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Door knob help

Questions, answers and advice for people who own or work on houses built during the 20th century.

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Door knob help

Postby candy-factory » Sat Dec 18, 2010 10:01 am

We have a 1932 foursquare with original doors/knobs (the ones that use skeleton keys).

Over the summer we had some contractors in and it appears they've screwed them all up (and I mean all, every room they accessed has this problem now)

The door will open from one side only. The other side knob turns until it unscrews but doesn't actually open the door. We've had a few occasions where my wife has locked me in the basement (she says it was accidental but I'm not so sure :lol: )

I can't seem to fix it- what is the trick to make both sides work again? It seems like they've turned them too much in one direction and instead of actually opening/closing they seem to now unscrew?

Ryan
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Re: Door knob help

Postby SkipW » Sat Dec 18, 2010 10:23 am

I believe most knobs which have a shaft on which the knobs screw on, there is a set screw in the knob which will hold the knob in the correct position, often on a flat spot, or even an indentation in the shaft. Are you able to see if the set screws may be missing or loose?
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Re: Door knob help

Postby candy-factory » Sat Dec 18, 2010 10:51 am

Here's the main problem doorknob. Do you mean the screw on the shaft in the pic?

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Re: Door knob help

Postby SkipW » Sat Dec 18, 2010 5:26 pm

Yes, that is the one. Normally those set screws will prevent the knob from turning on the shaft when they are tight. Often, the shaft has a flat spot, or flat side, or is square so you can tighten the set screw hard to the flat area and this prevents the knob from spinning. If you try to tighten the set screw on an area that is not flat (the round part or corner of the square) it will hold for a short time, then slip and not hold again. You need to make sure you are lined up with the flat part, get the screw good and tight, and you should be OK. One way to find the flat part is to unscrew the knob back a few turns to look at the shaft anf ind it, tighten it back to correct area and then tighten the screw.
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Re: Door knob help

Postby nick7764 » Sun Dec 19, 2010 2:06 am

Just have to say- gorgeous knobs and door!!! I can never understand why anyone would want to replace incredible original glass knobs like that...
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Re: Door knob help

Postby candy-factory » Sun Dec 19, 2010 7:45 am

SkipW wrote:Yes, that is the one. Normally those set screws will prevent the knob from turning on the shaft when they are tight.


Well, I did as you mentioned and it's obviously a very simple contraption :lol: It works (as in, the door opens from both sides now), but it's super stiff! It takes two hands to even budge it! I'll try it again.

nick7764 wrote:Just have to say- gorgeous knobs and door!!! I can never understand why anyone would want to replace incredible original glass knobs like that...


Thanks! Me neither. We're lucky to have all the original glass doorknobs on the main level, and metal ones on the 2nd floor. They've caused a few problems with little children that are the same height as the doorknob running into them, but nothing serious :lol:
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Re: Door knob help

Postby SkipW » Sun Dec 19, 2010 10:05 am

If it is really stiff, try backing the knob out a turn or so. It does not have to be spun tight to the door before you tighten the set screw....it needs to have a little play so it turns easilly.
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Re: Door knob help

Postby angolito » Sun Dec 19, 2010 10:21 am

just wondering what your contractors were doing that they boogered with every single door in the house? call me nosy.... :D
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Re: Door knob help

Postby candy-factory » Sun Dec 19, 2010 10:41 am

angolito wrote:just wondering what your contractors were doing that they boogered with every single door in the house? call me nosy.... :D


I shouldnt say EVERY door, but I will say all the main level and basement doors. We had all the galv steel plumbing removed (insurance issue) and cleaned up the remnants of knob and tube. Then we added a full bath in the basement.
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Re: Door knob help

Postby sooth » Tue Dec 21, 2010 12:14 am

Are you still having problems with the knobs, or have you managed to sort them out yet?

The way they work is quite simple if you take a few minutes to take one apart. Basically you have just a long square rod that slides into the lock/latch portion. Onto each end, is the knob, which is screwed onto the square shaft. The knobs are held tight onto the shaft with the set screws (try to make sure that they are tightened onto one of the FLAT surfaces of the square rod, and not on one of the corners). If the handles are too tight, you can unscrew them a bit, and re-tighten the set screw on another side of the square rod (ie: you can rotate it in 90 degree increments until it's just right).

If you do this properly, you should be able to get all your knobs nice and snug (not too loose and rattly, and not tight or hard to turn). You shouldn't have any more problems unless the set screws become loose again (which can happen on high-traffic doors).

As a side note, my dad has almost exactly the same knobs on most of the doors in his house, but his doors are original, but very plain (flat ash veneer hollow doors).
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