• Repairing and Replacing Exterior Door Locks


    There are many reasons why homeowners change their exterior door locks including moving into a home, broken or loose locks, the desire for something more secure and wanting to update the style. Whatever your reasons are, the tips in this house repairs guide will help with the work, whether you do it yourself or hire a pro for the work.
    Of course, if you love your locks but want to have the tumblers changed to require new keys, your local hardware or locksmith should be able to help you with a job that requires specialty tools and parts.
    We also supply a few tips for repairing locks that don’t work properly, so all sides of the issue are covered.

    Exterior Door Lock Tips for Repair and Replacement

    We start with tips focusing on repairing and replacing the exterior locks. They’ll assist you in deciding whether or not you want to tackle the work yourself. We list the costs you might incur as well as the tools and materials that will be required for the repair or replacement. Tips for saving money are included, and the last section is a list of resources you’ll find very helpful.

    • Loose locks can be snugged up with a screwdriver
    • If they don’t get tighter, the threads are likely stripped and the door handle should be replaced
    • Sticky locks can be eased with lubricate spray, graphite powder, white lithium powder or oils made specifically for locks
    • Avoid household oil for lubricating locks because it will collect dust and dirt, eventually making the problem worse
    • Use the graphite powder sparingly, and consider wearing a dust mask while applying it
    • When you don’t have graphite powder on hand, color all sides of a key with a pencil – the “lead” is graphite – and slip the key into the sticky lock to lubricate it
    • When you want to change the lock, begin by removing the bolts from the old one and removing the lock and door handle
    • Don’t remove the latch assembly at this time, because the new handle and lock might work with it and save you hassle
    • Consider taking the lock with you to a hardware or home improvement store to find a suitable replacement of the same general size and setback
    • If the new lock requires that you use it’s latch assembly, remove the screws of the old one and slide the assembly out of the door
    • You might have to increase the space where the latch assembly seats by tracing around it and removing material carefully with a wood chisel and hammer or a small rotary grinder such as a Dremel tool
    • Install the screws for the latch assembly
    • If the screw holes don’t line up, fill the old holes with toothpicks dipped in wood glue and snapped off flush
    • Drill new latch assembly screw pilot holes and install the screws
    • Check to see if the new handle and lock fits properly through the latch assembly
    • If it doesn’t, the setback on the assembly must be adjusted by following the directions supplied with the lock
    • Adding a deadbolt to an existing door is a moderately difficult DIY job that requires experience to look good and function properly

    Exterior Door Lock Repair and Replacement Costs

    Here are ballpark figures for doing the work yourself or hiring someone for the job.

    DIY door lock repair and replacement: These are the tools and materials needed to do the work and what they cost.

    • Phillips screwdriver or cordless driver: $2 to $30
    • Spray lubricant: $9 to $12 a can
    • New exterior door handle with lock: $25 to $150 depending on style and quality

    Professional door lock repair and replacement: Handymen and locksmiths often do this type of work. They might charge a minimum service fee to come to your home, and the fee is typically $40 to $125. That fee might cover the cost of a single door lock replacement, but if the seat for the latch assembly needs to be widened, the cost might be higher.
    The cost to install a deadbolt lock or install locks in a new wood door without openings averages $125 to $175 when you supply the locks/handles.

    How to Save Money on Exterior Door Lock Replacement

    Call several companies in your area to receive estimates for the work. Among the contractors to call include locksmiths, door specialists and handyman services.

    DIY Exterior Door Lock Repair and Replacement Resources

    Top Home Security Info – Excellent tips and video on installing various types of door locks are available from this local home security company’s site.

    Fixing Screens – This site supplies good information on replacing sliding glass door locks.

    YouTube – This video from a home inspection company offers an excellent overview of door lock replacement.


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