Fix-It Chick: Replacing old lockset can bring new look to same door

Replacing a broken or outdated lockset is an easy cost effective way to improve the look and functionality of an existing door.

Step 1: Identify the lockset size by measuring the thickness of the door and the length of the backset. The backset is the locking mechanism that goes from the side of the door to the center of the handle. Many newer locksets come with an adjustable backset that will accommodate lengths of both 2 3/8 inches and 2 3/4 inches. Choose a lockset that is the right size for the door thickness and backset length.

Step 2: Remove the old lockset by unscrewing or prying off the trim rings on either side of the door. If there is a pin hole on the shaft of the existing handle, pushing a sturdy wire into the hole should release the handle from the lockset.

Step 3: Locate the two long screws holding the lockset in place beneath the trim ring. Unscrew these and remove the handle set.

Step 4: Remove the old backset latch on the side of the door by removing the two screws on the face plate. Pull out the latch and compare it to the new latch. If necessary, adjust the new latch so it is the same length as the old latch.

Step 5: Check the backset hole size to make sure the new latch will fit. Refer to the lockset instructions if the existing hole is slightly larger. Locksets often come with an adjustable collar to accommodate larger holes.

Step 6: Install the latch with the slant of the bolt facing in the direction that the door closes. Tighten the face plate screws, making sure the latch is level inside the door.

Step 7: Insert the new knob with the stemmed assembly onto the door and through the latch opening.

Step 8: Attach the other knob to the stemmed knob, being sure to align the installation screws. Tighten the screws gradually, alternating between the two so that the knobs are aligned evenly.

Step 9: Test the new lockset to make sure the latch and knobs move freely and the locking mechanism works smoothly. Readjust the lockset and latch if necessary.

Step 10: Replace the old strike plate on the door jamb with the new strike plate. Reposition it if necessary to assure the door latches securely. Be sure the lock set is working properly before shutting the door.

— Have a home improvement question for Fix-It Chick? Email it to Linda Cottin at