Midnight DIY

Last night, at about half eleven, Monica was the last to come upstairs. She called up to me 'I can't get into the living room!' I went down expecting to find something was jamming the door on the far side, but the handle was broken. Specifically, the handle would turn but the catch would not slide across.

I took the handle off, hoping that it was the square shaft that had failed, and I could turn the lock manually. No joy, something had failed in the lock mechanism, meaning that the shaft wasn't connected to the catch.

We had a few options. Forcing the door was out of the question as it is a glass panelled door, this left us with cutting out the latch and cutting the frame to allow us to slide something in. I tried the old credit card thing, but due to the frame this was pointless.

I worked on it whilst Monica got tools from the garage (fortunately her keys were not in the living room), and after much fiddling (which consisted of turning the square shaft back and forth) I found that the shaft occasionally caught something in the lock. I could not get enough of a purchase to release the catch though.

After a while the square socket that the shaft went into in the lock mechanism was displaced, and I could see a couple of mm into the lock system. I could see the lever the shaft connected to. Some brute force and ignorance with a screwdriver saw the door open.

The next job was removing the lock itself to prevent recurrence. An easy job, I thought. No. It would not be removed. However, once I discovered this the lock was about 1cm out of the door, and so needed to come out to avoid someone catching themselves on it. It would not go back in.

Eventually, after much brute force I pushed the lock INTO the hole a little, and then it came OUT.

What had happened is that a piece of metal which pulls back the catch had snapped, disconnecting catch from handle. To make the job more interesting once the door was open, the mechanism had an opening at the top, and so this piece of metal jammed into the wood of the door inside the hole, holding it firmly in place, and holding it ever tighter as I tried to remove it. Pushing it in released this piece of metal.

This is not what you need at midnight.

Fortunately, I did not have to cut the door or frame.