How to Tighten a Loose Door Handle

The more housework we can do ourselves, the more time, money, and stress we save. So learning how to fix a loose door handle is a great skill to have in your arsenal.  

Being able to repair a loose handle means you can keep your current handle or door knob instead of replacing it, because replacing one would require replacing the entire set if you want to keep them all matching. Like repairing a stuck door, this is a do-it-yourself project that will save you time, money, and effort in the long run.

'A loose door handle can be caused by a variety of factors, including general wear and tear, a loose screw, or even a malfunction of the handle or knob mechanism,' explains Karl Huckerby, CEO of Square and Spare. (Opens in a new window) 'Fortunately, replacing door handles or knobs is usually a simple fix, so there's no need to replace anything. '

Wooden door with metal hardware and knob

(Photo courtesy of Future PLC/Alistair Nicholls)

How to Repair a Loose Door Handle

We asked the experts and put together a step-by-step guide to show you how to fix a loose door handle with minimal fuss. You'll be relieved to learn that this is a relatively simple DIY project that can be completed in as little as 10 minutes, so there's no reason not to grab your screwdriver and get to work.  

First, see if you can see the screws on your door handle. If you can't, skip ahead to the section on how to repair a loose door handle with hidden screws.  

If the screws in your door handle are visible, you can learn how to fix a loose door handle much faster than if the screws are hidden. A door handle with exposed screws typically has four screws, one in each plate corner.  

1. Remove the doorknob or handle.

Selection of door handles on table

(Photo courtesy of Smile Kitchens)

Locate the set screw that holds the doorknob or handle in place. This is usually found on the inside of the door and can be loosened with a screwdriver from your essential DIY toolkit. You can remove the handle by loosening the screws.

2. Turn the shaft.

The spindle, or shaft, can be threaded or unthreaded. If the spindle is threaded, it will have markings running down its length, and you will need to rotate its handle so that it sits properly in the door. If the shaft is not threaded (i.e. e There are no markings), and there is no need to rotate the handle.

3. Attach the handle to the spindle.

Then, realign the holes to properly place the knob or handle on the spindle. Check that the face plate is also in the proper position.

4. Secure the screw set

Tighten the screw set with the screwdriver to secure the door handle back in place, and that's it. You've now learned how to repair a loose door handle with exposed screws.

How to Use Hidden Screws to Repair a Loose Door Handle

Learning how to fix a loose door handle with hidden screws requires an additional step because the screws must first be located. But it's still a simple enough job to do yourself, and it's unlikely to result in any major DIY blunders.

1. Find the detent hole

Silver door handle with hidden screws on blue door

(Photo courtesy of Yale)

'On door knobs or handles with hidden screws, there's something called a detent hole that must be found in order to access the screws,' Karl from Square and Spare explains. 'The detent is a small pin that protrudes from the hole in the doorknob or handle. '

To find the detent hole, remove the cover plate with a flathead screwdriver first. Once the detent is exposed, remove the handle from the shaft by pressing on the pin with a flathead screwdriver.

Alternatively, round cover plates may need to be unscrewed by turning them anti-clockwise first,' explains Thomas Goodman, Property Expert at MyJobQuote. (Opens in a new window) 'If not, carefully pry it off with a flathead screwdriver.' '

2. Take off the doorknob or handle.

Wooden door with matte black lever handle

(Photo courtesy of Homebase)

Take away the door handle/knob base. Gently loosen the ring with the flathead screwdriver.

3. Secure the screws

After removing the ring, all screws should be visible, allowing you to tighten them individually with the appropriate screwdrivers. 'Keep hold of the backing plate while doing this so it doesn't tighten wonkily onto the door,' advises Karl from Square and Spare.  

If the screws appear to be damaged in any way, they may need to be replaced with a new set, which you can buy online or from a DIY store.

4. Replace the handle and test it.

Door with painted stripe going across onto wall

(Photo courtesy of Future PLC/Brent Darby)

Replace the ring on the backing plate and the handle or knob over the shaft after tightening each screw. Turn the handle or knob gradually until it lines up correctly and the detent hole clicks into place with the knob/handle.

Your door handle should be secure, and you should be able to move it up and down (or around).  

What causes a squeaky door handle?

White door with silver lever handle in front of living room

(Photo courtesy of Homebase)

Door handles frequently become loose over time as screws tend to shift from their original location. Because repeated use of a handle causes it to loosen, taking a gentler approach when using it will help.  

'Door mechanisms and fixings can become loose over time, particularly if they are heavily used,' says Thomas from MyJobQuote. 'Poor fitting and low-quality materials can also be factors.' '

'One of the most common reasons that door handles come loose is because the handle was misaligned when screwed in,' says Christopher Varghese, Ecommerce Executive, GTSE. (Opens in a new window) 'This misalignment can cause tension, causing the screw hole to grow larger the more it is used, causing the screws to loosen.' '

It's worth learning how to repair a loose door handle as soon as you notice the problem, so it doesn't worsen and you can still repair it without replacing it. Fortunately, it's usually as simple as removing the handle and tightening the screws, rather than something as difficult as learning how to hang a door.

Can you tighten a sloppy doorknob?

White door with chrome handle revealing living room

(Photo courtesy of Homebase)

In most cases, you can tighten a loose door handle, but you should first determine what the problem is. If the problem is with the handle rather than loose screws, tightening the screws may not be enough.

'If your door handle has been in use for many years, it may be worth replacing it, but in most cases, loose screws don't mean the handle isn't up to standard,' says Wayne Kennedy, Head of Consumer Support at Yale. (Opens in a new window)

'We only recommend changing the handle if the door has the incorrect handle set or if the mechanical handle fails.' 'In some cases, you can simply tighten the screws.'

How do you repair a door knob with a loose spindle?

White door with brass door knob revealing living room

(Photo courtesy of Homebase)

A loose spindle indicates that your door knob is not securely attached and can thus spin freely. 'If the spindle on an old or traditional style of door knob feels loose, there's usually a loose small screw,' says Thomas from MyJobQuote.  

The door knob collar should have a small screw that fits into the spindle's groove. 'Check to see if this is worn or dirty; it may need to be cleaned or replaced,' Thomas adds.  

'The screw may be loose because the screw hole has grown larger,' says GTSE's Christopher. 'Our helpful tip is to fill the hole with small splinters from a wooden coffee stirrer or ice lolly stick, then screw the metal screws back in.' 'This will fill the extra space in the hole, allowing the screw to sit securely in place.

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