Fixing a broken lock by yourself can be a tricky and time-consuming task; it’s usually best left to a professional instead!
Even the most handy DIY enthusiast can’t claim to be quite so competent when it comes to home door lock repair problems. Unlike other home-improvement task or quick-fix jobs, trying to repair a door lock on the spot could leave you in a lot more trouble than you started with. Locks are fiddly, tricky contraptions that don’t take kindly to being poked about, and breaking one permanently can be expensive to replace – especially if your interference has only gone and made things worse. To help you keep things simple, we’ve put together a quick article full of advice about what to do when your lock doesn’t work like it should, and how to go about hiring a professional who knows exactly what they’re doing.
Common Door Lock Problems
If you’re struggling to open a door or your key is frequently getting stuck in the lock, take some time to think about what might be causing the problem.
Are you using the right key?
It might sound a bit silly and obvious, but many household locks are broken because of simple mistakes like this one. Check and double-check just to be sure. If this proves to be the case, try to keep keys that look similar on different key chains or key rings in the future.
Is the door locked from the inside?
Again this sounds silly, but many people trying to enter their home don’t realise someone indoors has already locked the door, put the latch on, or left their own key in the lock on the other side. Ring the house to check nobody’s indoors before getting into a panic.
Can you get inside any other way?
If you can get inside via the backdoor or another open entrance, do so before calling out a locksmith. You might find that opening a front door from the inside will fix the problem (at least temporarily), or that something else is simply blocking your way in.
Entire Lock Cylinder Turns
A cylinder rotates out of position in the event that the setscrews, which are meant to secure it in place, come loose or broken.
Mortise lockset: Take off the faceplate (if you can observe that there is one) at the door’s brim, and locate the position of one or two cylinder setscrews. They should be in line with the midline of the cylinder. Fasten the setscrew(s) by turning clockwise ensure they interlace with the groove that runs along the edge of the cylinder (At this time the key slot should be perfectly vertical). Change the faceplate.
Surface-mounted rim lock: Unscrew and take off the cover, often called the “case.” Screw on the cylinder setscrews. Then return the case.
Watch the following useful video here
Lock Doesn’t Latch Properly
When you find that a door latch does not pop into position, it then generally means that the latch and the strike plate are out of sync. Tighten the hinge screws and then try realigning the strike plate by loosening its screws and, shifting it ever so slightly in a bid to find the right position.
Sometimes it’s easier to widen the slot in the strike plate by scraping it or filing it down a little bit so that it will smugly receive the latch. You will usually have to rivet the jamb while shifting the strike plate. Sometimes it’s necessary to replace the old strike plate with an adjustable one to be able to solve misalignment issues.
There are many reasons why a latch would stick; most of them are an easy fix though. You can check the tightness of the hinge screws. Off course if the door is out of alignment, the latch will likely bind. Check the knob and lock assembly for loose, particles, screws or misalignment. Lastly look carefully at the strike on the door jamb if it’s obstructed or out of sync, the latch won’t slide smoothly in and out.
Watch the following very useful video here
Deadbolt Is Stuck
When the dead bolt is stuck, then it’s likely the bolt is having difficulty in accessing the entrance to the strike plate. Ensure the strike plate is securely attached and well aligned with the bolt. You can scrape the fringes of the strike plate a bit with a file, and even slightly file down around the edges of the deadbolt’s end. Now if this doesn’t suffice, then you will have to take off the strike plate, fill in the screw holes with glue and wood matchsticks, trim level with the jamb, and reattach the strike plate securely.
Watch the following very useful video here
Don’t forget that very cold weather can cause locks to freeze. One of the best ways to thaw out a frozen lock is to use a warm key. The key can be heated atop a radiator, or warmed in hot water. Dry the key and insert it gently into the lock.
Benefits of Hiring a Locksmith
It might be tempting to save a bit of cash and see if you can fix a lock yourself, but more often than not this simply leads to a lot of wasted time and extra expense. Plus door lock repairs are a lot trickier than they might look on first sight. A professional tradesman will, after all, be able to:
- Provide all the necessary tools and equipment needed to complete the job safely and without further damaging the door lock or exterior frame.
- Spray graphite into a lock for lubrication to see if the lock can be fixed before starting on a costly replacement service.
- Fix any cracked u-PVC, wooden or plastic frames that have been damaged by a faulty lock during u-PVC door lock repairs.
- Replace any glass panels in doors where a jammed lock has caused cracks or hairline fractures to appear during patio door lock repair, u-PVC window lock repair or ordinary window lock repairs. This includes any embossed or glass-stained windows, and replacement double-glazing on all double-glazing door lock repairs.
- Tighten screws on door or window hinges where the lock has affected the existing latch and/or stability of the frame.
- Provide a new set of keys on the spot once the replacement lock has been installed.
- In cases where only a lock needs fixing or replacing, have the job finished and be off your property in less than a couple of hours.
- Follow-up any future lock problems for at least the next six-month period as soon as they arise, and often completely free of charge.
How to find a locksmith
To get the best door lock repair service possible, make sure you have already gone through the phonebook and looked up a number of different local and national contractors and tradesmen to find the most reliable service at the most competitive price.
Ask friends and relatives if they can recommend anyone who did a quick job that hasn’t needed any follow-up work too, and don’t be afraid to ring and ask for quotes before the problem even arises – in emergency situations like being locked out of the home it’s good to have a number at the ready that you can trust will be with you as soon as possible.