If your door lock suddenly stops working, you may experience a range of feelings from annoyance and frustration to worry and fear. After all, your lock is your last line of defense against intruders. Depending on which side of the door you’re on, you may also find yourself unable to get inside your own home. Fortunately, most lock problems are relatively easy to fix. Here are some common reasons for locks to stop working.
The problem could be as simple as a misalignment between the latch bolt on the door and the strike plate on the door jamb. The bolt may be slightly above, below, or to either side of the plate. You may be able to simply remove a couple of screws and move the strike plate, or you might need to reposition the door.
Key Won’t Turn
First, double check that you are using the right key. Many keys look similar, and it is not unusual to mix them up. If you are sure the key is correct, the lock could be dirty and filled with debris. During winter weather, it could literally be frozen. Try using a de-icing agent to thaw a frozen lock, or lubricate a dirty lock with graphite. You may need to put the key in and jiggle it around a few times to loosen up the lock.
Another possibility is that the key is worn down. Over time, the edges of a key can become too smooth to turn the lock. If you have a duplicate, see if it works, and then replace the key that is no longer working. Likewise, a brand new key could have rough spots left over from the manufacturing process that could get stuck in the lock. Carefully file down those spots, taking care to remove only the tiniest bit of metal at a time.
Lock Cylinder Turns
If the entire lock cylinder turns when you turn the key, the set screw is loose or broken. Take off the faceplate, tighten or replace the set screw, and put the cylinder back together.
A stuck deadbolt could indicate a misaligned strike plate. The other possibility is that the internal mechanism has become damaged. In this case, it will need to be repaired or replaced.
If your key breaks inside the lock, you have a couple of options. First, try to grip the key with a pair of needle nose pliers and gently pull it straight out. If that fails, remove the lock cylinder. Push a stiff wire into the cam slot on the back to force the key out.
Lock problems can be annoying, frustrating, and worrying. If you are reasonably handy, though, you can fix many simple lock issues on your own. For more complex problems, it is always a smart idea to have a trusted professional locksmith standing by.
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If you are ready to form a relationship with a reliable, trustworthy locksmith, contact Texas Premier Locksmith today at (866) 948-8188.