How to Fix a Loose Lever Door Handle

Take steps to repair a loose lever door handle instead of replacing it.

A close up of a hand on a lever door knob

Wira Thikosee / EyeEm / Getty Images

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 5 - 15 mins
  • Total Time: 10 - 20 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $10 to $15

A loose door handle starts as a minor irritation that you notice while rushing around the house, but if it goes unfixed, the handle can become unusable. When this occurs, you or someone else in the home may be stuck on the other side of the door until the handle can be fixed or removed. This problem can be avoided by learning how to fix a loose lever door handle and using this information to regularly tighten the screws if the handle begins to feel loose.

Fixing a loose lever door handle is similar to fixing a door knob, but not exactly the same, which is why it's important to understand how your door handle functions, instead of making assumptions about the design and getting stuck partially through the repair process. Follow these simple steps to fix a loose lever door knob and help prevent loosening in the future.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Screwdriver
  • Allen wrench

Materials

  • Door handle screws
  • Threadlocker adhesive

Instructions

How to Fix a Loose Lever Door Handle

  1. Locate the Screws

    Depending on the type of lever door handle, you may be able to find the screws simply by looking at the faceplate on the door handle. However, if you have a lever door handle with no visible screws, then you will need to locate the detent access hole or pin, which is typically found on the side of the door handle. It may be a small round or rectangle shaped hole or protruding pin.

    Check for a set screw on the bottom of the door handle that could be locking the handle in place. If there is a set screw, loosen and remove it with your screwdriver.

    The detent pin is spring-loaded, so you just need to insert a flathead screwdriver or the end of a small Allen wrench into the hole to push down on the metallic detent pin, or simply push in the pin if it's exposed, in order to release the door handle. Gently pull the lever handle away from the door while depressing the pin. With the handle removed, loosen the ring on the base of the door handle with your flathead screwdriver to detach the base and access the screws. If it doesn't pry loose easily, check for an additional detent on the side of the base and depress it to remove the base.

  2. Inspect the Screws

    Regardless of whether the screws were installed through the faceplate of the door handle or if you needed to remove the base plate to access the screws, the next step is the same.

    Loosen the screws so that you can inspect the shank, thread, and tip for any defects. Examine the screws for any noticeable defects, like a stripped drive or any signs of bending or warping. If the screws are damaged, then you won't be able to repair the door without replacing them.

    Head to a local home improvement store to pick up replacement screws. Take the old screws with you to ensure that you find the right size and length for your lever door handle.

  3. Realign the Lever Door Handle

    With the handle removed from the door and the screws loosened, you can take this opportunity to properly align the lever door handle. One of the most common causes of a frequently loose lever door handle is handle misalignment. This misalignment causes tension within the door handle assembly, resulting in gradually loosening screws and increased wear.

  4. Tighten and Replace the Screws

    If the door handle screws pass through the faceplate, then you can go ahead and thread the screws through the faceplate and into the door handle assembly. Tighten the screws, making sure that the lever door handle remains properly aligned as you work. Repeat this process on both sides, so that both lever handles work properly.

    If you need to remove the door handle and base to access the screws, then simply reinsert the screws and make sure that the assembly is aligned on both sides.

    Remember to replace any damaged door handle screws with new screws and consider applying a threadlocker adhesive solution to the door handle screw threads to improve the grip and prevent the screws from loosening.

  5. Reinstall and Tighten the Door Handle

    When the screws are in place and tightened you can reinstall the door handle base, then slide the door handle over the detent pin and reinstall the set screw to lock the handle in place. Use a screwdriver or an allen wrench to tighten the set screw and ensure that the door handle won't slip off the base.

    Repeat the process with the handle on the other side of the door, then test to make sure that the repair worked. It's recommended to tighten your lever door handles as soon as you notice they feel loose to avoid increased wear on the screws.