When Door Knobs Attack


My house is old. 

It was built in 1957, and has had precious little updating since. With an old house you expect things to go out and need repairs/replacement. It’s had lots of plumbing issues over the years (although the worst turned out not to be anything specifically to do with the pipes in the house, but something called orange pipe that connected the house line to the city sewer lines. The city actually fixed that a few years back, but before they did boy howdy every flush of the toilet or load of laundry made me hold my breath to see if it was going to back up into the bathtub. Good times.) along with other issues, like the roof, gutters, water heater, furnace… but I digress.

Now, if you’ve ever had to pee at 2:30 in the morning, you know you don’t get out of bed until you really need to, and the last thing you want is to find yourself effectively locked into your own bedroom, as I was last night. So not amusing.

The old doorknob had been tough to open for a while now when the door is fully shut. The knob could only turn one way to retract the latch (that’s the part that generally goes into the strikeplate on the door frame, which is what keeps it closed.) Like so:

replacing-door-knob-step-3-measure-the-before-installing-the-new-doorknob-installing-door-knobs

So at 2:30 I had to use the bathroom, and wouldn’t ya know it, that latch wasn’t playing. Ten minutes I stood there, trying to wrangle that thing open to no avail. By then I was starting to get a little panicky. Clearly something had failed inside the latch assembly, and with the screws to remove the door knob on the outside of the room I couldn’t even try to remove the knob or take the thing apart. 

My next idea was to take the door off the hinges. The top hinge pin slid up and out just fine like it was waiting to be relieved of duty, but the bottom hinge wasn’t budging, clearly in league with the door knob. I tried to find something, anything, in my bedroom that I could use to try to pry the hinge pin up and out and remove the door. The first thing I found that was strong enough to use as a lever was an incense burner, one of those long, flat brass ones for holding joss sticks (am I the only one who doesn’t keep tools in the bedroom?). Good thought, but no dice. Somehow there was too much space between the top of the hinge pin and the knuckles (that’s what those things are called that the pin sits in) that hold it to get enough leverage.

It finally occurred to me that the latch was retracting most of the way, so I pulled it back as far as I could, then jammed the incense burner into the slight space between the door and the the door frame, and managed to push the latch the rest of the way in and open the door. FREEDOM! 

So I now have a shiny new door knob that works the way it’s supposed to. I guess the moral of the story is to burn incense, or maybe fix things before they completely break? Something like that.

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