Does your door handle feel wiggly when you turn it to open or close the door? This is a common problem in older doors and high-traffic entryways.
The culprit is usually something as small as an unfastened or broken screw but a malfunctioning lockset can also cause the knob to spin loosely on the faceplate.
The good news is with a few basic tools, you can easily get the knob to work again. Below, we’ll show you how to fix a loose doorknob in a matter of minutes.
Tools for fixing a doorknob
These are the tools you will need to tighten a loose doorknob:
- Phillips-head screwdriver
- Small flathead screwdriver
- Allen wrench
- Paperclip or thin stiff wire
- Small flashlight
Step-by-Step Guide on How to Fix Loose Door Knob
How you fix a loose doorknob will depend on the handle style and how the lock system is fastened to the door.
Most door lock systems have exposed screws that are quite easy to remove while others have hidden or recessed fasteners that you can access by taking apart the doorknob and faceplate.
Don’t worry though—whatever the style of your door lock system, we’ll show you how to fix a jiggly knob. Follow these simple steps:
Step 1. Check how the knob is fastened to the door
The most common doorknob installations are:
- Exposed screws: Most doors come with knobs that have visible screws on the faceplate.
- Spring-loaded with hidden screws: With these types of doors, the screws are hidden behind the faceplate. The knob is fastened to the spindle with a spring-loaded button known as a detent.
- Knob with a setscrew: Here, the screws are also hidden behind the faceplate while the knob is affixed to the lock system with a hexagonal-shaped setscrew.
- Kwikset knobs: These are less common. You’d need to remove the doorknob and twist out the faceplate to expose the long screw that passes through the spindle.
Step 2. Tighten exposed screws
If your door lock system is the conventional type with visible screws, all you have to do to fix a wobbly knob is to fasten these screws.
Locate the screws on the faceplate on the interior knob. Then, using a Philips-head screwdriver (or a screwdriver that is compatible with the screws on the faceplate), turn the loose screws clockwise to tighten them.
Step 3. Fasten knob with hidden hexagonal set screw
To repair this type of knob, try tightening the hexagonal setscrew or the hidden screws on the backplate after removing the knob itself.
- Locate a small round hole, usually located on the side of the shaft of the interior knob.
- Use a flashlight to peer through the hole—you should see a hexagonal-shaped screw. This screw, also known as a setscrew keeps the knob from spinning on the spindle. Tiny as it is, a setscrew can cause the knob to feel jiggly when opening and closing the door.
- Using an Allen wrench, tighten the setscrew to see if this will solve the problem. If not, you will have to remove the knob to expose the screws in the backplate that holds the lockset assembly together.
- To remove the knob, insert an Allen wrench into the small round hole. Twist the wrench counterclockwise to remove the setscrew. This should free the knob.
- Next, pull out the faceplate, also known as the collar or ‘rose’ on round-shaped door handles. This will expose a backplate held in place by screws.
- Using a screwdriver, tighten any loose screws. Replace the rose, slide the knob back onto the spindle, and fasten it in place by inserting and tightening the hex-screw back in its hole.
Pro tip: Be sure not to make setscrew too tight as you might need to remove the door just if you need to remove the knob to access loose hidden screws. Tightening the setscrew too much can also make it difficult to turn the knob when closing or opening the door.
Step 4. Fix a spring-loaded knob with hidden screws
Some lock systems come with a spring-loaded clip known as a detent. Like the setscrew, this clip keeps the knob steadily attached to the spindle. To fix this type of lock system, you will first need to remove the knob to access the loose screws on the backplate.
- Locate a tiny slot along the shaft of the interior knob. Then, while holding the knob, insert a paperclip, firm wire, or small flathead screwdriver through the hole and press briefly to spring the knob.
- Pry out the knob and slide it out of the spindle. Take out the rose collar to expose the backplate and screws attaching the lockset mechanism to the door. If these fasteners are loose, it could be the reason why the doorknob itself is loose.
- Using a screwdriver, tighten the loose screws. Then, replace the rose collar and turn it clockwise to fasten it in place.
