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HOME IMPROVEMENT Replacing lockset is simple task for do-it-yourselfer



Published: Sun, January 6, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



More people are replacing locksets before they wear out.

By JAMES and MORRIS CAREY

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Though often dubbed a "doorknob," the device that we use to open and close a door is truly a "lockset." This might be a bit confusing since not all locksets are equipped with a lock. A doorknob simply is one part of the rather complex, yet easy-to-use lockset.

A lockset is more than a device to open and close a door. Properly equipped, it can provide privacy and enhance safety and security. It can do wonders to enhance the appearance of interior and exterior doors alike.

If you visit the door hardware section of your local hardware store or home center, you might be surprised at the number of choices.

Three types: You will find that not all locksets are created equal. There are three types of locksets -- passage, privacy and a key lock.

A passage lockset, as the name implies, allows easy access because it does not contain a lock. It is used where privacy is not an issue, such as at a closet or other interior door.

On the other hand, a privacy lockset does contain a lock and is used primarily at bedrooms and bathrooms. The lock is engaged by depressing a button, pressing and turning the knob or with a thumb turn. Most privacy locksets can be unlocked by inserting a manufacturer-supplied small metal "key" (a piece of wire about the size of a finish nail) into a hole located on the lockset. Although it locks, a privacy lockset provides little or no security.

Rounding out the field is a key lock. It's similar to a privacy lockset in that it can be locked. However, as the name implies, a key lock is operated with a key. This allows a door to be locked (and unlocked) from the outside. Although a key-lock lockset is used primarily at exterior doors, it often is placed at closets or other doors where limited access is desired. Even though there are only three types of locksets, there is a large supply of shapes, styles and finishes from which to choose.

Can't find what you're looking for at your local hardware store or home center? Contact a door shop in your area. It will have catalogs filled with choices.

A single lockset can range in price from a few dollars to several hundred. As with anything else, the difference is the quality of construction, the style, the complexity of design, the finish -- solid versus plated finish, the thickness of the plating, etc.

Appearance: Most folks replace a lockset when it no longer will operate properly or when the finish is so badly tattered that it becomes an embarrassment. However, increasingly people are pulling out the basic locksets that came with their homes and kicking it up a notch by replacing them with new locksets with styles and finishes that correspond with the home's design and decorating. Out with the bronze and in with the brushed nickel!

And while appearance might jump-start most lockset replacement projects, the need to improve security and the ease of operation aren't far behind. There is no better time to install a deadbolt to improve security than when replacing an exterior key-lock lockset. And for older folks, people suffering from arthritis or for those physically challenged, a lever-handle lockset, instead of a knob can make a big difference. The lever style is so much easier to operate.

How to do it: Replacing a lockset is a simple home-improvement project that can be performed by even the least astute of home-improvers. The only tool that is needed to accomplish this task is a Phillips screwdriver -- an offset screwdriver works best. Sometimes a utility knife and a chisel might also be needed.

Start by removing the existing lockset. Use the screwdriver to remove the retaining screws that hold the inside and outside knobs together. Though the screws usually are visible on the inside of the lockset, some knobs are removed by depressing a tiny latch on the spindle. With the knob off, the rosette (trim plate) can be removed to expose the retaining screws. Remove the retaining screws, as noted earlier.

Pull the inside and outside knobs apart. The spindle is attached to the outside knob and will slide out of the inside knob and latch as you pull. The latch is an independent component that can be removed by removing the two screws that fasten it to the door. Before pulling out the latch, use a utility knife with a sharp blade to carefully score the joint between the faceplate of the latch and the door. This will prevent the wood around the faceplate from splintering. Finish the removal process by detaching the old strike plate from the doorjamb. The new strike plate is likely to fit perfectly into the original mortise. If it doesn't, make a pencil mark around the new one and use the utility knife and chisel to alter the opening. If this is too challenging, you might simply want to leave the old one in place.

Before running off to buy your new locksets, measure the size of the bore in the door and the center of the hole from the door's edge (backset). This information will assist you in purchasing the correct replacement hardware. Although this information can vary greatly, the typical bore is 21/8 inches with a 1-inch bore on the edge for the latch. The backset is usually 23/8 inches or 23/4 inches. Many locksets come equipped with a universal latch that will accommodate either dimension.

Install the new lockset by repeating your previous steps in the reverse order, beginning with the new latch unit. It also doesn't hurt to read the directions first.

XFor more home-improvement tips and information, visit www.onthehouse.com on the Web.




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