The handleset is a version of a doorknob mechanism with a lever or handle instead of a knob on the exterior side. It might have a handle or a standard doorknob on the inside. Replacement parts for similar models are standardized and typically fit right into the empty holes. The replacement procedure is much the same for most types, including Pella, but models differ. It's wise to consult the product instructions to get a handle on things before you begin.

Check the Backset

The backset is the distance from the edge of the door to the center of the bore hole for the doorknob assembly. Most handlesets are compatible with the two standardized backset dimensions of 2 3/8 or 2 3/4 inches. Some models have adjustable latch assemblies, while many simply have two sets of holes to accommodate the different backsets. Just make sure your new handleset works for your door's backset.

A Few Differences

Handlesets are mostly interchangeable, and some manufacturers include a few extra parts to make it easier for them to adapt to existing doors.

  • Bushing or plate: Some models may include a bushing instead of a face plate on the latch assembly. The 3/4-inch bushing replaces the mortised-in face plate.
  • Square or rounded: There are two types of plates available; one has square corners, the other rounded corners. Some manufacturers include them both in the kit. It's smart to check before purchasing.
  • Face plates: The decorative plate or escutcheon for the lockset is typically circular on sets with standard doorknobs. Handleset face plates are larger, typically rectangular and have a mounting screw at the base.

How to Remove a Door Handle

Step 1

Remove the screws from the face plate behind the handle on the exterior side of the door, using a screwdriver or drill/driver. There may be only one mounting screw at the base of the plate. Remove all screws from the lever or doorknob on the inside.

Step 2

Grasp the interior knob or lever with one hand. Grasp the exterior handle with the other hand. Wiggle and pull on both at the same time to separate them. Pull them off the door.

Step 3

Remove two screws securing the face plate of the latch assembly on the edge of the door. The latch cylinder is attached to the plate and comes out with the plate. If the plate is stuck inside a shallow mortise, pry it out with a screwdriver.

Step 4

Remove the two screws securing the strike plate on the door jamb. Remove the strike plate from the jamb.

Replacing the Handle

Step 5

Insert the new latch assembly into the bore hole in the edge of the door. Make sure the latch bolt is facing in the proper direction; the curved side of the latch bolt should face the strike plate on the jamb as the door is closed. Secure the latch assembly's face plate to the door with the two screws provided in the kit.

Step 6

Place the exterior handle on the door by inserting the spindle or axle on the handle through the latch cylinder at 90 degrees. Place the corresponding doorknob or lever on the interior side of the door, fitting the two parts together. It should feel slightly snug when the two parts join.

Step 7

Insert two long screws through the face plate or escutcheon on each side of the interior doorknob or lever. Tighten the screws snugly, pulling the interior and exterior pieces together. Install any mounting screws on the exterior face plate, as applicable.

Step 8

Screw the strike plate to the jamb, inside the shallow mortise. Skip this step if you decided to leave the old plate intact.

Test It

Shut the door. If it sticks or binds, make sure the latch face plate is flush with the door edge and doesn't rub against the strike plate on the jamb. If the latch bolt isn't properly aligned with the hole in the strike plate, remove the strike plate and use a chisel to extend the mortise in the direction needed to realign the bolt with the hole -- it shouldn't require much. Screw the plate back on and test the fit.

Lever Only

If you break a lever -- it happens -- some models allow you to switch out only the lever, without removing any other hardware. Look for a small hole or oval-shaped opening on the shaft of the lever. Insert a paper clip, screwdriver or other small pointed tool into the hole and push to depress a small spring-loaded pin. The lever should slip off. If it contains a setscrew, use a hex wrench to loosen it, slip the old lever off, and install a new one, reversing the procedure.