How to Fix a Push-Button Doorknob That Won't Lock

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Bathroom and bedroom doors often have privacy locksets with a push-button door handle lock. When you push the button, it engages the lock, and when you turn the handle, the button automatically retracts and unlocks the door. When the push-button door lock is not working and the button won't stay in, your bathroom or bedroom door won't lock.

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This usually happens because the catch tab inside the lock is misaligned, but it could also be broken. You might be able to fix it, but even if you do, the problem might happen again. It's worth a try, but since indoor privacy locks are inexpensive and easy to install, you might want to consider replacing the lock.

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Simple Fix Options

If the lock mechanism is misaligned, you may be able to correct the misalignment without removing the knob. The simplest strategy is to turn the knob repeatedly while you push the button. If the button is misaligned, this should help it to realign. If that doesn't work, you can try another trick, and for this, you'll need a fairly beefy paper clip.

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Straighten out the paper clip and insert it through the hole in the knob of the side of the door opposite the knob with the button. This is how you unlock the door in case of emergency. With the paper clip inserted as far as it will go, try pushing the button. You should feel pressure on the paper clip, so hold it loosely and jiggle it while you push the button and turn the knob repeatedly. That should get the button to realign. If not, some lubrication may help, and to do this, you'll have to disassemble the doorknob.

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Remove and Lubricate the Doorknob

If you see screws on either of the doorknob faceplates (these doorknob parts are known as rosettes), disassemble the knob by unscrewing them with a Phillips screwdriver and separating the knobs. If you don't see any screws, look for a small tab on the shank between one of the knobs and the rosette, and if you see one, depress it with a flat-head screwdriver, pull off the knob, and then pull the other knob from the opposite side. If you don't see any tab or screws, pry off the rosette on the side of the door with the button to reveal the screws.

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Once the knobs are separated, you can lubricate the button by squirting some graphite lubricant. You should also squirt some onto the latch mechanism that is still inside the door. This should help free the button if it has gotten stuck, but it's a long-shot repair strategy. If it works, yay! If it doesn't, your best option is to replace the knob if you want the lock to work.

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Replace the Doorknob

You've gotten the knobs separated, so the rest of the procedure for removing the old doorknob is easy. Just unscrew the latch strike from the edge of the door and pull out the latch mechanism. When you go to the store to buy a replacement, try to find an identical doorknob from the same manufacturer, but if you can't, any interior privacy lockset will work.

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To install the new lockset, slide the latch mechanism into the side of the door as far as it will go and then drive the screws that come with the lockset to hold the latch plate to the door. One of the knobs has a spindle; insert that through the hole in the latch plate and push the rosette against the side of the door. Slip the other knob onto the spindle, push it against the door, and screw the two knobs together using the machine screws that are provided.

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