General Fixes for a Deadbolt Lock
Most deadbolt locks work the same, although the look and style of a deadbolt lock can vary. Deadbolt locks typically last a long time and a little maintenance will prevent having to replace the lock prematurely. Fixing the lock yourself will be cheaper than buying a new one or having a professional come to your house to repair the lock. Most deadbolt lock fixes are do-it-yourself projects that can be completed in a few minutes.
One of the first things to look at when a deadbolt lock is not working properly is the key. Keys can get worn down after years of use and may not work properly. A new key can be made at most home-improvement and hardware stores, and even some department stores. A new key is very inexpensive, usually only a couple dollars, and may make the lock work better.
Another common problem with deadbolt locks is that they can stick, making them troublesome to lock and unlock. Simply spray some WD-40 into the key hole and on the locking mechanism on the side of the door. Then, lock and unlock the door several times to distribute the oil throughout the lock. Repeat the process if necessary.
When checking for issues as to why a deadbolt lock isn’t working correctly, make sure the bolt does extend fully into the mortise beneath the strike plate, which is usually one full inch. If it doesn’t, it reduces the safety level of the lock and should be fixed. It is also an easy fix that requires the removal of the strike plate. A drill can then be used to deepen the mortise. Replace the strike plate and test the lock.
When houses settle, doors and door frames can become misaligned. If a deadbolt lock is not working properly, take a look at the alignment of the bolt lock and the strike plate. To line up the lock and the strike plate so that the lock goes into the hole easily, try filing around the edge of the actual lock and the strike plate. File only the sides that are needed in order to have a proper fit for the lock.
If misalignment is still an issue, the strike plate will have to be removed. Use wood putty to fill in the holes. To get the putty deep into the holes, use a pencil to push it in. Let the putty dry and then sand it until smooth and flush with the wood. Temporarily position the strike plate to mark where the new bolt hole needs to be. Drill a new hole for the bolt and then screw the strike plate back into the frame, in the appropriate position.
If the strike plate must be removed to fix a deadbolt lock, consider replacing the screws. Most deadbolt packages come with short screws that only secure the plate to the trim. Replace the screws with three-inch wood screws that will penetrate the door frame for greater break-in protection.