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How to Fix a Broken Door Lock? When to Call a Locksmith?

Door locks weren’t made to last forever. If a lock is no longer working as it should nor carrying out the important task it was designed for, it either needs to be fixed or replaced. Homeowners want to be sure, however, that any DIY intervention won’t make the problem worse.

When it comes to lock repair, there are two options: either head to the local hardware store for the tools and supplies necessary to try to fix it or call a professional locksmith. If you’re handy, some lock repairs can be done successfully without expert knowledge. If you’re unsure of what to do, however, relying on a professional locksmith is the only way to guarantee the work and proper lock function.

A broken lock can greatly jeopardize your home security. That’s why it is crucial to get it fixed and working effectively as soon as possible. Here’s a look at some common situations when a lock may become damaged or broken, and considerations for fixing it.

How to Fix a Broken Door Lock?

Fixing a broken door lock involves diagnosing the problem, figuring out the type of lock involved, and then taking the appropriate steps to resolve the issue. Here is a general guide to help you fix a broken door lock:

Diagnosis: Figure out what exactly is wrong with the lock. Is the key not turning? Is the knob not functioning? Is the lock cylinder turning without engaging the deadbolt?

  1. Loose Door Knobs/Handles: Sometimes the knobs or handles on doors might get loose and affect the lock’s functionality. In such cases, tightening the screws on the door hardware might fix the problem.
  2. Misaligned Latch or Bolt: Over time, the door frame or the door itself can warp, causing the latch or bolt to misalign with the strike plate. Adjusting/repositioning the strike plate can often resolve this issue.
  3. Key Won’t Turn in the Lock: This could mean that the key is worn out or the lock cylinder is jammed. Try to lubricate the lock with a graphite-based lubricant or WD-40. If this doesn’t help, the lockset may need to be replaced, or a locksmith could help fix the worn-out key or the problematic lock cylinder.
  4. Broken Key in Lock: If a key has broken off inside a lock, gently remove it using pliers or a broken key extractor. If unsuccessful, you may need to call a locksmith to prevent further damage to the lock.
  5. Faulty Internal Mechanisms: If the internal parts of the lock are worn out or broken, you’ll likely need to replace the entire lock.

Keep in mind that this guide is only for basic issues with common household locks. More complex lock systems, such as digital or smart locks, often require professional servicing. If you’re unsure or uncomfortable doing these repairs yourself, consider hiring a professional locksmith. Always remember that safety should be your utmost priority when dealing with door locks.

A broken lock can greatly jeopardize your home security. That’s why getting it fixed and working effectively as soon as possible is crucial. Here’s a look at some common situations when a lock may become damaged or broken and considerations for fixing it.

Types of Locks & Deciding If You Need Locksmith Services

Let’s dive into the nuances of these varied lock types and outline a step-by-step process to tackle lock issues. Each type of lock has its own set of specifications and potential issues that could arise, requiring a keen eye and the right tools in hand for effective troubleshooting.

Whether you’re dealing with a door that simply won’t lock, a key that refuses to budge, or a lock that’s mysteriously stopped allowing access, maintaining control over your home’s security starts with recognizing the problem and understanding the necessary steps toward a solution.

Jammed Door Lock

This is perhaps the most common lock problem to troubleshoot: when you can insert the key into the lock, but can’t to get the lock to turn. This frustrating situation can usually be prevented with a bit of preventative maintenance, but is tricky to resolve once it’s jammed. Forcing the key to turn in the lock may only further the damage to the door lock mechanism or cause the key to break off.

The lock has likely jammed due to an accumulation of dirt and dust. To resolve the issue, you can try several things. First, spraying compressed air into the key hole should help clear out the debris. Then, lubricate inside the keyhole using a penetrating oil with a spray straw. Don’t use just any oil or lubricant because they can actually pick up dust and grime, making the situation worse.

Watch this video for more information on the best types of lubricants to use for lock repairs.

If this doesn’t work, it’s best to call a locksmith to ensure the matter is resolved without further damage to the lock.

Frozen Door Lock

When the winter chill arrives, it’s common for locks to freeze up. It’s inconvenient, but luckily can usually be resolved on your own fairly easily. We recommend the following three tactics:

    1. Heat the key – Try warming the key in a pot of hot water or by placing it on the radiator of your car. Then, put gloves on and insert the heated key into the keyhole. As it slips in, it should melt the ice. You may have to reheat the key and repeat the process.
    2. Use aerosol de-icer – Spraying de-icer should melt any ice covering the lock.
    3. Blast the lock with a hairdryer – If you have an extension cord long enough to reach the exterior door, you can use a hairdryer to defrost the lock.

If these methods don’t do the trick, contact your locksmith for further assistance.

Learn more about How Changes in Temperature Affect Locks.

Faulty Lock Bolt

If the key or knob turns, but the lock doesn’t operate, there may be something wrong mechanically with the lock parts. It could be a result of age, wear, damage or tampering. In any case, a mechanical issue means that the lock must either be repaired or replaced.

For a standard residential lock, you can easily find a replacement from the hardware stores and do a DIY install. For a high-security lock or commercial lock, it’s best to have it opened up and repaired by a locksmith.

Picked Lock or Break-In

If your home has been broken into, there’s a good chance that the perpetrators manipulated the locks to gain entry. This means your locks may be damaged. After a break-in, many homeowners are left feeling that the locks are ineffective and not secure.

Ask a professional locksmith to assess your locks and home security following a break-in. They can repair and change existing locks. You are probably considering upgrading to locks with a higher security grade. A locksmith can advise you on better quality locks and other ways to keep your home more secure.

Learn How to Spot a Locksmith Scam.

How Much Does It Cost to Fix a Door Lock?

The cost to fix a door lock can greatly vary based on several factors such as the complexity of the lock, the nature of the repair, and whether you need to hire a professional locksmith.

If you’re handling a minor fix yourself, such as tightening loose components or lubricating the lock, your cost might simply be the price of purchasing a basic tool kit or a can of lubricant, which can range from $10 to $50, depending on the quality and brand.

On the other hand, if you need to hire a professional locksmith, the cost will be significantly higher. The national average for a locksmith service call can range from $50 to $100. Additional costs for labor and parts, if a lock needs to be replaced, can increase that amount. In general, residential locksmith services can cost between $50 to $200, depending on the job’s complexity.

For high-tech digital or smart locks, the cost could go even higher due to the specialized knowledge required to repair them.

Please note these are estimated costs and actual prices can vary based on the exact issue with the lock, and the specific lock type. Always consider getting quotes from multiple providers for major repair or replacement to ensure you get a fair price.

In some circumstances, while making minor adjustments or repairs to a faulty lock might be possible, it may be more cost-effective to purchase a new lock to replace the old one. Especially if your current lock is outdated, severely damaged, or has been repaired multiple times already, investing in a new, more secure lock could provide better value in the long run.

If you are uncertain whether to repair or replace a lock, consulting professional locksmith services can be of great help.

Local Professional Locksmith Services

For more information about broken locks and if you can fix it yourself or will require professional assistance, contact Great Valley Lockshop at (610) 644-5334 or fill out our free online estimate request. Since 1973, we’ve been serving home and business owners in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland.

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