Doors do a lot for us — they serve as portals to the world, blanket our buildings in security, and offer public-facing canvasses for signs and decorations. Yet despite frequent use, doors are often taken for granted. Inattention to door lock issues is understandable, as other priorities may take precedent. However, once a door lock starts to degrade, ignoring the problem often leads to more complex issues like lockouts. At Be Secure Locksmith, we handle lock repairs of every kind. Here are three of the most common types of lock issues we see, along with tips on how to avoid them.
1. Loose Handles & Locks
Over the years, door hinges, handles, and locks suffer wear and tear, and eventually they loosen up. Loose locks are a double-edged sword: they’re easy to fix (just tighten the screws), but also easy to ignore. For some people, a jiggly door handle or finicky lock may add to a home’s rustic charm. But in the long term, that loose lock grows prone to catastrophic failure. The longer you wait to repair it, the more likely you’ll find yourself stuck outside one day when the lock stops functioning. But don't worry — we offer emergency services for lockouts.
How To Fix A Finicky Lock
If you’re slowed down by a loose door handle or lock that requires persistent finagling, don’t wait for the problem to get worse. Take action by grabbing a screwdriver — most likely a Phillips head — and tighten the screws holding on the mechanism. In most cases, that’ll work. But if it doesn’t, or if handiwork isn’t your bag, put a locksmith on the job instead. After all, you’ll be better off spending a little now for locksmith services than paying up later for a new mechanism or door.
2. Misaligned Locks
A door lock works best when its deadbolt fits properly into the strike plate along the door jam. If the alignment of these parts is off even by a short distance, the lock will likely put up a fight — and sometimes it won’t work at all. A few of the most common ways locks get knocked out of alignment is from people yanking and pulling on the handles or aggressively swinging the doors open and closed; such behavior knocks the hinges out of whack, making the door cockeyed. But some doors aren’t symmetrical to begin with. Maybe they were installed improperly by the contractors or maintenance staff. The humidity in North Florida also warps the wooden doors and jams, which makes bolts and strike plates sit askew. A misaligned door lock demands extra effort — pushing, pulling, and lifting — to open and close. That added force may also lead to broken keys and mangled inner-lock components.
How To Line Up Your Lock
A misaligned lock is more than an inconvenience. It’s also a security risk, as it makes the door easier to bypass during a break in. To fix a lock that has poor alignment, first unscrew the mechanism until it’s loose enough to move around. Reposition it so the deadbolt and strike plate are aligned and then re-tighten the screws. A few test runs may be necessary before you set the final alignment. Sometimes adjustments to the lock itself are insufficient. In that case, you’ll need to loosen the door hinges and adjust the door so it’s parallel with the door jam. If those measures don’t resolve the issue, you’ll need to call a locksmith, who will fix or maybe even replace the mechanism. One thing you should never do is neglect a misaligned lock.
3. Broken Key In Lock
Keys often become brittle as they age, while older locks tend to rust from humidity, especially in Florida. This combination can be a recipe for disaster. A rusted lock is frozen into position. This means you’ll have to apply greater force on the key to budge the mechanism. In this case, the probability of a weak key breaking is high. With the key stuck in the lock, the door is effectively jammed. If you’re outside the home at the time, this creates quite the dilemma.
How To Remove A Broken Key
When dealing with a jammed lock caused by a broken key, you first should try to remove the piece of key that’s stuck in the lock. If part of the key is exposed outside the lock, use pliers to pull it out. Make sure to pull straight, as pulling the key at an angle could break the key again, leaving a smaller, harder-to-retrieve piece inside. If the broken part is completely concealed in the lock, you’ll need to call a locksmith. We use specially designed tools to remove the key without damaging the mechanism. You’ll also need to get a new key made. Typically, duplicate keys are copied from the originals. But obviously you won’t want two sets of busted keys. Fortunately, we have special techniques for copying broken keys (hint: we match the new key to the lock itself).
In addition to these lock repairs, you might encounter jammed latches or lock cylinders that turn but don’t release the deadbolt. Sometimes door lock issues are just annoying. Other times they’re enough to get you locked out of the house. At Be Secure Locksmith, we have solutions for all situations. To keep your home or business secure and accessible, call us today.