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Before I go forward with a fix like this one, are there any alternatives to moving the strike plate when the amount of adjustment needed is minor (the door will latch if you lift up on it). I believe the misalignment is caused by sagging as the sill plate that was replaced 3 years ago has dried out (the door was reset and worked perfectly at that time).

Can I place a small shim (perhaps 1/16") behind the lower hinge? The door swings easily and doesn't move on its own right now, I'd like it to stay that way if possible.

  • I'd like to avoid filing the strikeplate because it's a highly polished brass and has both the latch and deadbolt in a single plate, so both would have to be filed. I know it won't look quite right if I filed it. – TomG Apr 17 '14 at 0:06
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Your instincts are right. Bumping out the lower hinge just a bit should raise the lock mechanism a bit and may allow it to properly engage the strikeplate. You also get the risk of messing with well functioning hinges. It may cause the door to self-swing (or even bind at the top or sides).

But the test is easy. Slightly loosen the lower hinge screws on the door. Slip a piece of cardboard or two between the hinge plate and the door. Tighten the screws. If all is well, you can leave the shims or replace them with a thin piece of wooden shim. If it doesn't work or causes other problems, reverse the fix.

If that doesn't solve the problem, you may be able to file down just enough of the lower edge of the strikeplate hole to allow the lock to engage. Newer strikeplates are fairly thin material and can be filed fairly easily.

  • For a little cleaner look, place the shims behind the hinge on the jamb side, the trim reveal will hide the gap created by the shim. When placed on the door side, the shim will usually create a dark line where the hinge meets the door. If you place a shim thicker than one layer of cardboard, place a single layer behind the middle hinge too. This will keep the hinge pins in line. All this said and done will move the latch very little, maybe 1/32". Filing the strike will give the best result. – Jack Apr 15 '14 at 15:50
  • I'm going to give this a try over the weekend, both to the entry door and the screen/storm door, which both have the same problem. Prefer not to file the strikeplate(s) if I can avoid it, see comment added to the question. – TomG Apr 17 '14 at 0:08
  • Worked great. I had some rubber pond liner, and used two layers for the bottom hinge and one for the middle. – TomG Apr 29 '14 at 2:02

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