5 Common Ways a Door Lock Is Broken

unlocking door

A door lock is a hard-working piece of equipment, but it often goes unnoticed. However, when it breaks, you can end up shut out of your own house, or unable to secure your home.

In order to fix this problem, you need to identify exactly what is wrong with your door lock. Here are some potential problems and their solutions:

1. The Lock Has Seized Up

If you can put the key in the lock but cannot to turn it, the lock may have seized because dirt or grime has gotten caught in the mechanism. To clean the lock mechanism, insert a damp cotton swab into the keyhole and jiggle it around to attract the dirt. Next, the lock needs to be lubricated. Never use oil for this task. Instead, choose a purpose-made graphite or silicone spray with a directional nozzle. When you have applied the spray to the keyhole, insert the key and wiggle it in the lock to distribute the lubricant evenly.

2. Weather Stripping Caused Lock Malfunction

Weather stripping may cause the door lock to be misaligned and prevent the door lock from functioning properly. If this is the case, remove the weather stripping and place the stripping further back on the door frame. This is a far easier solution than moving the lock.

3. Frozen Lock

If the weather is very cold, don’t discount the possibility that the lock might have frozen. The best way to thaw out a lock is to insert a heated key into it. Warm the key by placing it on top of a radiator or in a bowl of hot water. Using gloves, dry the key and insert it slowly into the lock.

4. Door Latch Does Not Catch Shut

If the bolt is misaligned with the strike plate, the latch won’t catch when the door is shut. If the misalignment is minor, try filing down the latch plate a little to see if it will accept the latch. It may be that the gap in the latch plate is too shallow and that the mortise needs to be deeper for the lock to work effectively. If neither of these solutions works, you will have to unscrew the strike plate and reposition it.

5. Key/Doorknob Turns but the Lock Bolt Does Not Operate

If the lock is just not operating when you turn the key, the problem is with the mechanism itself. In this case, remove the lock and examine it to see if you can find any missing or worn parts. Unless the problem is obvious, it is best to replace the entire lock. Locks are not expensive, and replacing the entire lock will take less time than fiddling with the parts of the existing lock.