You come home after a long day of work and fumble for your keys. You finally find them and insert the right one into the keyhole.
It doesn’t turn.
You jimmy the key around in the lock, hoping to get it open. You turn the doorknob harder, thinking the door itself might be stuck.
You have a broken lock and no idea how it happened.
This situation is more common than you’d think. Locks break all the time, to one degree or another. There are plenty of solutions for repairing your lock, including replacement.
Continue reading to learn the best solutions for your broken lock. Also, learn how locks break and who to call if you need professional assistance.
How Do Locks Get Broken?
Checking how well your locks are working probably isn’t high on your annual to-do list. It might not make your list at all. Locks and keys can work for years without any outside interference, so it’s easy to allow them to fall into disrepair.
Locks can get broken in many ways.
The most common way is time. Over time, your locks get a lot of use. Constant use gradually wears down the different parts of your lock.
When the locks wear down, it starts malfunctioning. It may not break right away. Instead, it may become difficult to turn.
There are other ways your locks can become broken.
If there was an attempted break-in, your locks could become damaged in the process. If you try picking the lock yourself, such as when you lock your keys inside, you can damage the internal locking mechanisms.
If the locks weren’t installed the right way, they might not work. Or they might create excessive wear and tear on different parts of your door.
Roughly jamming your keys inside the lock is another culprit. Rough use can damage both the key and the lock itself.
Even severe weather can be to blame. If the wind is high enough, it can cause objects to knock into the doorknob. Or debris can clog the keyhole.
These are only a few examples. Locks, like everything else in your home, can become damaged in a multitude of different ways.
Signs You Have a Broken Lock
Sometimes, a broken lock is obvious. Other times, the signs may be more subtle. Generally, you can tell a lock is broken by any of the following:
- The door isn’t closing the way it’s supposed to
- The key won’t fit into the lock anymore
- The key fits in the lock but won’t turn it
- The deadbolt no longer turns or gets jammed
- The key gets broken in the lock
- It’s challenging to turn the key in the lock (but not impossible)
- You have to push on the door to lock it
These are only a few of the most common signs your lock is no longer working the way it’s supposed to. In some cases, the lock isn’t broken yet. Instead, it might be starting to break.
In circumstances where the lock is starting to break, it’s best to address the issue right away. It’s often easier (and less costly) to fix a breaking lock versus one that has already broken. But why does it matter if your lock isn’t working correctly?
Why It Matters If Your Lock Isn’t Working Properly
You might not think about your locks most of the time. Even using the locks when you leave home has become second nature. But locks are so important.
The locks on your doors are your primary defense against intruders. Consider how easy it would be for a burglar to enter your home if the door wasn’t locked. They’d only need to turn the knob and enter your home.
That’s a frightening thought.
Locks won’t always prevent burglaries from happening on their own. But they do make it much more difficult. They’ll also deter “lazy” thieves if the locks are difficult to pick.
Now that you know some background information, here are the 7 best solutions for a broken lock.
1. Check the Bolt
Sometimes, the lock itself isn’t broken, but the bolt has become damaged or bent. If this occurs, the door won’t lock the way it’s supposed to because the bolt isn’t sliding into the frame.
Open the door and visually inspect the bolt when it’s in the extended position; it should be straight. The surface should be smooth with little to no chips, marks, or scratches.
If everything appears to be okay, turn the lever to extend and retract the bolt a few times. Does it move smoothly in and out of the door?
If it doesn’t, you likely have an issue with the bolt. If it does, the bolt isn’t your issue. You can continue checking the other issues.
It’s possible to repair the bolt alone, without having to replace the entire lock. This is a tricky process, however, so it’s highly recommended you get professional assistance.
2. Check the Alignment
Your lock might not be broken at all. Instead, it could be the alignment is off. This refers to how the parts of your lock on the frame and door line up with each other.
There is an easy way to check the alignment of your lock. Pull the door open and inspect the locking mechanism. This could be the doorknob or a deadbolt.
If the lock works better when the door is open, you likely have an alignment issue. If it still doesn’t work correctly, this isn’t your issue.
If you find you have an alignment issue, you’ll need to fix the mechanism on your jamb. Alternatively, your door itself may be crooked and need fixing. The best option for this issue is to call a locksmith to assist.
3. Fix the Connections
The connections are all the little pieces that hold your lock together. With time, these connections will naturally start to loosen. The more often the door is used, the quicker these connections will become loose.
