Unlocking the Secrets of a Door that Won’t Budge


The front door wants us out—forever. This is how we know: it will not open when we stick the key in. We have to tug and pull and whisper secret words to get it to let us in. Any combination of the following steps might work in a different order on different days: 1) Stick the key in 2) Turn to one side 3) Turn to the other side 4) Press on the handle 5) Turn the key and press on the handle at the same time 6) Turn the key while standing on your tip-toes and pushing your shoulder into the door and lifting on the handle 7) Simultaneously repeat all the previous steps while trying to shift the actual door in the doorframe 8) Attempt a control + F + shift + windows keys maneuver on the keyboard.

There have been times, when I’ve thought of getting back inside my car and ramming it through the doorway just to get in. There have also been times when neighbors have nearly tapped me on the shoulder to tell me that maybe I’m at the wrong house—that perhaps I’m confused—that maybe I’m trying to stick my key in the wrong door, but it’s the door that’s the problem—not me.

Lately, even Nate, who is not normally prone to worry, has grown concerned. What if the day comes when the door won’t let us in at all?

Upon careful inspection, he decided that the door latch was not going back enough into the door to open it. And he knew just what to do, which made my worry-prone stomach churn. I had questions: What if he took the lock off the door and realized whatever he had planned would not work—and then, when he tried to put the lock back on—it wouldn’t fit anymore? Would we be left without a lock on our door—in the Greater Seattle area—where it takes at least five years and about $80,000 to find someone to replace anything?

Nate reassured me he had an ingenious plan to replace the lock system with another Kwik Set lock. Of course, I wanted all the details for the blog, but I couldn’t bear to watch, so Nate took photos and told me about his adventures after the fact, which I’ll dish here. (I was in the house at the time, but I was cozy and snug in my office, distracting myself with online searches of “weird toasters”—and wow! I highly recommend it. There’s a whole story on The Cult of the Weird about a woman’s haunted/possessed toaster, and the picture alone is just precious.)

The House is Too Quiet

Nate brought the supplies he’d needed into the house, but then, I heard nothing. Apparently, he was in what he called “the figuring phase,” which is when he went to YouTube to figure out what to do. (Actually, I got that wrong. He did this before he bought the supplies. He had to take apart the lock on the door first. (See concerning questions above.) Luckily, we were not left with a gaping hole where the lock was supposed to be. He was able to place the lock back on the door, with me safely inside—while he went to Home Depot. So maybe he was at the Home Depot?)

Nate Risks it All

Apparently, in order to fix the lock, you have to fix the handle of the door too, so this part involves taking out the lock again, through a series of convoluted steps you learned on YouTube. Then, you have to unscrew a screw at the bottom of the outside door handle, and that’s when Nate had to take his shirt off because he was getting hot. (Nate’s stories are very detailed.) Nate also noted that, since most of the neighbors usually saw him leaving and coming home in a suit, a shirtless man busting open the lock on the front door might seem alarming. Luckily, no one called the police, but if they had, I would have told them it was an inside job. (ba-dum-dum)

Nate also drew this helpful graphic of how the latch mechanism works in the lock, but I wasn’t sure what I was looking at exactly. I saw a circle and a long thing penetrating it, and I began to wonder: Is this how door latches multiply in nature? If so, we could have spent less time and money at the Home Depot.


In any case, Nate got to the point in the project where it was just a matter of following the directions on the Kwik Set package—only to discover that everything worked! But here’s the best part: We don’t need a new set of keys! Everything matches up. And, as a bonus round, Nate tackled the kitchen door that leads to the garage, which absolutely, never, ever acknowledged us since the day we moved into this house, but now—now it knows we’re family. A family that can replace it if it starts to act up.

Your Turn: What are some fussy gadgets or fixtures in your place that you’ve just learned to live with until you absolutely cannot stand it anymore?

25 thoughts on “Unlocking the Secrets of a Door that Won’t Budge

  1. Windows that don’t open correctly seem to follow me around wherever I go! In my current apartment, I finally had maintenance come to fix the one tall window in my living room that wouldn’t budge. That was nice for a while until I realized that way too much air comes in around all my windows, so I put up clear, permanent (for me) window seal around all of them. Although I can still open some of the windows, that would probably disturb any seal I’ve managed to get. I just leave them alone. Not perfect, that’s for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was having a similar issue with trying to lock the door in the morning. Then I realised that the lock was too cold (this issue never happens when it’s warmer). I have to open the door into the entry for a few minutes before leaving so that the mechanism can warm up a bit. Unlocking at the end of the day isn’t as bad because the sun has been shining on it. At least it wasn’t possessed.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So your story begins as our return from a 5 month vacation. We put our key in the front door but it wouldn’t turn. Again and again, same results. We called locksmiths, thought about breaking in when our new neighbours asked if we got our new key from the condo board. New key? Apparently there was a water emergency and they drilled out our key, replaced it when they were done, but forgot to tell us!! Finally another locksmith came to let us in and after a couple of days (it was, of course, a weekend) we got our key.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, wow. Go, Nate! How is it that your keys still work in a new lock? That would make me think that your keys would work in a lot of people’s locks. Maybe you should try them and get tapped on the shoulder by neighbors for real.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Ours is more a10 inch read, and trying to find a base that doesn’t disturb the tiles. We are opting to tough it out until our contractor can do whole bathroom reno

        Liked by 1 person

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