How To Repair an Electronic Lock
Technology is a great convenience right up until it stops working. Electronic locks, or smart locks are a homeowner’s best friend on most days. We don’t have to worry anymore about forgetting our keys, getting locked out, or rushing home to let someone in.
But what happens when the lock is broken or not working properly? That’s when many feel that innovative technology becomes their biggest foe. Find out how to make some small adjustments to get your smart lock working again.
Below we provide information on how to repair a jammed smart lock, an electronic lock with a faulty deadbolt, and one that has stopped working because of wear and extreme temperatures.
Troubleshooting Common Smart Lock Problems
First, you have to identify the issue. We have provided step-by-step instructions for two common problems that average homeowners may be able to fix without calling a locksmith. Read below if you suspect that your electronic lock is jammed or has a faulty deadbolt function.
Before moving forward with the diagnostic and repair process, make sure that your lock has fresh batteries. If battery-powered locks are running low, replacing the batteries can be an easy quick fix.
Fix Jammed Smart Lock
If your electronic smart lock isn’t working, it might be jammed. When this happens, it will often be able to engage the deadbolt in only one direction – either locking or unlocking the door. But it will be unable to move the deadbolt in the opposite direction. You may notice a clicking or grinding noise coming from the lock body when it tries to move the deadbolt.
Here are the steps to identify the problem.
- Before disassembling anything, test the lock a few times to understand which direction the smart lock is struggling with. Can it lock, but not unlock? Can it disengage the deadbolt, but makes a noise when trying to reengage it?
- Then, try to apply light pressure to overcome any motor friction and help it move the deadbolt into the locked or unlocked position.
- If you’re handy, you may be able to resolve the problem by taking off the backplate of the lock and resetting the gears.
- Once the backplate is unscrewed, be careful not to disconnect the wiring inside. It may be helpful to take a picture, at this point, of the internal gears in case you need guidance putting them back together.
- Remove the gears and axles.
- Then, use compressed air to gently clean the lock body and remove any dust or buildup which may be blocking normal function.
- Reset the gears and test the lock to see if the parts are able to move more smoothly.
- Then, reassemble the rest of the smart lock and reinstall it on the door.
Watch this video made by a DIYer while testing an August smart lock to diagnose a jam.
Fix Electronic Lock with Faulty Deadbolt Operation
With keypad-controlled door locks, some homeowners find that after some time the lock stops working. If the deadbolt does not disengage when the correct security code is keyed, this may be the problem you are facing. Here are the steps to find and repair the component which is causing it to malfunction.
- Start by removing the cover of the electronic lock body on the interior side of the door. Do this by unscrewing the cover of the lock and removing it.
- Once this section of the lock can be detached from the door, unplug the wires connecting it to the rest of the lock mechanism.
- Then, open the door and support the front half of the lock body on the exterior of the door, the part with the keypad, as you unscrew and disconnect the two parts. Then, take both sections of the lock off the door.
- Open the lock body by unscrewing the bolts holding together the exterior section of the electronic lock. At this point, you should be able to remove the face of the lock and the latch.
- Inside, you will find two more bolts holding the interior of the lock body together. Unscrew these as well. Then, remove the cover that they were holding in place.
- When this is open, you should be able to identify the problem and understand if it’s something that you are able to fix yourself.
- The most common problem is when the spring-loaded pin, in the moving part of the latch mechanism, falls out. If this is the case, there is a quick DIY fix. Simply, insert the pin back in position. The pin should be able to be pushed into the channel of the sprocket when pressure is put on the curved, plastic actuator hook.
- When the lock seems to work, put the components back together in the opposite order and screw each part in place as it was before.
- Reinstall the lock and test the keycode to see if it now engages the latch properly.
Watch the video to see how this handy DIYer fixed an electronic Schlege deadbolt lock.
Fix Electronic Lock Affected by Cold Weather
You may not expect it, but locks are affected by extreme temperatures. If the weather has changed rapidly in your area, this may be cause problems for your electronic lock. Cold weather or long-term use may cause the actuator not to move the other components enough to lock or unlock the bolt.
- Follow steps 1-6 from the section above to uninstall and open the electronic lock.
- With it open, key in the security code and test the lock. If you see that the actuator is not sliding all the way up, you have found out why it’s not working.
- To repair the problem, you will need to remove the plastic actuator hook. Hold in the spring-loaded pin and lift the plastic hook out.
- Now, you will be able to see a spring connected to the actuator. The spring may need to be tightened or replaced in order to get the electronic lock working again.
- Follow the reassembly steps outlined below.
This video shows you how to find the faulty spring in an electronic Schlage keypad lock.
Smart Lock Maintenance
How often should I change the lock batteries?
While battery life varies between smart lock, generally speaking batteries last anywhere from 6 to 9 months before expiring. Most smart lock models also have a way of notifying the user when batteries are running low, whether it’s a light on the device itself or a message that is sent to the user’s phone. If you really want to be proactive, we’d recommend changing out the batteries every six months or so, or every time you check your smoke detector’s batteries, which is recommended every six months.
How often should I change the lock code?
There’s really no recommended frequency at which to change your code, just situations that may warrant it. For instance, if you’ve just ended a relationship and your former significant other is now not living in the home, that’s a good time to change the code. If you’re on vacation for the week, but you’re dog sitter needs access to the home, consider setting a temporary code that expires after you’re back for this individual, should your lock model offer such. Bottom line: use common sense as to how often you need to change and adjust access codes.
Where should I store the backup key?
Most smart locks come with backup traditional keys, which can gain access the old-fashioned way. These are also used to rekey smart locks. On that note, you want to be sure that your backup key is in a place where you can easily access it at all times. Some ideal places include in your wallet, on a key ring with any other keys that you have and carry, and possibly even in a secure place in your car or garage.
Electronic Hardware Resources
Get more helpful information from your local expert locksmiths:
- Smart Locks vs. Traditional Locks
- What to Consider When Buying a Smart Lock
- Information about Security Failures Affecting Popular Smart Lock Models
- Best Electronic Key Finders
- Smart Home Technology
- Smart Garage Locks
- Commercial Smart Lock Systems
- Benefits of Electronic Access Control for Commerical Properties