Q&A / 

Deadbolt Hard to Turn

Terry Shirley has a deadbolt lock in his Asheboro, NC  home that's hard to turn. Here's his story and he's sticking to it:

"I have a sticky deadbolt on my front door and I know it's not the catch plate, because it's sticky with the door open.

I have tried WD-40 and graphite. Neither worked.

I have also watched your videos on the subject. Short of calling a locksmith, I don't know what else to do. Is there any hope for me to fix this myself?"

This is Terry's deadbolt. You can see the bolt sticking out of the edge of the door. Photo credit: Terry Shirley

This is Terry's deadbolt. You can see the bolt sticking out of the edge of the door. Photo credit: Terry Shirley

Here's my answer:

Terry, good news! There's a great chance you can fix this yourself.

When a deadbolt is hard to turn as you describe and it's not even near the striker plate in the door jamb, it's almost always an issue of the two holes that were drilled in the door.

It's usually easy to remove the deadbolt from the door. That's what you need to do to diagnose the problem.

On the inside of the door, there may be two screws in the face of the deadbolt that will allow you to disengage the lock from the latch mechanism. On the edge of the door you'll see the two screws that hold the latch in. You can't remove the latch until you take the two halves of the deadbolt off the door.


Here's what a deadbolt looks like outside of the door. CLICK the image to buy NEW deadbolt locks. Image credit: Amazon.com

Once the lock is off the door, put it back together as best you can. What you want to do is have a helper hold it while you try to operate it. If it moves smoothly, then you know it's the holes in the door.

Look at the image here to see what you'll have once you remove the parts and reassemble them.

You should start with the smaller hole in the edge of the door. Ninety-five percent of the time this hole is causing the binding. You may just have to enlarge it a very small amount to get the latch to go back and forth with ease.

Please report back with what happened! CLICK HERE to purchase new high-quality deadbolt locks.


5 Responses to Deadbolt Hard to Turn

  1. Hey Tim,

    1. I'm a "him", not a "her".

    2. I already get your newsletter.

    3. I will try your suggestions and see what happens. However, the door is VERY old and the screw holes are pretty well shot. I'll let you know how this turns out.

    Thank you very much!!!

    Terry Shirley

    • Terry, as Kip said while drinking a shake in the Napoleon Dynamite movie, "I'm a little POd. She's not sent me a full body shot."

      Thus it's hard to tell sex from some names unless you have a photo.

      I've known quite a few female "Terrys", so I just assumed it was a woman.

      Give us all a full report once you take it all apart.

  2. It's possible Terry and others will be confused by your suggestion to enlarge the smaller hole in the edge of the door. His answer suggests that he might attempt to enlarge one or both of the screw holes in the edge of the door (smaller holes) and not the one inch latch hole (larger hole in the edge of the door).

    Obviously enlargeing the screw holes makes no sense, but I have seen repairs by college educated people that defy all logic because they don't have a clue how something functions.

  3. Tim:
    Might I be so bold as to recommend she replace the key type deadbolt with a lever type in case the key is not readily available in an emergency.
    Keep it stretched and on the iron!!!

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