It’s said that cars last an average of about 11 years these days. And while this long lifespan is partially due to better manufacturing methods and better materials used to create today’s automobiles, it goes without saying that you have a lot to do with this as well. After all, if you’re not doing your part to get regular oil changes, tire rotations, tune ups – as well as having it serviced for preventative and immediate maintenance – chances are it’s not going to last nearly that long, at least not without doing some serious damage to your bank account.
While it might seem odd to draw parallels between commercial door locks and automobiles, locks require a similar maintenance plan if they are to last up to the 20 or so years that they’re expected to. Like your car, locks are something that you come across and access every day. And, like your car, they may take a lot of abuse. Instead of potholes, rain and snow, locks often have to endure the strain of slamming doors and keys going in and out of them. A new lock may not be as expensive as a new car, but you likely invested a decent penny in your current lock, so why would you neglect caring for it so you have to buy a new one?
With all of this being said, just what is the best way to maintain and care for your commercial door locks? Here’s a closer look:
Not to keep using a car analogy here, but think about why you change the oil in your car every 3 months or 3,000 miles – not just because the oil is old, but to also remove any dirt, grime or contaminants that have accumulated in it. Lubricating your locks should be done at a similar frequency, once every quarter or so (or at the very least once a year), as it helps remove the dirt and debris that could potentially jam a lock. We know it can be tempting to reach for that can of WD-40 to do this, but these types of products can actually work against your lock over time, drawing more dirt, grime and debris to it. So opt for either graphite or Teflon lubricants instead for the best results – and don’t forget to apply lubrication to the latch, bolt and hinges too.
This is perhaps the easiest care and maintenance tip to take care of, simply because it’s also among the most obvious. If your door locks wiggle when you’re accessing it, then they’re loose. And loose door locks don’t just pose a potential security threat, but also a potential safety threat, as errant screws or other door hardware could lead to minor injury.
One thing that many people don’t realize is that the keys they’re using to access doors have a much shorter lifespan than the actual lock that they’re accessing. Using a worn or damaged key can lead to accelerated wear and damage to the lock. Here’s another thing that you’re likely unaware of – spare keys that are made aren’t exactly like the original – there’s some variance. What’s more is that spare keys made from spare keys are even less like the original. The lesson here is that you should make several spare keys after installing a new lock based on the original key, as these spares will be the closest to the actual thing, rather than making spare keys of spare keys, which may present issues accessing door locks. Store these spare keys in a secure area so you don’t have to worry about losing them, and then begin using them at the first signs of wear to the existing key.
While this tip isn’t incredibly necessary to the functionality of a lock, the fact is that commercial locks are among the first things that many customers and would-be customers see when they approach your business – and you know what they say about first impressions. So go ahead and clean your door locks every now and then, using either a very mild soaping agent or just water (you don’t want to use anything too strong or you’ll risk damaging the finish). You may surprised at the difference it makes.
This is a tip for cold weather situations where the lock may have frozen up, making it difficult to access. Your first reaction may be to just jam the key in anyway and force it to open. But that’s not good for the lock or your key. Instead, pick up a tube of commercial lock de-icer, a specialty product that can instantly resolve any frozen lock issue without damage. Or if you’re really in a pinch, you can heat up the key by boiling it in a pot of water or setting it on the engine of your car to heat, then inserting it into the lock. If you choose one of the latter methods, just be sure to use gloves or tongs to remove it to avoid injury.
As you can see, locks require a fair amount of attention. Much of this maintenance and care you can do yourself, but there may also be some instances where you’ll have to call on a professional locksmith to repair an existing lock or replace an old lock. That’s where Great Valley Lockshop can help you, as we’re experienced professional locksmiths that specialize in all situations and with all different types of locks.