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How to Fix a Door Handle

If your door handle is not returning to the horizontal position it is almost certainly because the spring has broken in either one or both of the handles on the door.  Replacing a door handle spring is really quite simple, the only special tool you need is a pair of external circlip pliers.  External circlip pliers are available on Amazon for about £3.50.  There are circlip pliers with interchangeable jaws so they can act as either external circlip pliers or internal circlip pliers.  These work, but they can be a bit fiddly and most people probably wouldn't use the jaws intended for internal circlips.  We generally recommend opting for a simple pair of straight nosed external circlip pliers.

Please note that this guide is for traditional lever handles - if you have a UPVC handle its simply a matter of removing the broken spring cassette and fitting a new one (see UPVC Door Handle Springs).

Repairing the Handle

  • Saves money - especially if you have more than one broken handle now or in the future
  • Saves the effort of finding a matching handle, with the screw holes in exactly the same position
  • Saves having to re-paint the door when you discover the new handle plate does not cover the position of the old handle plate
  • Is good for the environment
  • Gives you a sense of achievement!

So what's involved?

The first thing to do is to remove the handle from the door.  Put some newspaper under your handle, as it's not uncommon for some fine metal dust to fall on the floor as the handle is removed.  If the handle was left on the door when the door was last painted it may be worth running a sharp knife around the handle to allow it to come away from the door without damaging the surrounding paintwork.  Once removed from the door the inside of the handle should look like the handle on the left in the photograph below.

disassembled door handle with washers removed to replace spring

At this point you should protect your eyes (see safety information below).  Insert the 2 tips of the circlip pliers into the 2 holes in the circlip and squeeze the handles of the pliers together.  This will open up the circlip allowing it to be removed from the groove in the handle shaft.  Next remove any washers and the cam.  The cam is the metal disc with either 1 or 2 points that defines the extent of travel of the handle.  In the picture to the left the cam has 1 point to define the horizontal position of the handle.  If the cam has 2 points the extent of downward travel of the handle would also be defined.  It helps if you make a note of the orientation of the cam before it is removed.  As soon as the cam is removed the handle would normally move upwards under the force of the spring.  However, the reason you are doing this is because the spring is broken, so move the handle up manually (so the lever is approximately vertical).  After removing any broken fragments of the old spring, fit the new spring as shown in the picture.  Some grease or Vaseline around the spring helps reduce wear and makes operation of the handle smoother.  Once the spring is fitted it will be rotating the handle up into the vertical position.  To refit the cam you need to depress the handle just past the horizontal position with one hand whilst pressing the cam onto the shaft with the other hand.  Replace any washers and then refit the circlip (remember eye protection) .


Always use circlip pliers to remove circlips.  Attempts to prise circlips off with a screwdriver usually deforms the circlip.  The screwdriver slips and you can cut your hand on sharp edges.
However careful or competent you may be, circlips can sometimes fly off circlip pliers.  For this reason WEAR APPROPRIATE EYE PROTECTION. 

Choosing the Correct Type of Replacement Door Handle Spring

Take a look at our guide to Choosing the Correct Door Handle Spring.  It contains useful information on how to determine the thickness of spring to order.  It covers springs for Lever on Rose door handles (these often do not have a hook at the top) and springs that wrap around the handle shaft (rather than having an inner arm that locates into a slot in the handle shaft).  It also covers the various configurations of round wire springs.

After reading the guide proceed either to Round Wire Door Handle Springs or Flat Wire Door Handle Springs


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