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Broken Lock: When to Fix It Yourself and 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 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.

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 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 at the hardware store 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.

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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