Removing a Door Lock at Home

How To Remove a Door Lock at Home

Whether you want to replace a lock altogether or you need to remove a lock to have it re-keyed by a professional, removing a residential door lock is something you can easily do yourself.

With the right tools in hand and clear instructions, removing a door knob is a home improvement task even your kids can help you with! Read on to learn how to remove two of the most common types of home door locks: knob and cylinder locks, and one not-so common one: a mortise lock.

Removing a Knob Door Lock (With or Without Visible Screws)

A knob door lock refers to a door turn-knob that has the lock built right in. Most commonly, these are found on interior doors within a home and are great for providing a bit of added privacy in bathrooms, offices, and other spaces.

Sometimes, knob door locks will also be used (along with a deadbolt) for an exterior door, but they are not recommended as the primary lock for any exterior door due to how easily they can be removed or bypassed.

Tools Needed

If you’re looking to remove your knob door lock, you’ll need to start by making sure you have the right tools for the job. More than likely, you already have everything you need; if not, stop by your local home improvement store and pick up:

Wire or small nail

Flat head screwdriver

Phillips head screwdriver

Removing a Door Knob With Visible Screws

The first step is determining whether your door knob has visible screws on the rose plate. If it does have exposed screws, these should be on the interior knob (the one you use to lock the door).

Step 1: Remove These Screws

If your door knob has visible screws, your job will be easy. Grab that Phillips head screwdriver and start unscrewing the two visible screws.

Step 2: Remove the Door Knobs

Once you’ve unscrewed those screws, you should be able to simply remove the interior and exterior door knobs.

Step 3: Unscrew the Face Plate

Pick up that Phillips head screwdriver again and start unscrewing the two screws located on the face plate.

Step 4: Remove the Latch

Once you’ve removed the screws from the face plate, simply grab the latch and pull the entire thing out. Congratulations! Your door is now door knob-free!

Removing a Door Knob With No Visible Screws

Can’t find any visible screws on your door knob? Don’t go grabbing a hammer and smashing just yet! All knob locks have what’s known as a slot with a latch; this is what holds the knob in place.

Step 1: Locate the Slot

You can find the slot on the shank of the inside knob (the one you use to lock the door). This is usually a small, rectangular hole. If you don’t see the hole, try turning the knob to either side until you can locate it.

Step 2: Push Button and Remove Knob

Now that you’ve located the slot, you’ll need a flat head screwdriver (or a small pin, paper clip, or nail) to press the release button inside of the slot (these tend to be very small). Use your chosen tool to depress the button. At this point, the interior knob should release from the door easily.

Step 3: Remove Exterior Rose Plate

Next, you’ll need to remove the rose plate. The best way to do this is to use a small, flat head screw driver to carefully pry the rose plate away (usually there is a small slot on the rose plate that allows you to do this).

Step 4: Remove Interior Rose Plate

Now that you’ve removed the decorative rose plate, the interior rose plate (with screws) should be exposed. Pick up your Philips head screwdriver once more and remove these screws.

Step 5: Unscrew the Face Plate

Move on over to the face plate now and unscrew that. Once completed, remove the latch altogether.

Step 6: Remove Remaining Door Knob

Finally, grab the remaining exterior door knob and pull! With a few extra steps, removing your seemingly screw-less door knob is something anyone can do!

Removing a Cylinder Door Lock

Removing the cylinder from a door lock is a simple way of keeping the lock handle that you have while changing the cylinder lock inside of it. Once this is removed, a locksmith can re-key this for you.

Cylinder locks are extremely common, but how to remove the cylinder is not quite as obvious as a knob door lock. If you need to replace or re-key a lock that’s not built into the door knob itself, the good news is that this type of lock is still relatively quick and simple to remove.

Tools Needed

To remove a cylinder lock, you’ll need just a few basic tools:

Phillips head screwdriver

Flat head screwdriver

Allen wrench

Step 1: Remove Screws

In just three quick steps, you can remove an existing cylinder lock for re-keying or replacement. Start by using your Phillips head screwdriver to remove any visible screws from the interior side of the door. These are the screws that hold the lock and the door together.

Step 2: Remove the Spindle

Next, you’ll need to use your flat head screwdriver to turn the spindle of the lock counter-clockwise around until it stops. This should be done by inserting the flat head screwdriver (you may need to play around with a few different sizes) into the lock itself.

Once the spindle stops turning, you should find that square tab within the spindle is perfectly aligned with the rest of the lock. At this point, you should be able to use your flat head screwdriver to carefully push on the tab that’s holding the spindle into place. When you do this, the spindle itself should pop out of its housing.

Step 3: Pop the Cylinder Out

With the spindle gone, you’ll now have access to the housing of the lock. Look carefully inside the housing (a flashlight might be helpful here) until you locate another small tab. Use your flat head screwdriver to push down on this tab, which will release the cylinder. However, there’s a good chance that you’ll need to use an Allen wrench to push on the cylinder until it slides or pops out.

As you work on removing the cylinder, be careful not to press too hard with the screw driver on the tab, as this can cause permanent damage to the point that the lock will no longer be usable.

Removing a Mortise Lock

A mortise locks has a pocket (called a mortise) that is cut into the door itself. The lock is encased in this pocket, making it a more secure locking method.

Tools Needed

Removing a mortise lock requires no more tools than for removing a regular knob door lock.

Phillips head screwdriver

Flat head screwdriver

A hammer may be needed (if your lock is stuck)

Step 1: Locate & Unscrew the Set Screw

This screw will be on the shank of the inside knob (the one you use to lock the door).

Step 2: Unscrew the Door Handles

The two door handles are screwed into each other through the spindle. Be sure to unscrew them; do not just pull. It won’t get you anywhere.

Step 4: Remove the Rose Plates

Unscrew the external door knob rose plate that remains on the door using Philips head screwdriver.

Step 5: Remove the Face Plate

Unscrew the top and bottom screws located on the face plate of the mortise lock using a Phillips head screwdriver.

Step 6: Remove the Mortise Lock

Using your hands or plyers, grab the latch bolt and begin to pull the mortise lock out. It should come out after a few, good pulls.

If the mortise lock can’t be easily removed, grab a large flat head screw driver and use that to pry it out. Insert the screw driver into the hole where the spindle was. The screw driver should fit snuggly in the hole. With your screwdriver perpendicular to the door, take a hammer and tap it in the direction of the strike place a few times.

Step 7: Filling this Hole

At this point, your mortise lock and door knob should be removed, leaving you with a substantial hole in your door. To replace your lock with a cylinder door lock or knob door lock, you’re going to need to fill the remaining space with a piece of wood and wood glue.

There you have it: a few simple steps to removing a knob door lock, a cylinder door lock, and even a mortise lock at your home. This is a basic DIY skill that any homeowner will benefit from knowing, especially if you ever need to replace a lock or have one re-keyed.
Of course, if you run into any troubles while trying to remove a lock at your home, feel free to contact Great Valley Lockshop at 610-644-5334 or fill out a service request. We’d be more than happy to help with any or all of your residential lock-related needs.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2016 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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