Door Handle Broken? Try This

If your door handle is broken, there are a lot of moving parts to worry about. Luckily, those of us at DreamyHome are here to save the day. There are a few different things you’ll need to take a look at to ensure everything is working properly. That’s because, depending on what “broken” means to you, the handle might not even be the cause of your issue!

The most common causes of a door handle being broken are rust, loosened connections (such as screws), broken parts, issues with the door itself, or a truly broken door handle.

That’s a lot of information for one sentence, so we’ll break it down a bit more. Keep reading to see how to fix a door handle that’s broken!

The Causes & Fixes

One of the most common issues I see is that door handles (especially those going outside) are often neglected. Yes – you need to maintain and clean your door handles, just like everything else in life. Isn’t adulthood fun? Let’s get into it.


If you’ve noticed that your door handle isn’t quite turning as cleanly as it used to, there’s likely a reason – rust. You’ll often be able to see the rust rather easily, but at times it can get inside the handle itself. Luckily, there’s a good fix – good ole’ trusty vinegar and baking soda. Rust is especially common on keyed door handles because they allow a place for moisture to get inside the lock and handle mechanisms.

Here’s how to clean it out:

  1. Remove the handle from your door. You’re going to be soaking this overnight, so be sure to have a temporary way to secure the door – especially if it’s a door to the outside.
  2. Take apart the handle into individual pieces.
  3. Place them all into a large bowl or bucket, and submerge the parts in vinegar. Leave them overnight to soak.
  4. The next day, remove the parts and liberally cover them in baking soda. This will neutralize the vinegar and cause a chemical reaction that will make rust removal drastically easier.
    1. Your vinegar will likely be rusty. Be sure to dispose of it somewhere that it won’t damage its surroundings (i.e. not in your front garden.)
  5. Let the parts sit for a minute or two, and then scrub them with steel wool or a similar scrubby method, using water to rinse. Dry and reassemble the handle.
  6. Test your door handle. If the issue persists, at least you have a clean handle! Move down the list.


While you’re in the process of reinstalling your handle after cleaning it, make sure to tighten all of the screws and connectors. Often, door handles will loosen over time thanks to temperature changes,

Here’s what to do:

A note, (as I said above) this is much easier to do while cleaning, as you need to remove the handle for both steps.

  1. Check that all of the screws in your handle are connecting to the bits between both sections of handle – front and back. Often, they’ll loosen with time, making the door work less optimally.
  2. When reinstalling the handle, tighten all of the screws as much as possible.
    1. If the knob or rose plate are threaded, you’ll need to turn to the right here.
    2. Using a soft object like a cloth to prevent scratching is recommended.
  3. Reinstall and test. If that doesn’t work, it’s possible you have an issue with the door itself.

Door Isssues

Sometimes the problem isn’t where we think it actually is. That’s the beauty of troubleshooting – it’s a massive pain in my rear.

Especially if you have a wooden door and/or live in a place with major temperature fluctuations, your door can warp. This can lead to misalignment and issues with the latch catching when the door closes.

To fix this:

  1. Take a look at your door. Does it hang slightly off-centre? Is it visibly warped? Then this is likely the cause of your issue.
    1. One major thing to note – this is a very sensitive process. You can try to sand or cut your door to fit better into place, though I highly recommend that you hire a professional if you suspect this is your issue. Alterations to the frame of the door can have major impacts on how the door hangs and fits, as well as potentially raise your heating bill due to lost heat.
  2. Remove and measure your door. Now, measure your door frame. If something is slightly off and has warped out of place, I recommend that you sand it down gradually until it fits snugly into place. Any other alterations should be done by a professional, or at least on a professional’s guidance.

Full or Partial Replacement of the Handle

This is where things get complicated. If you really like your door handle (especially if it’s a special or historic design) it may be difficult to replace entirely, let alone replacing individual parts. Nonetheless, it is possible to do, so let’s talk about that for a bit.

Begin by finding a diagram of your handle. They’re often available online and you’ll occasionally get a diagram on paper when you buy the handle. If anything is clearly bent, broken, or corroded beyond repair – that’s likely the cause of your issue. Try to find a replacement.

If you can’t replace a single part, or the handle is so heavily damaged that it’s not realistic, you’ll need to replace the whole handle.

Installing a New Handle

To install a new handle, you’ll just need to follow the instructions given with the handle. This often involves:

  1. Removing the old handle (obviously.)
  2. Installing the handle as per instructions, being sure to not tighten the screws entirely quite yet. This is important.
  3. Once everything is in place and relatively snug, tighten the screws one at a time. Be sure to double-check that they’re sitting properly and snugly, without being so tight that the handle is bending where it meets the screw.
    1. Tightening the screws one at a time will help ensure everything is aligned properly and that there aren’t any loose bits inside the handle.
  4. Test the handle itself – with the door open.
  5. Test the handle with the door latched – if it doesn’t work, it’s likely that your door is the issue.

When to Call a Pro

There are three main times that you’ll want to call a locksmith or contractor:

  1. You’ve tried all of the above and nothing changed.
  2. You’ve tried all of the above and things got worse.
  3. You are uncomfortable with any of these processes.

This is a surprisingly complicated part of your home with a lot of moving bits- some of which are not supposed to move. If you feel overwhelmed or uncertain, professionals exist solely to make your life easier. They’ll be able to spot the issue much more quickly than you and will get it solved in a matter of hours, rather than days.

So don’t feel ashamed of making a drink, sitting back, and letting the professionals do what they do best – their job.

Final Thoughts

Door handles are finicky bits of our home with a surprising amount of stuff going on behind the scenes. It’s always worth it to clean your handles, especially if you spot rust. Beyond that, it can’t hurt to ensure all of your screws are set properly. After that, though, it’s likely that you’ll want to call a professional. Installing a new handle can be time-consuming and frustrating if you’ve not done it before, and a pro will be able to spot any issues far better than an untrained layman.

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About the Author Harry Thompson

Involved in home renovations throughout his life, Harry is an expert in everything to do with home and garden DIY. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking and tending to his garden.