Screen door latches are a high wear type of door latch, primarily because they typically are made from light metals like aluminum or pot metal. The latches usually break either in the inside mechanism or at the button or handle. Replacement of the screen door latch is relatively easy but there are some details to attend to in order to ensure that the latch works properly.
- Use the door closer tab to block the door open.
- Remove the screws that hold the latch halves to each side of the screen door.
- Remove both sections of the latch.
- Remove the screws that hold the strike to the doorjamb. Keep the shims that may be located underneath the strike plate.
- Purchase the proper size latch for your screen door. The door thickness is the predominant factor to take into consideration.
- Clean the door surface where the latch is located. You can use warm water and a mild detergent to remove dirt, grime, and light corrosion. Dry the door thoroughly before installing the new latch.
- Apply a light coat of machine oil to the new latch mechanism before installing it.
- Insert the first latch half through the screen door, making sure that the screw mount holes fit through the predrilled holes in the door..
- Install the second latch half. Ensure that the operating stem fits into the mating part in the outside latch half without binding or sticking.
- Install the mount screws and tighten them firmly.
Adjusting the door latch
- Install the new strike that came with the new screen door latch. If the new latch did not come with a strike, reinstall the old one using the original shims. Do not over tighten the strike mount screws or you will strip out the holes in the doorjamb.
- Allow the door to swing shut and check to see that the latch fully catches the strike and holds the door securely shut.
- If the catch does not reach the strike, remove the strike and add shims underneath it. Reinstall the strike and allow the door to swing shut again. You may need to add or remove shims until the catch reaches the strike and latches the door securely.
- In a wooden doorjamb, the strike location may be too low or too high for the new screen door latch. If so, you may need to raise or lower the strike. Using a sharp wood chisel, cut away the correct amount of wood above or below the original strike location and reinstall the strike in the new location. Try the door again and make sure the latch catches the strike properly.
You may find that you need to readjust the door closer to make the door swing shut and latch properly. Simply turn the adjusting screw in or out to correct the door closing speed. If it swings shut too fast, the door will slam shut; too slow and the door may not latch at all.
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