A handyman is frequently asked to fix doors that have one sort of problem or another. In order to do this, you must have a good understanding of how doors are installed, from the rough framing to the installation of a prehung or non-prehung door. You should know how the various types of interior and exterior locks work. In most cases, a problem with a door can be fixed by working with what is there. But sometimes you will have to buy new locksets. If you have a local locksmith shop, the people there can be very helpful.
There are so many varieties of locks and other door hardware that it is not practical to attempt to have spare parts for all of them. But there are some things worth having on hand.
This is like a little telescope that lets a person inside see who is outside.
These doorstops swing down from the door to the floor. Don’t buy at retail until needed.
DOORSTOPS (3 INCHES LONG)
These are like a tightly wound spring with a plastic bumper on one end and a screw on the other. They screw into the baseboard and stop the door from opening so wide that the door knob bangs into the wall. You should buy several 3-inch-long doorstops and, if you can find them, a few that are 4 inches long.
These doorstops mount on the hinge pins. Buy two or three of these.
When a doorbell stops working, the most likely cause is a defective push button. Sometimes you can scrape the contacts clean, sometimes the button must be replaced. Then check out the wiring and the bell or chime. The occasional, but least likely, cause of the problem, is the transformer. I like to have on hand a few push buttons, one of which is an illuminated push button, an extra chime, and a 16-volt transformer.
GARAGE DOOR HARDWARE
Garage door hardware consists of rollers, latch, hinge, handle, and lock. Don’t buy these at retail until they are needed.
These are very strong and secure locks, used for exterior doors.
KNOCKERS (RARELY NEEDED)
Don’t buy these at retail until they are needed.
LOCK CYLINDERS WITH KEYS
Don’t buy lock cylinders until they are needed.
You will need one or two locksets for interior doors.
Keep a few sets of adjustable rollers for closet sliding doors on hand.
This is the kind that allows the door to open a few inches without letting anyone come in.
STORM DOOR CLOSERS
These closers are cylinders with springs inside. They often need replacing after several years of use. Occasionally you can rejuvenate one of these by removing the speed-adjustment screw and squirting some oil inside.
In some cases, the stop “washer” that slides along the closer rod, and is intended to hold the door open, doesn’t do its job. Sometimes this can be remedied by bending that washer, using large channel-lock pliers, so that the bent tab on the washer is at a right angle to the rest of the washer. Buy only good-quality closers, and have a few on hand. Some newer storm doors use two closers.
STORM DOOR LATCHES
These come in various styles. Ask at your hardware store which style is most widely used and have one spare on hand.
You might need a turnbuckle that has rods to pull sagging doors back into square. Don’t buy these until they are needed.