Its that time of year when you are looking for things to do around the house that you might not have time to do when its nice out. One of the things that makes life a little nicer is taking care of your door locks and hinges. When you have a door that squeaks every time you open it or lock latches that stick it can be a bit of an annoyance. With a few basic tool and some lubricant you can have that door operating like new in just a few minutes.
Why do doors have these problems? Well over time the metal begins to wear. Lubricants are used to reduce wear and they often fill up with small amounts of metal and you can see it accumulating as a black slime that builds up on your latches. In your car you would be changing the oil to reduce this wear and buildup in your engine but our doors seem to be forgot until they begin to squeak and have problems closing.
Lubricating Your Door Hinges
There are three parts to a door hing. The metal plates that attach to the door and the door frame and then the pin that holds them together. If your door is squeaking its probably time to clean these surfaces and apply new lubricant.
The first thing you need to do is remove the door hing pin. You can do this in place by cleaning one pin at a time or you can remove all three hinge pins and clean the door off the frame. To remove the pin you will need a screwdriver, a common nail and a hammer and you might want a pair of pliers. Start by inserting the nail in the bottom of the hinge and tapping the hinge pin out of the top of the hinge. This can take a little effort. Next you want to use a spray lubricant in an aerosol can to clean the interior of the hinge pin hole. This will be very dirty so you want to spray down into the hole from the top and catch the oil and dirt with a paper towel on the bottom. Next clean off the hinge pin with the oily paper towel and then we will prepare to reinstall it. To lubricate the hinge you should use an automotive grease. You can buy a can of it but I normally buy high temperature wheel bearing grease in a tub at the local super store for just a couple dollars and it will work really great for this application. You can wipe a small amount of grease on the pin but most of it will be forced off when you insert it so the best way is to put a small amount of grease on your finger and force it down into the top hole of the hinge. You don’t need a lot and you don’t need to completely fill the hinge with grease you only need about 1/4 teaspoon per hinge. Wipe the full length of the hinge pin with a small amount of grease just so there are no dry spots and insert it into the top of the hinge and tap it down with your hammer until the head is flush with the top of the hinge. And you are done. Now you have two more to do on this door.
Cleaning And Lubricating Your Door Lock Latches
This is a very simple process and doesn’t require disassembly of your door lock for normal maintenance. You will need some aerosol spray lubricant and a paper towel. First inspect the door latch and you will probably see black buildup of a mixture of metal and old lubricant. Spray a small amount of lubricant on your paper towel and remove that buildup before spraying lubricant on the door latch or you might be forcing this debris into the latch. Once it is pretty clean you can press the latch into the door and spray it lightly with the straw attachment. Using your paper towel work the latch by depressing it and you will see a good amount of black residue come out. You might have to do this a couple times to remove the buildup.
If your door has a key lock on it you can also lubricate the pins in the door by spraying lubricant into the keyhole. The same black residue will drip out of the keyhole so have a paper towel ready to wipe it up. This might take a few applications to get the pins and springs moving easily. You can also insert your key while doing this and it will work the pins in their slots.
Metal and lubricant buildup in your moving parts will cause sticking and metal to metal contact will cause squeaking of hinges. It is important to clean your locks and hinges every few years for best operation but eventually these parts will need to be replaced from wear. Hinges should last many decades but depending on the manufacturer your door latch might need to be replaced every 10 to 20 years.
This process doesn’t take too long and its just another thing you need to do around your home to make sure things last for many years.
One other thing is that some door latches were made out of plastic parts to reduce costs for home builders in the years from about 1998 to 2005. If you have plastic latches they will still have a brass front plate on them so you might thing you actually have metal latches. If your door does have plastic latches you want to replace them if they are sticking. Kwikset is one of these manufactures and I can say from personal experience the latches are crap and never should have been on the market. The plastic wears and then you can find yourself in a situation where you can’t open the door because the plastic breaks. Kwikset will not replace them under warranty however they pulled them from the market which is telling. If your interior doors have kwikset locks from this period of time you might want to pull the knobs off and see if the shaft of the latch is plastic and then replace it.