- Slide the knob back into the spring-loaded spindle and turn it clockwise to snap it back into its original position.
Step 5. Fix a loose Kwikset door knob
Kwikset lock systems were once quite popular but they were kind of phased out and are not too common in many homes today.
If you have this type of lock system (check the latch plate along the edge of the door for the ‘Kwikset’ brand name) you are not alone if you are having a hard time figuring out how to disassemble the system to tighten the loose mounting screws.
Unlike the other types of locks where small screws hold the entire system together, Kwikset features characteristically long screws that go through the spindle that connects the exterior and interior knobs. Loose screws can cause the handles to wobble.
Step 6. Disassemble the Kwikset doorknob
To fix a loose Kwikset knob, you will need to access the long screws in the spindle. But, first, you will have to remove the knob.
- Grab the rose and slightly twist it to separate it from the door. This will expose a backplate that holds together the entire lock assembly.
- Locate a thin slot on the side where the backplate meets the door. You will notice a small arrow inside the slot.
- Using a small flathead screwdriver, slide the arrow upward. Use minimal force while doing this to avoid any damages to the lockset. Sliding the arrow upward should release the knob and expose the backplate.
- Slide the knob off the spindle to expose the long screws that run through the spindle and connect the interior and exterior doorknobs.
- Take a screwdriver to the long screws and tighten them to fix the rattling lockset assembly.
- Replace the doorknob and twist it to the left to lock it into the spindle. The small arrow that you pushed up earlier will come down. Next, twist the rose once to lock the entire knob assembly in place.
Congratulations! You’ve successfully repaired your loose doorknob. As you can see, you only need basic DIY skills and a pinch of patience to resolve a common problem with door handles.
Extended Tips on how to tighten a door knob
Below are additional recommendations for door lock maintenance and other smart things you can do to make this project a success:
Lubricate your lockset
Now that you have disassembled the knob system, this is a good time to lubricate the inner parts including the spindle, screws, and backplate. Spray a tiny amount of silicone-based lubricant to keep rust away and prolong the life of your door lockset.
Repair the set screw using a thread locker
Sometimes, the set screw might come loose again, a short time after tightening it, causing the knob to spin on the spindle. If this is the case, it is likely that the threads on the setscrew have lost their grip and are unable to keep the knob firmly secured to the spindle.
To resolve this, try applying a medium strength thread locker on the setscrew. The thread locker will increase the setscrew’s grip, ensuring that the knob firmly attaches to the spindle and is not wobbly. You can buy a tube of thread locker from your local hardware store.
When applying the thread locker to the setscrew, the tip of the thread locker should not touch the setscrew.
Replace the screws where possible
As you have seen, loose screws are usually the cause of a wobbly doorknob. Rust and age can break or wear out the screws, requiring them to be replaced.
Inspect the mounting screws and setscrew—if they are lost or damaged, your best bet is to replace them. For a lost or damaged setscrew, remove the knob and take it to the hardware store to buy the right fit replacement. If the mounting screws are broken or worn out bring one of them to the store to buy the right size.
Quickly repair a loose doorknob on your own and save money
When your doorknob starts to rattle, it can be quite difficult to figure out the cause, especially on lock systems without visible screws.
But, as we’ve shown you, the culprit is usually loose screws either on the doorknob itself or on the hidden backplate that holds the lockset together.
Once you locate the screws, it is just a matter of tightening them up and your once jiggly knob will be as good as new.
Do you have any questions or comments on fixing doorknob problems? Please leave them below—we’d be happy to hear from you!
Saturday 18th of June 2022
We have the first style doorknob with external screws. I tightened them up, and while the the door knob was better, there still is some play in it. Any other suggestions?
Wednesday 24th of February 2021
With my knob the screws are not exposed. There is a small button on the shaft. I've tried to push in all the way to remove knob. It doesn't work. No Allen key or set screw. Do I need to turn a certain way or ?
Sunday 31st of January 2021
The rose on my Turkish doorknob is loose. I have tightened it but after knob has been turned a few times rose becomes loose again. How do I tighten it to stay tight? Thanks John