Locksmithing/stuck door


QUESTION: We live in an older home (built 1927). The back door has had the same problem repeatedly. The door closes, but then when we turn the knob, the tongue will not retract out of the door frame. We have removed the knob and manually turned the mechanism using a screw driver. We have tried to wedge a knife, screwdriver, and credit card into the door jamb to manually retract the tongue. None of this works. The last time this happened, the handyman who came out used a saw to cut the tongue. We then replaced the entire door knob system. It never felt 100%, but now it won't work at all. Do you have any suggestions for 1) getting the tongue to retract so we can open the door, and 2) what we need to do so this doesn't happen again.

Many thanks for your time.

ANSWER: Hello Ruth,

What type of lock did you replace?  You said old home so it could be an old style mortise lock or it could be a newer style cylindrical lock.
What brand is the new lock?  Do you know the model number?
Does the new lock use a key?

Without more detail I can't offer any assistance.  There are too many factors involved.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for looking at my question so quickly.

I'm pretty sure it's a mortise lock. The lock does have a keyhole, but we never use the key. We use it as a knob to open and close the door and have a separate, keyed lock for security.

Do you know where I could look to find the brand and model number?

The lock is like this one

Hello Ruth,

Since you already replaced the lock with a new one and it's still doing the same thing, I'd first check the alignment of the latch (the tongue) with the door jamb and strike plate.  It may be wedged in the strike plate causing your issue.  These types of locks are not used much anymore due to their functional issues like the one you are having.  If this isn't the cause, it may be a defective lock or the lock may be binding inside the door cavity.

I'd recommend changing the lock to a modern type lock.  You can find a plate to cover the old holes and door edge at most hardware stores.  It looks something like this: http://www.acehardware.com/product/index.jsp?productId=1294662  You'll then need a standard lock and since you don't lock it, a simple passage lock should work just fine.



All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts




I do not answer Safe or automotive questions. Period. I am knowledgeable in almost every area of Locksmithing. This includes locks, keys, lost keys, residential and commercial lockouts, rekeying, masterkeying, high security locks, access control, electric locks, security cameras and home safety. I have been running an online business since 2004 where I sell all types of lock and security hardware to everyone from apartment renters to business owners to the US government. Before that I started a locksmith service in 1999. I deal with many types of security equipment including high security safe locks, heavy duty padlocks, exit devices, biometric readers, electric strikes, magnetic locks, full surface hinges and I only sell what I personally stand behind 100%. The online business has given me a more in-depth look at the locksmithing industry, helping me to learn more about each and every product that I offer, as well as products I don't have but end up finding for customers to solve any issues they have with security or door hardware.

Please don't submit any automotive or safe questions as these aren't areas that I can help in.


I have been Locksmithing since 1999 and own my own Locksmithing business. I have many years of hands-on experience through the many services I have performed for my customers. I've run my business the way I wanted, treating everyone as I would like to be treated and knowing that any customer could be my last if I didn't perform my locksmithing duties as I had promised.

I have a diploma in Masterkeying, Advanced Locksmithing & Locksmithing from Foley-Belsaw.

Past/Present Clients
US government, colleges, schools, city and state governments, large and small corporations, home owners.

©2017 About.com. All rights reserved.