DIY Learn How To Fix A Loose Lever Door Handle Easily

Does your door handle feel shaky when you open or close the door? Well, this is a common problem, particularly with older doors and entryways with a lot of traffic. It is usually caused by a loose or broken screw, although a defective lockset can also allow the knob to spin easily.

A close up to a key in door lock of an apartment

The good news is that it is a DIY task, and you can quickly get the door handle working again with a few basic tools without spending your savings hiring a locksmith or getting new handles. In this tutorial below, we’ll show you how to fix a loose lever door handle before it eventually falls off the door, so let’s get to work!

Reasons why you have a loose lever door handle

A door handle is one of the most used items inside a house. As it’s reasonable, the handle spring will loosen up at some point. Here we have three of the most common reasons why a lever handle may loosen: 

  1. It has become old and clogged with dirt, dust, and other impurities, making the handle or lock difficult to operate.
  2. Your front door plate has a loose or missing screw.
  3. The locking mechanism on the door handle could be broken.

How to tighten a door handle

There’s nothing to worry about, though. Fixing a loose handle isn’t only a locksmith’s task. You can also do it using an Allen wrench, a few more tools and following the right guidelines.

1. Lubricate the lockset

When the mechanism of a door handle corrodes, it might become stiff, especially if it is an outdoor handle or a bathroom handle. Remove the handle and use spray oil to ease the mechanism. To avoid future problems, clean everything off and lubricate the mechanism before replacing it. 

2. Examine the door’s latch or lock mechanism for debris

Make sure no wood shavings have gotten into the lock or latch mechanism. In many cases, many of those “supposedly broken locks” turn out to only have some wood shavings inside. However, do not open a lock case unless you are confident in your ability to do so, as many manufacturers may void their warranty if the lock case is opened. If you suspect a problem with the lock, you should take it back to your dealer for inspection.

3. Repair the set screw using a thread locker

The screws may loosen after a brief period of tightening, causing the handle to rotate on the spindle. If this is the case, the set screw threads have likely lost their grip, and the handle is no longer securely attached to the spindle.

Apply a medium-strength thread locker to the screws to solve the problem. The thread locker improves the grip of the screw, ensuring that the handle is securely attached to the spindle and is not unstable. You can get a tube of thread locker at your local hardware or home improvement store. When applying the thread locker to the screw, make sure the thread locker’s tip does not contact the screw.

4. Replace the screws when possible

Loose screws are the most common reason for a shaky handle. Rust can cause the screws to break or wear out over time. Examine the mounting screws and set screws. If they’re missing or broken, you need to replace them. 

Remove the knob and take it to the hardware store to get a replacement for a lost or damaged screw. Bring one of the mounting screws to the store if it’s broken or worn out so you can get the proper matching size.

How to fix a loose lever door handle

The style of the handle and how the lock system is attached to the door will determine how you fix a loose lever handle. Most door lock systems have visible screws that are simple to remove, while others have hidden or recessed fasteners that someone can only access by disassembling the handle. But don’t worry. We’ll show you how to fix a jiggly handle regardless of the design of your lock system. Follow the below useful troubleshooting guide:

A close up to a secure door lock

1. Check how the handle is fastened to your door

The most popular door handle installations are:

  • Exposed screws: Most doors feature knobs with visible screws, so there should be no issue with this one.
  • Spring-loaded with hidden screws: With this type of handle, the screws are hidden behind. A spring-loaded button called “detent” secures the knob to the spindle.
  • A handle with a set screw: The screws are likewise covered below the faceplate, while a hexagonal-shaped set screw secures the knob to the lock mechanism.
  • Kwikset handles: To reveal the long screw that travels through the spindle with this type of door handle, you need to remove it first and then twist out the protective cover.

2. Tighten the exposed screws

If you have a traditional door lock system with visible screws, all you have to do here is tighten the screws. Look for the screws on the inner side of the handle. Then, tighten the loose ones clockwise with a Phillips-head screwdriver.

3. Fasten the handle with a hidden hexagonal set screw

To fix this type of handle, tighten the hexagonal setscrew or concealed screws on the plate after removing the handle. Locate a little round hole on the inner shaft to the door face, normally on the side.

Peer through the hole with a flashlight. You should see a hexagonal-shaped screw. This screw keeps the handle from rotating on the spindle. This set screw, despite its small size, can make the handle quite loose when opened and closed. Tighten it with an Allen wrench to see if it fixes the problem. If not, you’ll have to remove the handle to reveal the screws hidden in the backplate.

Insert an Allen key spanner into the little round hole to remove the handle. Turn the spanner counterclockwise to remove the screws. The handle should be free by now. Pull out the faceplate, and you should now see a backplate secured by screws. Tighten any loose screws using a screwdriver. Replace the protective cover, and put the handle back onto the spindle, and tighten the hex-screw into its keyhole to secure it in place.

4. Fix a spring-loaded handle with hidden screws

To repair this type of handle, you must first remove it to access the loose screws on the backplate. Find a little slot along the internal shaft. Insert a paperclip, strong wire, or flathead screwdriver through the small hole and press momentarily to spring the handle while holding it. Remove the handle from the spindle by prising it out. 

a close up of a gold plated door handle

Remove the protective cover to reveal the screws that secure the lock to the door. These fasteners are the main cause why you have a loose doorknob and so tighten them with a screwdriver. Then, to secure the cover, turn it clockwise and put it back in place. Return the handle to its original position by sliding it back into the spring-loaded spindle and turning it clockwise.

5. Fix a loose Kwikset door handle 

These lock systems used to be quite popular, but their popularity has dramatically fallen over the last 10 years, and they are no longer found in many residences. If you still have this type of lock system, you certainly are having trouble disassembling it to tighten the loose mounting screws.

Unlike other types of handles, which use little screws to hold everything together, Kwikset uses large screws that go through the spindle that links the exterior and interior knobs, and so you end up with a loose handle. Follow these tips:

  1. You’ll need to access the lengthy screws in the spindle to fix the loose handle. However, you must first remove it.
  2. To separate the faceplate from the door, grab it and twist it slightly. This will reveal a backplate that holds the entire lock assembly together.
  3. Look for a tiny slot on the side of the door where the backplate is located. You should see a little arrow inside the slot. 
  4. Slide the arrow upward with a little flathead screwdriver. To avoid damaging the lock, use as minimal pressure as possible. The handle should be released, and the backplate should be visible after sliding the arrow upward. 
  5. Slide the handle away from the spindle to reveal the long screws that link the exterior and interior door knobs and run through the spindle. To fix the rattling handle, use a screwdriver to tighten the long screws.
  6. To lock the handle into the spindle, you should twist it to the left. After that, twist the cover once more to secure both the new door handle and lock system in place.

Woman opening a door into a living room

There you have it! Sure, it can be tough to figure out what’s causing your loose handle to rattle, especially if the lock system has no viewable screws. But, as we’ve shown you above, the main cause is usually loose screws either on the doorknob or on the hidden backplate that holds the lockset together. It’s only a matter of tightening the screws, and your jiggly handle will then be as good as new!

Find out next: How to change a door lock and stop a squeaky door.

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