4 Lock Problems Not Caused by the Lock
If you can’t get your door unlocked, the problem may not be the lock itself. Here we review four common problems that keep a door from opening, but which aren’t caused by the lock.
Broken Key Inside the Lock
Sometimes keys can break off in the lock. This is a bigger risk with older keys which have experienced a lot of wear over the years the lock. In this case, the problem is the key and the lock is probably still intact. It’s important to remove the piece of broken key because it will inhibit you from locking or unlocking the door. Plus, it could cause damage to the lock.
If a sufficient amount of the key is protruding from the lock, you should be able to pull out the broken part with the help of needle nose pliers. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that you will successfully remove the broken key if it’s hidden inside the keyhole. With some spray lubricant and a broken key extraction tool, you could try to pry the piece out. To avoid damaging the lock, however, it’s best to call a locksmith.
Expanding Door Frame
In the summer, you may have noticed that your door gets sticky or the lock jams. This problem is due to heat and usually only affects the exterior doors of a building. Rising temperatures can make a door or the door frame expand. Just a few fractions of an inch can be enough to cause misalignment and block the locking mechanism. The heat may also make it more difficult to open or close the door itself. This can be a more serious security issue if it keeps the door from latching properly or the deadbolt from sliding into the strike plate.
If this is an ongoing problem at your home or business, we recommend replacing the door and frame with a different material. Wooden structures tend to expand with increasing heat and humidity during the summer. Other materials, like aluminum or steel, will be less likely to show signs of thermal expansion.
Keyless Lock Battery Died
Smart locks are the latest technology to make big changes in the hardware industry. They are convenient for a number of reasons. Using smart locks, you can set up a keyless entry system at your home or office. This provides a report of who enters and exit the building and the relative timestamp. Plus, you can unlock the door remotely from anywhere using a simple app on your smartphone.
Review the owner’s manual for your particular smart lock as features vary between different brands and models. On most smart lock devices, a red flashing light will notify you when the batteries are low. You should also receive an alert from the smart lock app. It’s easy to prevent this problem, simply charge or replace the batteries when it’s time.
Unlocking a door with a smart lock when the batteries are dead is a more difficult problem to resolve. Again, you should check the owner’s manual before you encounter this type of problem so that you know exactly what to do. Every smart lock model should come with a standard key in case of emergencies. By inserting the key into the keyhole, you should be able to override the keyless system and unlock the door.
Frozen Door Lock
Following a winter storm or freezing rain, you may have the unlucky experience of finding your car or house door lock frozen. Being left out in the cold is never fun. But this problem is caused by nature, not your door lock. To avoid this problem, we recommend oiling your locks before the first frost of the winter. This will help the mechanical parts of the lock to move properly even in cold weather.
In order to open a frozen lock, there are three tricks you can try. First, you could try heating the key with boiling water or a heat gun. This may be a long process as you will have to continue applying heat to melt away layers of ice. Also, note that you will need gloves to protect your hands. Second, spraying de-icer into the lock should melt the ice rather quickly. You can find cans of this product at your local hardware store. Third, if you have an extension cord and a hairdryer, you can try to melt the ice from the lock.
Get more expert locksmith advice: How to Fix an Electronic Lock.
Have a Lock Problem? Ask a Locksmith
At Great Valley Lockshop, we’re happy to answer any questions you have about lock problems, smart locks and keyless entry systems. If you’re in a jam, our experienced locksmiths provide quick assistance. Contact Great Valley at (610) 644-5334 to schedule services or request a free estimate online.