Troubleshooting Your Pin Tumbler Lock

A pin tumbler lock is also known as a “Yale” lock. If you are one who looks for increased home, office or personal effects safety and security, then chances are that you have probably installed a pin tumbler lock around your premises. This is a great lock for home or business use because it is very strong, sturdy and relatively cheap for its quality.

Pin Tumbler Lock Mechanism

A pin tumbler lock works quite simply. There is a mechanism of tumblers that lock together inside the lock. It can only be opened with a key that has teeth that match the set of tumblers perfectly. While this is perfect for homeowners who want to keep their property safe, this will pose a really big problem for the same homeowners should they find something wrong with their key.

Troubleshooting the Lock

If the pin tumbler lock does not open, first insert the key inside the lock. If the key turns fully, but does not unlock the mechanism, then chances are that the lock mechanism is broken. You can either repair the tumbler lock yourself, if you have the tools and the knowledge know-how. Otherwise, take it to your local locksmith, or buy a new pin tumbler lock if the cost of opening of the old lock is prohibitive.

If your pin tumbler lock is working perfectly, it may be just that there is something blocking the mechanism inside. It may be dust or dirt particles, in which case use a hand-held blow dryer to blow out the small particles. It may also be due to cold weather and water particles are forming into small pockets of ice inside the lock. Again, a blow dryer will work great in this case.

If there is nothing wrong with the lock, and it is perfectly clean, it can only mean that the problem lies with the key. If the key does not fit well, does not have the correct length, or has incorrectly filed teeth you may encounter problems turning the lock, or not able to open it at all. If this is the case, then the best recourse is to go back to the locksmith from whom you duplicated or bought the pin tumbler lock set and replace the key. If the key does work, but is having a bit of a problem turning, inject some silicon spray or graphite powder into the lock mechanism keyway to lubricate it. In this way, the key can slide in easier.

A constant frustration for homeowners is when a key snaps while inside the pin tumbler lock. If this occurs, then you can shake out the key if the lock is a bit loose. If not, get a pair of pliers and gently grasp the key end and slowly slide it out. Do not roughly slide it out because it may cause damage to the inside of the lock.