What to Do When Your Kwikset Door Latch Won't Retract [Quick Fix]

Jessica Stone
by Jessica Stone
Are you having issues latching your door? Or maybe the latch keeps getting stuck? Kwikset latches can fail to retract for several reasons, such as a misaligned strike plate. Whether it be the strike plate or a jam, let’s take a look at what you can do when your Kwikset latch won’t retract.

Is your Kwikset door latch stuck and are you experiencing retraction issues? With a compromised door latch, your daily routine becomes distrusted and your privacy severely diminished. It’s important that you find a solution as quick as possible and also a way to fix it that will prevent the issue from reoccurring.

Regardless of your particular door latch issue, you need to find an answer to have your door operating properly again. The most common reasons for an issue like this are either a misaligned strike plate, jammed latch or broken internal mechanism.

We’ve outlined all the steps you should take in order to easily troubleshoot the problem. With the information you gather and the common problems we’ve defined, you’ll be able to diagnose and fix your Kwikset latch that won’t retract.

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Troubleshooting a Kwikset Latch that Won’t Retract

In order to understand how to fix the issue, you need to know why the door latch is stuck in the first place. There are many varying ways a door latch can be stuck and unable to retract. It may be fixed in the open or closed position, and the reasons for each will vary.

Your first task is to troubleshoot the problem to get a sense of the particular symptoms that your door latch is experiencing. Follow these steps:

With your door shut, try opening the door.

  • With your door shut, try opening the door.
  • Pay close attention to the type of resistance you’re experiencing. Here are some things to look out for:
  • More force than usual is required to turn the knob and release the latch.The knob or handle needs to be wiggled to unstick the latch.Even when the knob is turned, the latch still will not retract.Before rotating the knob, the door latch is not already extended.The knob or handle will not turn to retract the stuck door latch.

  • Now that the door is open, with the door handle, try to trigger the latch turning the knob and simulate opening or closing the door.
  • If the door does not open completely, you can try shimming the latch to allow it to retract enough to open the door. If this doesn’t work, you may decide to call a professional locksmith to help assist you.
  • Take note of the similarities or differences related to the resistance. Consider:

    Are you experiencing proper movement of the latch when the door is open?Is the door latch still stuck in place?Is manipulating the door handle differently not making a difference in the latch retraction?

  • Using your finger, press on the latch itself. Do not manipulate the door handle.
  • How does the latch move when you place the pressure and when it’s released? For instance:

    Needs to be jiggled to unstick the latch.When manual pressure is applied, the door latch has no retraction issues.Some pressure allows it to retract.Moves in easily with pressure but springs back out slowly or not at all.

  • Move on to diagnose your particular issue.

Diagnosing a Kwikset Latch that Won’t Retract

With the evidence you obtained from your troubleshooting methods, you now have the proper insight into what may be going wrong with your Kwikset latch. Examine the most common possible reasons your latch won’t retract that we’ve outlined below. Using these and your observations, you should be able to properly diagnose and fix the problem.

A Misaligned Strike Plate

The problem – If you noticed that your latch is stuck and won’t retract only when you’re trying to open a closed door, it’s likely that you have a misaligned strike plate. Physically, when you are attempting to retract the latch into the designated hole of the strike plate, the latch is not landing perfectly in the hole.

It could be in the wrong position because it was never properly installed originally. However, it’s most likely occurring due to moisture inflating the wood of your door or the overall foundation of your home is not secure. An issue like this will likely reoccur annually or a few times throughout the year.

The solution – For a short-term fix, you can adjust the strike plate so that it is more properly aligned with the structure of your Kwikset latch. This can be achieved easily by marking the point on your frame where the latch is landing. Based on this, you’ll either need to widen the hole or remove the strike and re-install it in a more appropriate position.

If you’re in need of a more permanent fix, you will need to do the steps outlined above first and then some additional action for the wider problem. If you’re experiencing wood expansion, consider redoing the finish of your door to prevent moisture. However, if it’s an issue with your foundation, you may want to contact a professional about the possibility of rescuing it.

A Jammed Latch

The problem – If your retraction problem is caused by a jammed latch, the issue will typically be present when the handle is turned and when physical pressure is placed on the latch. The issue itself has nothing to do with the door or the control of the knob. Instead, it involves an excess of materials inside the mechanism and obstructed spring tensioning.

Because of moisture, rust can build up in the lock and the latch bolt. If the door latch won’t retract because of accumulated rust, the internal system jams as the extra materials get in the way of proper functionality. The metal pieces attempting to slide past each other will cause unnecessary friction and the associated gunk can disrupt movement of the springs.

The solution – If you’re experiencing a jammed latch because of buildup of unnecessary materials, you’ll want to begin by taking everything apart and giving the lock a good cleaning. Dunk the mechanisms into vinegar and let them sit to allow the dirt and grime to separate from the metal. Depending on the extent of the gunk, it may require some scrubbing with a tiny brush.

Additionally, It’s important to properly polish the lock after cleaning to help prevent a similar rust issue from reoccurring. Seal any small imperfections from future rust by using car wax.

A Broken Internal Mechanism

The problem – If any piece of a lock is broken, it can lead to numerous other issues. If you noticed that the latch is stuck or won’t retract only when you tried to manipulate the handle, this is a tell-tale sign that something is broken. This is especially true if it slides in and out effortlessly when you applied your own pressure.

A number of broken mechanisms can cause your lock to not retract. It’s possible that the spindle is broken since the latch is not reacting to the handle. You also may be experiencing a problem with the spindle hole or a broken piece within the lock itself.

The solutionThe simplest way to fix a lock that is broken and has an issue with one of the internal mechanisms is to completely change the locks. Although you can inquire with a local locksmith for some replacement parts, procuring new locks may be the more cost-effective solution. Home Depot offers quite a few affordable lock options.

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Wrapping It Up

We understand how debilitating it can feel to have a door latch that’s not functioning properly. However, after engaging in some very simple troubleshooting tasks, you should be informed enough to properly diagnose the issue with your Kwikset latch not retracting.

Whether it’s the case of a broken internal mechanism, jammed latch or uneven strike plate, the corresponding fixes can easily be achieved by doing it yourself.

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Jessica Stone
Jessica Stone

Jessica considers herself a home improvement and design enthusiast. She grew up surrounded by constant home improvement projects and owes most of what she knows to helping her dad renovate her childhood home. Being a Los Angeles resident, Jessica spends a lot of her time looking for her next DIY project and sharing her love for home design.

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