Dealing with loose doorknobs is something every homeowner faces at some point in time. Whether the doorknob jiggles a little too much or pulls away from the door when trying to open, it doesn't take very long for a loose doorknob to get beyond a simple annoyance. Luckily, repairing it isn't difficult and can be accomplished by following a few simple steps.
Step One - Determine the Doorknob Style
The first thing you'll need to do is determine what type of doorknob you have. There are generally two types of doorknobs that most people will encounter in their homes. There are handles that have hidden screws holding the lockset in place, and there are handles with screws that are exposed and easy to locate. These two kinds of doorknob incorporate a different method to keep the knob snug against the door, so different steps need to be followed depending on the type of doorknob.
Step Two - Remove the Handle
Doorknobs with exposed screws are common in older models and newer, less expensive ones. If the problem doorknob has exposed screws, then you will need to locate the set screw, which is typically on the inside of the door. The set screw helps keep the handle in place when you rotate it to open the door. By loosening the set screw, with either an Allen key or screwdriver, you should be able to remove the handle and expose the shaft. If the shaft is threaded, then twist the handle on the shaft until it is flush with the door. Then back it up a little to provide extra space for the handle to spin properly and then tighten the set screw. If it's an unthreaded shaft, then simply place the knob back onto the shaft and up to the face of the door before tightening down the set screw.
Doorknobs that incorporate the use of hidden screws are a little more complicated to fix. These types of doorknobs utilize an outer face plate to conceal the screws holding the doorknob against the door. In order to expose the hidden screws, you need to look at the doorknob and find out where the detent access hole is located. The detent is similar in function to a set screw, and is simply a spring-activated pin that sticks out of a small hole in the doorknob, which prevents it from rotating. Once you find the pin, use your flathead screwdriver or the end of a paper clip to depress the pin and remove the handle from the spindle shaft.
Step Three - Remove the Base
Once the door handle has been separated from the spindle shaft, the next thing you need to do is remove the decorative base. This decorative ring conceals the screws that hold the entire assembly together, which are the main reason why the doorknob has become loose. Use a flathead screwdriver to slowly pry loose the ring, and be careful not to damage the backing plate as this could detrimental to the entire lockset.
Step Four - Locate and Tighten the Screws
Once you have successfully removed the decorative ring without damaging the backing plate, you should be able to locate a set of screws. These screws run from the inside backing plate through the door and into the outside backing plate and help hold the entire assembly together. To tighten them, simply hold the outside backing plate so that it doesn't move, and tighten the screws down individually. Typically, the screws have a Phillips head, so a Phillips head screwdriver should do the trick. Remember, don't tighten down the screws too hard as this could strip them out. Additionally, try not to use an electric drill as it might put too much pressure on the screws and damage them.
Step Five - Replace the Base and Reattach Handle
Tightening down the screws in the previous step should have placed the backing plates firmly against the door. The only thing left to do is replace the decorative ring by snapping it back into place on the backing plate. Once this is done, you can put the door handle back into place over the spindle shaft. After the handle is fully on the spindle shaft, turn it so that the hole lines up with detent and click it back into place.