Blog Post

Simple Solutions for Locks That Stop Working

  • By Admin
  • 18 Apr, 2018
Door Lock
Your door locks are meant to keep unwanted people out of your home, but they're not meant to keep you out when you have a key. Yet sometimes it certainly seems like it when a deadbolt or doorknob lock stops working, stranding you outside.

Most of the time, a simple reason explains this situation, as well as a simple fix. But unless you recognize the symptoms immediately, you may have to go through a few steps to eliminate each possibility. Once you find the cause, fixing the problem should be easy.

Check the Screws

With time, the screws holding the door locks can come loose. If they get too loose, the lock's interior mechanism can become misaligned, making it harder to unlock the locks. If the lock does seem loose, try tightening the screws.

If that doesn't work, you could disassemble the lock and inspect the parts if you know what you're doing. But if you're unfamiliar with how locks work and how to uninstall them, you're better off calling a locksmith to have the mechanism checked out and repaired.

Clean the Lock

If the whole lock itself seems fine but the key sticks out or isn’t able to go into the keyhole, the problem could just be dirt gumming up the works.

Take a lubricant (such as WD-40) and spray it into the keyhole. The lubricant should include a small straw included to help your aim, though if you don't have that, you can spray the lubricant on the key, too, and insert the key into the keyhole. Hold a tissue under the lock to catch any drips.

The lubricant should work very quickly, but it will create a wet residue for a few minutes. When you take out the key, dry it off on the tissue. Reinsert and remove the key a few times, wiping off the key each time.

Sometimes the lock is so gummed up on the inside that you need to clean the interior of the entire lock. Unless you already know how to work with locks, have a locksmith handle this if the lubricant was not enough.

Watch the Bolt

If you can get the door open, close it slowly while paying careful attention to the bolt. The bolt is possibly misaligned with the strike plate on the door frame. Downward pressure on the doorknob can cause misalignment, which happens when people open and close the door while unconsciously pressing down on the knob. Pressing down also affects the hinges, often bending the top one a bit.

Another possible cause is that the house has settled just enough to make the door frameshift. In either case, the misalignment can make the bolt stick as it moves in and out of the mortise hole. You'll need to fix the hinges on the door and have a locksmith move the strike plate and create a new mortise hole.

Blame the Weather

The North County region and Vista, in particular, are blessed with some of the best weather in the United States. However, cool coastal fog and morning marine layers, as well as the occasional monsoonal moisture that makes it over to the coast from the desert, create humidity that can cause wood doors to swell.

Like the misalignment from downward pressure or house settling, the swelling can also jam the bolt in the mortise hole, making it difficult to retract. This can be a more difficult situation because now you're dealing with an environmental issue.

One solution is to replace the door with one that isn't wood. But another solution might be to have a locksmith enlarge the mortise hole and change the strike plate to accommodate the extra movement.

Vista Lock & Safe Co. can help you fix your stuck and misbehaving door locks. Whether you just need to have some dirt cleaned out of the lock or your locks are so far gone that you need them replaced, a professional locksmith company can solve your lock problems quickly. Call us today.
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Entry Locks

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