Troubleshooting Your Deadbolt Lock

What You'll Need
New or spare key to the deadbolt lock
WD-40 or other graphite or silicone lubricant
Canned Air
Old Toothbrush

If you are experiencing problems locking or unlocking a deadbolt lock, it is often better to simply replace the deadbolt lock rather than try to repair it. However, there are a couple of situations where you will be able to quickly diagnose and correct minor problems with the deadbolt lock. In order to correctly diagnose potential problems with a deadbolt lock, you first need to know how to properly troubleshoot the lock. The following is a handy guide to help you troubleshoot problems with your deadbolt lock.

Step 1 – Check the Set Screws

First, grasp the inner and outer cylinders of the deadbolt lock and see if they move slightly or wobble. Many times, set screws may become loose in the deadbolt lock which will result in the locking mechanism moving slightly out of alignment. Take your screwdriver and make sure that the set screws are tightened securely. If this is not the problem, continue on to step two.

Step 2 – Try another Key

Over time, the key to your deadbolt lock will become worn and no longer be able to push up pins and tumblers in order to turn the lock plug inside the cylinder. So, try a new key for the deadbolt lock or a spare that you may have. If you are still having difficulty locking and unlocking the deadbolt lock, continue on to step three.

Step 3 – Clean and Lubricate the Deadbolt Lock

If a new key didn't fix the problem, you'll need to disassemble the deadbolt lock and check to make sure that there is no dirt, dust or grime inside the cylinders, key plug or locking mechanism. To do this, simply remove the set screws on the inner cylinder of the door. Then, separate the two cylinders from the inside and outside of the door by pulling them straight out.

Next, remove the locking assembly and bolt. Take your canned air and blow away any dirt and dust that may have accumulated inside the cylinders or locking assembly. Then, take your old toothbrush and scrub the various parts of the deadbolt lock. Finally, apply a thin layer of WD-40 or other graphite or silicone-based lubricant to help loosen the locking assembly and key plug. If you're still having problems opening and closing the deadbolt lock, go to step five.

Step 4 – Check the Alignment of Bolt and Strike Plate

Make sure that the bolt and a strike plate cover on the doorjamb are evenly aligned and that the bolt easily enters the strike plate. Sometimes, door hinges may move slightly and need to be retightened. Also, you may be able to slightly file the inside of the strike plate so that the bolt can easily enter it.

Step 5 – Consider a New Deadbolt Lock

If none of the above steps corrected a problem with locking and unlocking the deadbolt lock, you will need to purchase a new lock. Visit a local home improvement store and purchase a lock that closely matches the one that is currently installed – it will be much easier to install.