cylinder for key.

If key doesn't turn smoothly, degrease with electrical contact cleaner, then spray with graphite or Teflon. Insert key and turn several times. Lubricate at start of summer and winter. If it seizes up, call locksmith.

Key

Illustration by Harry Campbell

Opens lock only if notches correctly align with series of spring-loaded pins in cylinder.

If newly cut key doesn't turn smoothly, hold over candle to cover in soot. Insert in lock, turn, and remove. Gently file down shiny spots where soot rubs off. If older key has worn peaks, time for lock to be replaced.

Rosette

Illustration by Harry Campbell

Decorative cover (also called rose or escutcheon).

If loose, tighten mounting bolts.

Chassis

Illustration by Harry Campbell

Protects lock from tampering if rosette is pried off.

Mounting Bolts

Illustration by Harry Campbell

Holds chassis together.

Tighten if lockset is loose.

Knob Retainer Hole

Illustration by Harry Campbell

Push stiff wire in hole and turn key to remove knob.

Spring

Illustration by Harry Campbell

Returns knobs to neutral position.

If knob has no resistance, spring may be broken, requiring locksmith or new lockset.

Faceplate

Illustration by Harry Campbell

Secures latch assembly to mortise in door.

Latch Bolt

Illustration by Harry Campbell

Engages strike when door is shut, keeping door from swinging open.

Spindle

Illustration by Harry Campbell

Connects knobs and retracts latch bolt when knobs are turned.

Dead Latch Plunger

Illustration by Harry Campbell

Engages latch bolt to prevent it from being pried open from outside.

Mounting Trim Screws

Illustration by Harry Campbell

Secure faceplate to door and strike to jamb. If holes are stripped, fill with matchsticks and glue and let dry before resetting screws.

Strike

Illustration by Harry Campbell

Reinforces latch mortise in jamb.

If latch doesn't catch, tighten mounting screws, reposition, or replace with adjustable strike. If door rattles, slightly bend out small tab on opening.