Did you go to unlock your exterior door only to find you can’t gain entry? Although it’s not an everyday occurrence, broken locks do happen more often than you think. Usually, there are simple fixes for a broken door lock.
Continue reading to learn why locks break and what common solutions may solve the issue. Also, learn what to do if none of these simple solutions work for your broken door lock.
Why Do Locks Break?
When you have a broken door lock, chances are high you’re not just frustrated but also confused. How did it break?
Sometimes there’s ample warning a door lock will stop working. It may begin by being difficult to turn the key, or the deadbolt may not turn as smoothly as it once did. Other times a door lock breaks, there isn’t any warning.
The good news is that a broken door lock is quite common. The even better news? It can generally be fixed quite easily, even if that means replacing the door lock entirely.
A few common reasons for a broken door lock include:
- the lock is old and suffering from natural wear
- the door has shrunk from weather and age
- the lock was picked or otherwise manipulated
- weather elements have worn down the lock
- the key is broken or damaged
- the lock has become broken from roughly shoving in key
- the lock is rusted
These are only a few of the most common reasons your door lock may not be working correctly. Read below for detailed information on how to figure out what common issue may be causing your lock to malfunction. Also, learn about what to do next if none of the solutions fix your problem.
Common Solutions for Broken Locks You Can Do Yourself
There are many standard solutions for broken locks you can do yourself. Most of them take a limited amount of time and only a little handyman experience. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, call a locksmith to help diagnose the issue for you.
Inspect the Bolt
The deadbolt or latch bolt on your door lock could have become damaged, loose, or misaligned. To inspect your bolt, open the door and try turning the lock. If the lock turns, visually inspect the bolt for damage.
If there is no apparent damage, close the door and try turning the lock again. If the lock turns easily when the door is opened but not when the door is closed, the bolt is likely the problem.
It’s possible to replace the bolt yourself without replacing the whole lock. If you can’t change the bolt yourself, you could either call a locksmith to assist you or replace the entire lock.
Check Door Alignment
Sometimes the lock isn’t broken, but instead, there is simply an alignment issue. When the door doesn’t correctly align with the door jamb or strike plate anymore, the lock won’t work.
You should try locking and unlocking the door when it is open and closed to check this issue. If there are no issues with locking and unlocking the door when it is opened, you may have an alignment issue.
The easiest way to fix this issue is by reinstalling your hardware. You can also try to widen the hole in your hardware on the door, so the bolt works. This can be tricky, however, and you may end up ruining the hardware anyway.
Ensure the Key Is Working Properly
If your key isn’t fitting into the lock or won’t turn it, the issue may be with the key versus the lock itself. Visually inspect the key for any damage or warping. If there are any issues, getting a new key made to fit your lock should solve the problem.
If you don’t see any obvious problems with the key, the issue may be that the keyhole has become clogged. You can try to clean out the keyhole, but you may damage it. Often, the best solution for a clogged keyhole is to simply replace the lock.
As locks get older, they tend to rust. This rust can build up inside the keyhole and any moving part of your lock. Sometimes, the rust becomes so bad you have no choice but to replace the lock and accompanying hardware.
Before you decide to replace a rusty lock, however, it’s worth trying to lubricate it. You can use either an oil-based or dry lubricant. Polish the doorknob and all other showing portions of your lock after.
If this doesn’t fix the problem, the lock may be beyond lubrication. It’s likely time to replace your door lock.
Try Fixing the Hardware Connections
If all else fails, fixing the hardware connections may be the solution you need. Sometimes, the connections of your lock hardware can become loose. Rarely, they may also become broken.
The only way to check this issue is to uninstall your lock and hardware. Then, reinstall it. If the lock works properly once finished, the hardware connections were likely to blame.
Less Common Solutions for Broken Door Locks
There are a few less common solutions for broken door locks you can feel free to try. These less common solutions are generally fairly obvious, although that isn’t always the case.
Check to See If Lock Is Frozen
If it’s wintertime and exceptionally cold, your lock could be frozen. If you see ice or frost accumulating around the lock or doorknob, this is likely the problem.
There are several different ways you can unfreeze a lock. One method is to heat the key using boiling water and then insert it slowly into the keyhole. If you have an extension cord long enough, you can also use a hairdryer to thaw the knob.
If you have an aerosol de-icer on hand, you can use this to unfreeze your lock. Follow the instructions on the aerosol device precisely to ensure safety.
Consider Whether the Lock Has Been Picked
Has your lock recently been picked? If someone attempted to break into your home, they likely tried to pick the lock. You or another person who lives in the house may have picked the lock when they forgot their keys.
When a lock is picked or otherwise manipulated, it’s common for the internal mechanisms to become damaged. When this happens, your only option is to replace the lock. The possibility of damaging a lock is why you should always call a locksmith during a residential lockout.
Inspect Lock for Storm or Weather-Related Damage
Did your area recently experience a severe weather incidence? Severe weather can include major thunderstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes, or blizzards. In some areas, this could extend to include forest fires or earthquakes.
Any of these severe weather events have the potential to damage your home’s lock. Often, the damage is extensive and obvious. Sometimes, the damage isn’t so obvious.
If you determine that a storm or other natural event has caused your lock’s damage, replacement of your lock is usually required. If you want to know whether you can simply replace part of the lock, you can call a locksmith to have the lock inspected.
Still Can’t Fix It? Call a Locksmith
If none of the above solutions worked to help fix your lock, don’t fret. You can call a local locksmith company to come out and assist you. A locksmith will be able to let you know what the problem is and also fix it for you.
How to Find the Right Locksmith for Your Project
Many people have never had to hire a locksmith, so they aren’t sure how to find the right one for their project. One of the best ways to start is a simple internet search. Type “residential locksmith near me” into the query bar of your favorite search engine.
A listing of companies that service your area should appear. Make a note of each of these names, and then cross-reference them a review site. Review sites allow customers to leave reviews of companies they’ve previously used. If a company has mostly negative ratings, cross them off your list.
Look at the websites of the companies still on your list. Double-check that they offer residential services, including repairing or replacing the locks on your home. See how long they’ve been in business.
You want to look for companies that have been in business for several years. This shows commitment and experience. If you still have more than one locksmith on your list, call and ask for a quote.
Although it can be tempting to choose a locksmith company based on price alone, it’s essential to look at other things first. True, one company may offer a much lower price than another. But if the cheaper company has abysmal ratings, you’ll likely hire a second company to fix the first job.
Do You Have More Questions About Fixing a Broken Door Lock?
The information above should help you figure out why your door lock isn’t working correctly. It may also help you find an easy solution to the problem.
Do you have more questions about fixing a broken door lock?
Contact us today. One of our associates would be happy to answer any questions you still have.