You might be able to get away with only tightening them, but this doesn’t always work. Why? There are internal connections that might need tightening too.
To fix this issue, you usually need to uninstall your lock entirely. Then, reinstall it. The connections should be fixed.
If this doesn’t fix the issue, it wasn’t your connections to blame. This can be frustrating because reinstalling the locks can be time-consuming. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to tell if this is the cause otherwise.
4. Check for a Clogged Keyhole
The keyhole can accumulate a lot of dirt, dust, and grime over time. With external locks, this can happen due to the elements. With internal locks, dirty keys are usually the culprit (although not always).
Checking for a clogged keyhole is simple. Attempt to insert your key into the lock. If it slides completely in without issue, a clogged keyhole isn’t your issue.
If the key doesn’t slide all the way in, try cleaning out the keyhole. An easy way to do this is with a compressed air canister. This option won’t work if there are solid objects wedged into the keyhole, however.
If something substantial is blocking your key’s path, it can be challenging to get out without damaging the locking mechanisms. In most cases, you’ll need to replace your lock at this point. A professional locksmith might be able to clear the keyhole, but this still isn’t a certainty.
5. Inspect Your Key
Maybe your lock isn’t the problem at all. Instead, it might be your key.
Visually inspect your key for signs of damage or wear. If the key appears thin, it might no longer turn the locking mechanisms properly. If the key has been bent, chipped, or otherwise damaged, it also might not work.
If you find your key is the issue, the simplest solution is to have a new set made. So long as your faulty key didn’t damage the lock, everything should work properly with your new set.
6. Lubricate the Lock
Rust can build up inside the different parts of your lock over time. You can temporarily solve this by applying a dry or oil-based lubricant to all the movable parts of your lock.
Keep in mind this isn’t a permanent solution. You’ll need to lubricate the lock again at regular intervals to keep it moving once enough rust has built up to cause an issue. Sometimes, homeowners prefer to simply replace the lock at this point.
7. Replace the Lock
If none of these simple fixes worked, it’s time to replace the lock. Replacing the lock may be more costly than the solutions above. Still, it guarantees things will begin operating the way they’re supposed to.
Call a Locksmith for Assistance
If you need your lock replaced, it’s highly recommended you call a locksmith for assistance. If you aren’t a handyman, you may want to call a locksmith from the start instead of checking the above solutions yourself.
A locksmith is a lock and key expert. They have the skills, tools, and experience necessary to get your locks back in working order.
How to Find a Great Locksmith Near You
There are a few different methods you can take to finding a great locksmith near you. You must find a company that will do the job right because your locks are one of your primary home security measures.
Ask for Recommendations
Ask people you know and trust for recommendations on locksmith companies they’ve used previously. You may want to ask friends, family members, and coworkers. Your neighbors may also be a good source of information.
Check Online Review Sites
If you don’t want to ask for recommendations, you can check online review sites. These websites allow customers to rate different companies they’ve done business with.
You want to look at a company’s overall rating. A four or five-star company is generally among the best in the business.
One thing you want to make a note of is that one or two bad reviews don’t mean the company is terrible. It’s impossible to please everyone, after all. It’s when the majority of reviews are negative that you should steer clear of any company.
The way most customers were treated is an excellent indicator of how you’ll be treated. It can also give you a clear idea of how well the locksmith company in question does their job.
Check Their Website
You can also look at their blog posts to get a feel for their company. Are their blog posts helpful? Do they help address lock-related issues you might have?
Make the Phone Call
If everything looks good, give your local locksmith company a phone call. If you have any questions, the person who answers the phone can help you with them. If you’re ready to have a locksmith come to your home, they can dispatch someone to help you.
Usually, a locksmith can be at your location quickly. It’s also possible to schedule an appointment if you have a different preferred time. You will generally need to be home when a locksmith is fixing your locks.
Do You Have More Questions About Whether to Repair or Replace Your Broken Lock?
Locks can become broken in many different ways. Sometimes, they can be fixed through one of the solutions offered above, while other times, they need to be replaced entirely. It’s highly recommended you call a professional locksmith to help with your lock’s repairs or replacement.
Do you still have questions about whether to repair or replace your broken lock? Or do you need a professional locksmith to assist with a broken lock?
Contact us today. One of our associates would be happy to answer any questions you may have. They can also dispatch a locksmith to assist you with broken locks or other lock-related issues.