Deadbolt Not Lining Up – What To Do?

Doing door improvements on your own is tough. You will likely have problems with installing the door parts and hardware. Loose fittings and incorrect placements can put your property at risk. The critical door hardware to consider is the deadbolt. Your door may not properly close when the deadbolt is not aligned. With this in mind, we have researched expert tips that can help you solve your deadbolt concerns.

Your deadbolt may not line up due to several factors. These factors can cause the door locks to be loose, and if not solved, will cause security problems. The following are the common causes why your deadbolt does not line up:

  • Misaligned door frames
  • Loose door hinges
  • Thick weather stripping
  • Deadbolt is not fully extended
  • Strike plate placement

You can either fix the issue on your own or ask a door locksmith for help. You can also refer to the deadbolt's manufacturer for some support. In any way, check the deadbolt before asking for extra help. If you want to fix your deadbolt problems with less hassle, make yourself familiar with the specific issue. Read further to find out more about your deadbolts.

A deadbolt photographed on a white background. Deadbolt Not Lining Up - What To Do?

Why Is My Deadbolt Not Lining Up?

There are several factors that affect the alignment of your deadbolt. When misaligned, your doors might not lock properly. Deadbolts need regular maintenance to prevent problems with locking your doors. You must know the particular part of the door which caused the misalignment. Check the door frames, hinges, screws, and strike plates for any loose parts.

Misaligned Door Frames

Old wooden doors tend to shift over time. The aging of doors can cause the door frames to misalign with the strike plate. Also, the changing temperatures and moisture levels could also cause the misalignment. The misalignment makes the deadbolt not lined up with the strike plate, thus making the door hard to close.

Solution: Lipstick Test

This method is helpful to mark where the strike plate perfectly meets the door jamb. Use this method to know the right place where the deadbolt needs to line up. These are the steps to follow:

  1. Rub the lipstick onto the latch. If you don't have lipstick available, you can use paint, chalk, or a marker.
  2. Turn the knob to retract the latch.
  3. Close the door. Release the knob so that the latch comes in contact with the jamb.
  4. Adjust the hinges or screws to line up the deadbolt.
  5. Repeat until the door closes properly.

Loose Door Hinges

Another reason behind the misalignment of your deadbolt is loose or worn door hinges. Loose door hinges cause the doors to sag. This is also caused by the aging of your doors. You need to check the screws of the hinges if they are still tight.

Solution: Tighten Door Hinges

To solve the issue, just tighten the hinges to solve the misalignment. If that does not work, you can replace the old screws with longer ones.

If tightening or replacing is not enough, you can add some shims under the door hinges. The door hinge shims correct the alignment of the door jamb. It is better to use shims made of styrene plastic or ABS instead of using cardboard to prevent the sagging of doors.

Get this E-Z Shim quick align hinge shim on Amazon.

Thick Weatherstripping

Using weather strips for your doors minimizes drafts and noise. The thick weather stripping prevents the bolt to fit securely in the bolt pocket.

Solution: Change Weatherstrips

You can try replacing the old weatherstrip with a new one so that the door closes just right, not too tight or not too loose. Make sure that the weatherstripping fits properly with the frame opening.

Types Of Weatherstripping

Here is a list of different types of weatherstripping for doors depending on the homeowners' needs:

  • Pressure-sensitive adhesive-backed foam
  • Spring-metal strips
  • Self-sticking spring metal
  • Felt
  • Serrated metal
  • Foam-filled tubular gasket
  • Interlocking metal

Deadbolt Not Fully Extended

In addition, the misalignment can also be due to the bolt pocket that is not deep enough or the deadbolt is not fully extended. The bolt pocket must be 1 full inch deep to allow the full extension.

Solution: Enlarge Bolt Pocket

You can enlarge the bolt pocket by chiseling until you get the needed depth. Check if the bolt pocket is still fully extended without dragging it. If the issue persists, check the existing strike plate that might affect the bolt pocket. You can replace it with the strike plate purchased with your lock.

Strike Plate Placement

The deadbolt may not line up due to the position of the strike plate. You need to adjust or replace your strike plate to solve the misalignment issues. Keep reading to know how to solve your strike plate placement issues.

How Do You Adjust a Deadbolt Strike Plate?

Misaligned strike plates affect the smooth locking of doors. You can do simple tweaks to correct the alignment. When you want to adjust your deadbolt strike plate, you can do the following options below:

Move The Strike Plate

The easiest way to adjust the strike plate is to move it slightly to correct the alignment. For exterior doors, closely fit the strike plate against the weatherstrip. It is best to move the strike plate far from the center when the door closes. If you only need a few adjustments, loosen the plate and move it to the correct position.

To know the direction where you move the plate:

  1. Get the distance from the edge of the door to the center of the latch bolt.
  2. Then take the distance from the center of the strike plate to the edge.

The difference between the measurements tells you where to move the strike plate. If the vertical difference is the same, you will only need to move the strike plate horizontally and vice versa.

File The Strike Plate

You can also file the strike plate to trim off enough metal that allows the strike plate to hold the latch. You can do this by using a small triangular or flat file. If you need to make your filing stable, you can use a vise.

Enlarge Strike Plate Hole

The standard hole for the strike plate is 1/16 inches. If the latch misses contact with the strike plate by at least 1/8 inches or less, you might need to enlarge the holes. To enlarge the strike plate holes, remove the strike plate. You can use a half-round file to match the latch hole size.

Use A Strike Plate Adjustment Tab

Strike plates can either be adjustable or non-adjustable. Adjustable types have "tabs" that help you control the strike plate alignment. With adjustable strike plates, just loosen the screws of the strike plate tab to reposition it. With an adjustment tab, adjust the tab close to the door stop until your door stays closed.

Chisel The Mortise

Aside from filing or moving the strike plate, you might need to chisel the mortise on the door frame. When you remove the strike plate, chisel the mortise to trim the wood. Make sure that space is enough for the strike plate to lay flat.

Replace The Strike Plate

If none of the tips listed above solve the problem, you will need to replace the strike plate. You can either add additional clearance or fill the holes with wood putty. With this process, you will need to drill new holes to put the strike plate in position.

Check out this Gator door latch strike plate on Amazon.

How To Fix a Deadbolt That Won't Turn?

There are three common reasons why deadbolts won't turn:

  • The first reason might be due to the lack of cleaning and lubricating of the deadbolt.
  • Another reason is the bending of the deadbolt component.
  • Lastly, there could be debris inside the deadbolt mechanism that you need to remove.

You can fix your deadbolt on your own by following these steps:

  1. Lubricate the deadbolt lock cylinder and the keyway with dry Teflon, silicone, or graphite spray. Use a key to twist the cylinder several times to let the lubricant work inside.
  2. Remove the lock cylinder from the door. Spray the deadbolt mechanism with lubricant.
  3. Twist back and forth with a flat screwdriver. You can also tap the inside to get rid of stuck parts.
  4. Reinstall the cylinder to the door.

Buy this DuPont teflon non-stick dry-film lubricant on Amazon.

In Closing

Deadbolts may not line up due to the issues with other door hardware and parts. When your deadbolt does not line up, do not worry and spend much on repairs. You must know the exact reason why your deadbolt misaligns. You can solve the problem by fixing the hinges, aligning the door frame, or adjusting the strike plate. Aside from the door hardware, the deadbolt itself needs maintenance. Take time to check your doors regularly to prevent misalignment issues.

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