Worn master key?

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  #1  
Old 04-26-19, 03:16 PM
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Worn master key?

I seem to have quite a few lock problems these days.

I have a rental property with four apartments A,B,C & D. All Schlage F series locks deadbolts and keyed entry knobs.

I have one key for each apartment, and I have a master key that works for all the apartments. This has worked fine until recently when my master key would open apartments A, C and D fine, but would not open apartment B.

Now if I try and jiggle the master key, one out of thirty times it may work.

The key to apartment B works fine. No issue. Just the master key.

so logic tells me the master key may be kind of worn, so I took out the original master key that was cut two years ago, that has not been used, and that key has the same problem. So it couldn't be the master key that is wearing?

If not, then the issue could be the pins inside apartment B's lock cylinder? But then if that's the case wouldn't the apartment key have trouble too? I am only having problems with the master key, on both the deadbolt and the keyed entry below it.

Any idea what could be causing this?

 
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Old 04-26-19, 04:34 PM
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When you have a master key system, at least one of the pins inside each lock is now in two pieces so that two different keys can open it. Some of these end up being very thin. My first thought would be to take apart the lock on door B and make sure everything looks good inside. If you've never taken a lock down to the springs and pins before, might want to pull up a video as it's no fun when the pieces start falling and flying all over the place and you have no idea where they go back.
 
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Old 04-26-19, 04:54 PM
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Some master key systems use 6 tumblers but use standard 5 pin keys for individuals and the master key additionally uses the 6th pin. It sounds like the 6th pin is damaged on that lock.
 
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Old 04-26-19, 04:56 PM
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You'll have to take it apart....any number of things could have happened to cause this...1) dirt, or foreign matter, 2) master pin got wedged sideways, 3) collapsed or broken spring, 4) abuse/mistreatment, 5) incorrect pinning, and 6) a savvy tenant removing a master pin to disable the master key. Heavy wear could be a factor too, as the F series cylinders are (or used to be) made of die-cast metal rather than brass.
 
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Old 04-26-19, 05:29 PM
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Unless there's been a recent change, the F series cylinders are 5-pin only. And I just remembered a unique quirk about these cylinders: the spring cap is "expanded" inside the knob (not sure about lever models) such that it has to be "compressed" in order to remove it from the knob...your pinning should still be done by removing the plug from the shell, as the spring cap is not designed to be removed.

And I think PJ may be thinking of the Schlage Large Format Removable Core 6-pin cylinders that require a longer Control Key, to actuate the "7th pin" to allow core removal. I'm not aware of standard pin-tumbler locks that use a longer master key, tho.
 
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Old 04-28-19, 12:39 AM
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so it could be a lot of things...and I am not sure if I try to take a lock apart I would be able to put it back together.

I am also puzzled by why both the deadbolt and keyed knob (they are keyed alike) are having trouble with the master key and yet the dedicated apartment B key has no trouble.

So if I take the locks (deadbolt and keyed entry both), key to apartment B, and the master key to the locksmith, he should be able to figure it out?
 
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Old 04-28-19, 03:49 PM
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OK, let me see if I have this right - both of the locks on B are working fine with their dedicated key but both are being finicky with not only your usual master key but also with the one which normally sits in a drawer and is not worn down from use?
 
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Old 05-04-19, 08:48 PM
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Both Apt B locks could have been pinned incorrectly, or this apt may have gotten more use, abuse etc. Yes a smithy can take it apart and see why it's being difficult.
 
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Old 05-31-19, 09:31 PM
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OK, let me see if I have this right - both of the locks on B are working fine with their dedicated key but both are being finicky with not only your usual master key but also with the one which normally sits in a drawer and is not worn down from use?
That is correct.

I have the dedicated apartment B key and the master key for A, B, C, D.

The dedicated apartment B key (which was rarely used because I always used the master key) works fine, smoothly, no issue whatsoever.

My tenants dedicated apartment B key, which was copied from my dedicated B key, which she uses several times a day, for at least 3 years, works as well.

Yet my master key, which used to work on A, B, C, D is now having issue with B only, no issue with A, C, D. If I keep trying, I may get the master key to unlock (turning the key clockwise) after 30 tries, but I won't be able to get it to lock (turning the key counterclockwise).

This is happening to BOTH the deadbolt and the knob below and they are keyed alike.

I called the locksmith to come figure this out today.

He tried my dedicated B key, works. Tried the master key, doesn't work. He took the lock apart and went back to his van.

He came back after 10 minutes, said the lock is a bit worn, and the master key is "cut too deep" which I have no idea what that means.

He then put the locks back on the door. Once on the door, and tightened, the master key does not work again. He said it was working flawlessly inside his van. He said some four letter words and went back to his van.

Then a few minutes later he came back and put the locks back on. Now the dedicated B key works (which it did in the first place). The master key works, kind of, if you hold the knob still and insert the key then lift it slightly before you turn it. He said this is the best he can do, and collected $125.

After he left, I tried the master key again. I would say following his instructions, hold the knob still, insert the key, lift the key slightly, turn, and it it doesn't work, jiggle it a little and try again, one out of every two times I am able to unlock it. One out of every ten times I am able to lock it.

I am just about pulling my hair out. Should I just get a new set of locks for B?
 
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Old 05-31-19, 10:32 PM
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If the master key wasn't working in any of the other units, I would suspect the key. Given that it only doesn't work in B and both your normal use and hardly used versions have the same problem lead me to suspect the locks. I would start with new locks but you'll have to get someone with some expertise to key them for you since they're mastered keyed; the guy at Home Depot may not be able to do it. That said, I think I would try a different locksmith....
 
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Old 06-04-19, 10:07 AM
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At this late juncture, I'll ask if the problem locks are the same brand as the ones with no problem... some off-brand locks, even though they may have a compatible keyway, may not master key very well...nevertheless, as stickshift said, replace the locks and, don't use Mr. "Cut Too Deep" again. Obviously, it's not "cut too deep" if it works fine in the other locks.
 
 

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