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Schlage Door Latch Won’t Retract (8 Quick Fixes)

schlage door latch won’t retract
Last Updated on April 5, 2023
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When a Schlage door latch won't retract, or any brand really, it is a security risk that needs to be addressed immediately. Door latches are an everyday essential that we don't think much about until it fails to perform as expected.

The latch is how the door opens or stays closed, so we want it to work perfectly. Whether you have little knowledge of the inner workings of locks or just need some ideas, we can help you out.

When your Schlage door latch won't retract here's what is usually wrong:

  • Basic Latch Jam
  • Misaligned strike plate
  • Broken Mechanism

Why Your Schlage Door Latch Won't Retract

Let's help you identify what exactly is causing your latch to not retract. It would be nice if you can get an idea of where the issue lies beforehand so you hopefully save some time.

Jammed Door Latch

A jam is the easiest to fix and can be fairly common with older latches that get alot of use. Check for a jam by putting pressure on one side at a time while attempting to retract it.

If you are able to get it working by pushing it either way, it's a basic jam. When it works while it's open, but not when closed, it's probably the strike plate.

Misaligned Strike Plate

Closely inspect the latch and plate when the door is closing. Look for any noticeable gaps between the door and the frame, or any unevenness where the latch and strike plate meet.

Open and close the door several times, paying attention to any resistance, difficulty, or unusual noises. If the door latch doesn't engage or disengage smoothly, it may indicate a misaligned strike plate.

Broken Latch Mechanism

What you don't like to see is the latch not retracting at all, opened or closed, or when the door knob just spinning. This could be a sign of stripped or broken parts that will need to be replaced.

If it's not a basic jam, a wonky strike plate, or loose screws,  you may have some internal damage to the spindle or plunger mechanism.

We have pictures and descriptions to help you identify the parts of a door lock when you are not sure what each one is called. This can be useful when locating a damaged part and searching for replacements.

How to Fix Schlage Door Latch Not Retracting: 8 Solutions

1. Tighten Loose Screws

It's best to check the easy stuff before you get to the solutions that take more effort. The last time I had a sticky door latch, I found the screws had just loosened due to normal use. Tighten the screws fully and test it.

Whether the latch was just installed or has been heavily used, it still is a good idea to be certain all the screws on the hand are tight. When the handle or latch is not fully stable it can cause tension in the strike plate hole, or the latch assembly.

2. The Hammer Method

A popular and quick fix if it is jammed, is to give the latch a couple hits with a hammer. Hold the door open and start gently hitting, using controlled taps. Up the power a bit if necessary, but don't get wild as you can cause yourself even more issues.

This could be a temporary fix if you just need to get it working for now. However, if the internal mechanism is worn, it may only last a while. If the old hammer trick did the trick, I would still consider checking the rest of these solutions to help make it a more permanent fix.

3. Clean and Lubricate the Latch

Sometimes, all that stands between you and a smoothly functioning door is a little lubrication. Over time, the internal components may become dry or clogged with debris, causing your latch to stick.

Check the strike plate hole, and between the plungers themselves. Use compressed air or a brush to get rid of any noticeable build-up. A quick application of lubricant can also work wonders. Grab a silicone-based lubricant, a graphite powder, or even a household item like WD-40.

Apply it directly to the latch and work it back and forth until it operates smoothly. This might be just what your stubborn door needs to regain its composure. Lubricating your locks can help prevent damage and keep things working nicely.

4. Adjust the Strike Plate

If cleaning and lubrication don't do the trick, the next thing to consider is the strike plate. If it's misaligned or installed too tightly, it can prevent the latch from retracting properly.

Use a screwdriver to loosen the screws on the strike plate, adjust its position slightly, and then tighten the screws. Test the door, and repeat until you get the latch to retract smoothly. If not, try making further adjustments until you find the sweet spot.

If the strike plate is slightly off, you can use a metal file to enlarge the hole in the strike plate so that the latch can pass through without getting stuck. Be careful not to remove too much material, as this can weaken the strike plate.

5. Examine the Door and Frame

When your strike plate is in order, but the latch is still sticking, it could be an issue with the door frame. Checking the frame is a great idea before moving on to take the lock off for inspection.

Take a step back to get a good look, and see if there is a larger gap on the top or bottom of the door. Look for signs of warping, swelling, or other obstructions in the door or frame. If you find any, address these issues by sanding down high spots, and adjusting the door hinges.

If there is a major issue in the frame, the latch may not properly work until it's fully straightened. There could have been recent damage that should be easy to identify.

6. Inspect and Repair the Latch Mechanism

If the issue persists, it's time to take a closer look at the latch mechanism itself. Remove the doorknob or lever to expose the latch assembly. Inspect it for signs of damage, wear, or misalignment inside.

The spindle is the long bar that comes out of the handle and rotates the latch via the knob. Inspect is and make sure that it is nice and straight

If you spot any of these issues, try repairing or replacing the affected parts. This may involve bending a latch component back into shape, replacing a broken spring, or even replacing the entire latch assembly.

7. Replace the Lock

If you find a major issue with the internal lock mechanism, or the lock is just old, consider replacing the lock. If none of the other options worked, your time put into trying to repair may not be worth it.

If it is a main door to your home or a property you own, I would recommend at least taking a look at our choices for the best smart locks. I feel high-quality locks that give you peace of mind are worth every penny.

8. Consult a Professional

If you think it needs replaced, or feel it will be too much hassle for you to repair, reach out to a professional locksmith or door installer for assistance. This is ideal if you have an expensive lock that is worth fixing right, or if you want a new one replaced professionally.

Keep in mind the cost of the lock and if you could possibly do it yourself, as it won't likely be cheap. Here is the average Locksmith price, just so can you gauge what you might pay. Prices will, of course, vary in different areas so be sure to get an estimate before allowing any work to be done.

Summing It Up

When your Schlage door latch is not retracting you can usually fix it yourself. These solutions work with any basic door latch model and can save you some time and money with little effort.

Worst case scenario this should have helped you identify a bigger problem with the frame, or realize the latch is shot. Whatever you ran into, we hope this helped ease the process and gets your door secure again.

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