How to Repair a Loose Door Handle

Updated: Oct. 18, 2023

This simple household fix can be "handled" by any competent DIYer in no time.

Next Project

A few minutes




Free to $5


Tighten a loose doorknob with hidden chassis screws. It only takes a minute to pop off the cover plate.

Tools Required

  • Awl
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Screwdriver

Over time, door handles loosen and become difficult to turn and unlatch. The doors used more often in the home are more prone to this.

Most door hardware made today uses exposed screws to connect the two halves of the handle to each side of the door. These are accessible from the “room side.” If you have exposed screws, you’re lucky — it will be much easier for you to remove the cover plate.

But some current brands (and most older door hardware) use hidden chassis screws, a setup that requires taking the doorknob and cover plate apart to tighten the screws. If you know the model of your door handle, you might find the user manual online to provide clear instructions for tightening your specific hardware.

Our door hardware is typical of interior doors, but you may have something other than a button to release the knob. Also, some door cover plates unscrew from the chassis by hand (turn them counterclockwise) rather than snap onto it.

If you see any damaged screws or hardware, replace these pieces to ensure your door handle will work properly. If the screws need to be replaced, bring the original screws with you to the hardware store to ensure you buy the right size.

Project step-by-step (5)

Step 1

Release button

Remove the inside doorknob by locating the release button, i.e. the metal tab or wire clip on the side of the knob. Using an awl or small screwdriver, push the button in all the way and, at the same time, pull off the handle.

Releasing the button of the door knobTMB STUDIO

Step 2

Remove the door cover plate

Insert a small screwdriver into the small notch in the cover plate and twist it. The plate should pop off. Be careful not to chip any door paint.

Remove the door cover plateTMB STUDIO

Step 3

Tighten screws

Tighten the door hardware by opening the door, squeezing both sides of the assembly together and tightening the two screws on the chassis. Inspect it as you tighten it. If the doorknob mechanism is in bad condition, or the threaded holes for the screws are stripped and won’t tighten, it may be time to replace the doorknob.

Tighten screwsTMB STUDIO

Step 4

Reassemble the knob

To reassemble, snap the cover plate back on the chassis, depress the release button and slide the knob back on until the button pops through the hole.

Reassemble the knobTMB STUDIO

Step 5


How do you fix a wiggly door handle?

Most likely, you need to tighten the screws in the handle. The spindle may be loose or worn out, which can happen with really old and worn handles. Sometimes all the handle needs is some lubrication to the moving parts.

Why does my door handle wobble?

This can occur when screws in the handle become loose. Just tighten them with a screwdriver. If the door mechanism wasn’t properly aligned when installed, it can cause the handle to wobble.

How do you tighten a loose door handle without visible screws?

Look for hidden screws. Some handles have them under plates or caps. Screws can also be found at the bottom or side of the handle. This is common with commercial and older exterior doors.

If it turns out your door handle has no screws, add an adhesive to secure it.