How to Identify, Purchase, and Replace the Components of your Door Lock
A door lock is made up of several components of varying degrees of complexity. Here’s a look at some fairly universal components of your door:
The cylinder is really the heart of any door lock. The cylinder is the barrel-shaped core of the lock which is coded to accept a particular key.
The latch is the manual, non-keyed locking mechanism of the lock. If the lock is a deadbolt, the latch is typically a large “latch knob” that locks and unlocks the door. If the door lock is part of the handle, the latch may just be a small switch or knob.
The casing fits around the exterior of the mechanism, and provides the “facing” for the door lock.
The tang is the mechanism that connects the cylinder with the latch. It is essentially a small metal rod that translates the turning of the key in the cylinder into the lateral motion of the latch.
The strike plate is the facing which attaches to the door frame. The strike plate is one of the most important- and most neglected components of the door. Without the strike plate, the lock cannot form a so-called “positive closure”- in other words, the door will not securely lock.
How to Find and Purchase Door Lock Parts
It’s often difficult to purchase individual parts for door locks at a general hardware or home improvement store. In general, stores like Home Depot and Lowes do not stock individual lock components. Additionally, you’ll find that door lock parts vary considerably from maker to maker and from year to year. If you’re looking for a replacement part, your best bet is to approach the manufacturer directly. They can frequently send you the part at little or no cost. You can also look around online. There are lots of specialty sites, locksmith sites, etc, where you might find the part you need. If you decide to try a hardware store, I would try to bring the component with you when you go. If that’s not a possibility, at least write down the manufacturer, lock type, and any part or serial numbers you can find. It will make the search much easier.
Cost of Repair Versus Replacement
One issue to weigh carefully is whether it’s cheaper to try to replace the door lock part that’s broken, or to just replace the entire lockset. A general rule of thumb is that less expensive locks are easier replaced, more expensive ones are easier to repair (in some cases)- with some exceptions. Strike plates are always relatively easy and inexpensive to replace. They tend to be more “universal”, and you’re quite likely to find one that will work for you. Cylinders can be replaced, or rekeyed, depending on the circumstances. This is really where you’ll find a difference between more and less expensive lock sets. It’s much easier to find a replacement cylinder for a high quality lock.