With most storm door handle problems, the best fix is a quick and inexpensive replacement. For a few simple problems, though, you might not have to go that far. A little troubleshooting can go a long way toward getting your storm door operating correctly again and can save you few bucks.
Latch Has to Be Lifted to Open
If you have to lift the latch to open the door, it's possible that the latch is install upside down. Storm door handles typically open by pushing down. Check the installation instructions for a picture of the handle and compare to be sure it is right side up. If you need to reverse the latch installation:
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- Remove the handle by taking out the retaining screws, usually two located at the top and bottom of the inside handle.
- Turn the handle over and, if necessary, reverse the latch nose.
- Replace the handle and reinsert and tighten the retaining screws.
The Door Handle Won't Latch
A door that closes partially or all the way and does not latch may have a problem with the door closer, the striker, or the door handle.
- Check to be sure the door closer is pulling the door complete closed. The hold-open washer sometimes binds, causing the door to remain partially open.
- Adjust the striker plate, which will have two screws mounted in adjustable slots. Loosen the screws, reposition the striker and retighten the screws. Test and readjust to get a perfect close. You want the door closed tight, but you should not have to pull.
- Replace the handle if the striker and closer seem to be in working order. Purchase a similar model and follow the directions provided.
The Handle Comes Off or Is Loose
A handle that's loose or falling off usually just needs to have its screws tightened, or possibly replaced. Tighten any screws that are loose, using a standard screwdriver; it's too easy to overtighten screws with a drill or power screwdriver. If any screws are missing, replace them with matching screws. Install new screws and make sure they are tight. If your handle is painted, you may want spray paint to touch up the screw heads to match.
Be sure to take one of the original screws with you to the hardware store so you can get a perfect match. Purchase stainless steel screws to prevent rust.
Before trying the steps below, check to see if the button sticks when the door is open. If it doesn't, adjust your striker, following the step described above, and retest the button. If the sticking is persistent:
- Loosen your retaining screws. If the screws are overly tight, they can put pressure on the handle and cause it to malfunction. Loosen them a half-turn and try again. Be sure not to loosen too much.
- Flip the button spring. The button handle has a spring that is roughly cone-shaped. If the small end of the spring is toward the door, it may slip into the door hole and bind.
- Remove the handle and check to make sure the large end of the spring is facing toward the door.