By Rob Staff, Secure Homes Security
Your door locks are something you use every day but don't really notice - until they go wrong.
Often, the problems can be quite small, and are easily fixed by a good locksmith.
But that's not much consolation when it's cold outside and you're locked out, or you're leaving for work in the morning but can't lock the door.
Whatever the problem, though, you can almost guarantee it will happen at the most inconvenient time!
So, with that in mind, here are the top 10 door lock problems you might encounter - and more importantly, what to do about them - either to stop them happening in the first place, or to get them fixed as quickly as possible if they do happen.
If you’re trying to open a door with a lock that just won’t budge, it can be surprisingly easy to use too much force (especially if you’re in a rush) and snap the key off in the lock. Not good!
So the first thing to do is to make sure your locks are looked after and work properly. Assuming that you’re past that point, though, and are now have half a key in your hand, what’s the best thing to do?
Here are seven ideas, using mostly household items, that you can try to remove a snapped key from a lock.
Tip: if you have some WD40 (or ideally dry PTFE lubricant) to hand, squirt some into the lock first to make the job a bit easier.
If your door isn’t latching properly, most of the time it’s because the latch is now too low in relation to the strike plate, due to the door (or even the house) moving and settling over time.
Here are four ways to fix the problem, starting with the easiest solution first:
This is probably the simplest one to deal with.
If your key won’t go into the lock then the chances are the key is damaged or bent. You’ll need to get a new key cut.
If it’s a newly cut key that won’t go in, then it might not have been cut properly. Giving the key a quick brush on a stiff wire brush will sometimes do the trick.
Or just take it back to place that cut it for you and they should recut it free of charge.
If your key isn’t damaged, bent or newly cut, then you’re probably trying to use the wrong key!
Unfortunately this is likely to be a problem with the lock mechanism itself.
If you’re a confident DIYer, then you might be able to remove the lock and check it for any failed or worn parts.
Youtube is always a great place to start if you’re not 100% sure how to proceed, but would like to have a go.
Failing that, you’re best bet will be to call a reputable locksmith and let them sort this one out for you.
Check out our article: 'How much do locksmiths charge?' for more information.
When was the last time you lubricated your locks? We’re guessing the answer is probably, ‘Never!’
If your key won’t turn in the lock, the most likely cause is a lack of lubrication.
If this happens to you, it’s important not to force the lock – otherwise you risk snapping the key off in the lock – not good.
While you can use WD40 or oil in an emergency, we don’t recommend its use in the long term. The reason for this is that dust and grit will end up getting stuck in the lock, which over time will cause more wear and tear. Eventually, the lock will fail at some point, and you’ll be stuck - again.
What you should use instead is a silicone or graphite lubricant. These will stop dust and dirt getting stuck in the lock.
Pro tip: Open your stuck lock with a pencil. In an emergency, you can use a pencil to lube your lock, because the ‘lead’ is actually made of graphite. Simply run the pencil up and down your key several times, on both sides, to get as much graphite as possible onto the key. Then insert the key back in the lock and try to turn it. You may need to repeat this process several times, but eventually the lock should open.
That’s it for part 1! Stay tuned for the second part of Top 10 door lock problems – and what to do about them, coming soon.
You might also like to take a look at these great resources:
My business partner, Mark Tinklin, and I run Secure Homes Security, a locksmiths covering Hertford, Ware, Potters Bar and all surrounding areas.
Our aim is to provide honest advice, excellent value and friendly service.
For a friendly, no-obligation chat about your project needs, just call or email:
Call: 01707 527133
Rob Staff (left) and Mark Tinklin of Secure Homes Security
Member since: 11th March 2014
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