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Internal Door Handle Trouble Shooting: How to Fix a Broken Door Handle

How to Open a Door with a Broken Handle

A broken door handle can be a frustrating issue to deal with. Luckily many of the fixes are easy and use simple household tools. Very seldom will you need to actually replace your door handles or need any serious fixing done – even more, door handle repair can usually be done by you without the need to call in a professional.

With that in mind, we’ll look at how exactly a door handle works, and then explore some of the ways we can fix a broken door handle.

How Does a Door Handle Work?

Parts of a door handle

Door handle mechanisms work in a relatively simple way. Understanding the different parts of a door handle is the first step. 

There are three basic sections of a door handle with their smaller parts. 

These consist of:

  • The knob or handle
    • The rose/ handle backing plate
    • The spindle
  • Door handle assembly
    • The faceplate
    • The spindle hole
    • The bolt or Latch
  • The backing plate – is placed on the door frame.


Every so often you’ll have a door handle with hidden screws – these are usually hidden underneath the rose, which can be removed by finding a small screw or button on the side of the rose or handle, called a detent hole or grub screw. This will require either being unscrewed or levered open with a flat head screwdriver. 

grub screw

Each of these different parts of a door handle will play an integral part in the opening and closing of a doorknob – and now we have a place to start when troubleshooting our door handle problems.

But how exactly do each of these parts work when using a door handle?

When a door handle is turned, it rotates the spindle, which rotates the spindle hole on the latch assembly. This will pull the bolt from the bolt hole and out of the backing plate on the door frame, allowing you to pull the door open. When the door handle is released, a spring pushes the spindle back into place, pushing the bolt back out of the latch assembly.

Now that we have an understanding of how exactly a door handle works, we’ll explore some issues that you may be having with your door handle and how to fix them.

How to Fix a Drooping/Loose Handle

For a loose door handle, you’ll need the appropriate screwdriver, depending on the type of screws that your door handle uses.

It may be the case that you’ll just need to tighten the screws on the rose of the door handle. This could tighten the door handles into place, fixing your loose door handle in one easy step!

If this doesn’t work, then you may have to take the door knobs out and realign the spindles. To do this, unscrew the screws on the rose and pull the door handle off. Realign the spindle so that it sits correctly in the door and re-screw the door handles back on and tighten the screw set.

If you have a lever door handle with no visible screws, then you may need to find the detent access hole. This is typically found on the side of the door handle and, after using a flathead screwdriver to pry it open, will allow you to remove the rose and access the hidden screws. 

How to Fix a Stiff Door Hanldle

If your door handle is sticking, then it may be the case that some simple WD40 will fix the issue.

If this doesn’t work, then remove the door handle (seen in the section above) and check to make sure nothing is in the way of the internal mechanism. If nothing is there, then check to make sure that the spring isn’t broken or bent.

If there is an issue with the spring, then it’s time to replace the door handle. This is because it’s difficult to find the exact replacement spring for your door handle unless the manufacturer sells them separately. 

If the door handles seem to be in working order, then it may be an issue with the tubular latch. In this case, we’ve written an in-depth article on what to do when your door latch is broken.

Door Won’t Unlatch When the Door Handle is Turned

If the door isn’t unlatching, then there may be an issue with your door latch 

Spindle Length

It may be the case that the spindle isn’t the correct length. A spindle that is too long will push the door knob mechanism out of place and not allow it to work properly. A spindle that is too short will cause the door to disengage, not allowing the bolt to pull back.

If this is the case, you’ll have to take the door handle apart using a screwdriver and either cut the spindle to length or order a handle with a longer spindle.

Broken Spring

The spring that pulls the bolt may be broken. If this is the case, you’ll need to order a new door knob as it can be challenging to find a spring that fits your specific door knob, and replacement isn’t always straightforward.

If neither of these issues seems to be the case, then check out our article on troubleshooting a broken latch.

Door Latch is Misaligned

It may be the case that your door latch is misaligned with the door frame. Once again, our article on fixing door latches is the best place to find information on how to fix this issue.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you’ve been able to find some help within the information in this article. If not, it may be time to contact a professional, or replace your door handles completely.

If you’re in need of replacement door handles, then we’re here to help! Check out our collection of door handles to find the perfect fit for your needs and style.

Hungry for more knowledge? We have a series of helpful articles on all things to do with doors! Here are just a few of our favourites:


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