Common Door Lock Problems and Simple Fixes
We cannot all go about trying to fix whatever door lock problems we encounter around the house but it can’t hurt to have an idea about these things. At the very least we should be able to gauge whether it is something we can possibly do ourselves or whether it is time to call for professional help.
Consider some of the most common door lock problems– you may have experienced a few of them yourself.
Key won’t go into the lock– Don’t panic! Check first if you are actually using the right key! If it’s the wrong key, then all is well, no use getting upset, it happens to the best of us. Now if it is indeed the right key, do not forcibly insert or turn it inside the key cylinder. You might break it and create more problems. There may be something blocking the way like tiny debris/dirt or even ice if it’s that time of the year. If you find something stuck inside and you have the right tools with which to remove it, and then by all means do it. If it’s ice, all you need is a little heat from a blow dryer or immerse the key in hot water first before inserting it back in.
Door doesn’t stay closed – This usually happens when the strike plate needs adjustment or the door strike needs some lubrication. If the strike plate is misaligned, either due to poor installation or a sagging door, the door strike will not spring into place, keeping the door open. If the door strike stays depressed or doesn’t pop out by itself, it may need to be lubricated.
Warping – Depending on the weather, warping is common especially for wooden doors and/or door jambs. This problem often stops the locking points from engaging properly, thus keeping the door unlocked. Sometimes applying extra pressure to the door does the job. The problem corrects itself when the wood reverts back to its normal condition.
Key inserts but won’t turn –Again, dirt may have gotten stuck or caught in the door mechanism, causing the lock to seize-up. Try attracting the dirt by inserting a damp swab into the keyhole and moving it around a bit. You will have to lubricate the lock afterwards. Never use oil for lubrication. You should use a graphite or silicone spray especially made for this purpose. They typically come in containers with a directional nozzle. Inserting the key then will spread the lubricant more evenly.
Types of Door Locks
There are different types of door locks to keep your home secure. The front door’s lock should not only be aesthetically pleasing but it should serve its function of keeping the door secure. Here are some of the common types of door locks available.
Entry Lockset is a medium security door lock that is actually comprised of two doorknobs that can be locked from the outside and the inside. This is the most common door lock of all. One can depress or turn a small button on the knob to lock it from the inside. A key is used to lock or unlock the door from the outside. There are models that need to be locked with a key from the outside and the inside while other models can only be locked or unlocked from the inside.
Mortise lock is comprised of a rectangular, flat box that fits into a recess in the door’s edge. Part of the lock are two face plates which house the keyholes and knobs. It is available in both left and right-handed types, with a cylinder housing a locking mechanism similar to a pin tumbler. The latch opens from either side but not when the outside knob is locked. The deadbolt is unlocked by turning the inside knob, whereas a key inserted from the outside operates the latch bolt and deadbolt. This type of door lock is best for apartment type residences and heavy doors.
A night latch is installed on the door’s interior side. It has an automatic locking feature, with a large, spring-loaded latch that locks automatically as the door is closed. This is best used in combination with another type of lock.
A deadbolt lock offers optimum door security. This lock has no spring to operate the bolt and can only be manually operated with a thumb or key turn from the inside. This type of lock is impossible to pry open because the bolt locks the door into the door’s frame as the throw is embedded at least an inch into the door’s frame. A single-cylinder deadbolt opens with a turn button on the inside and a key from the outside. This is best used for metal and wooden doors. A double-cylinder deadbolt opens with a key on both sides. This is best for a door with glass panels for even if the glass breaks, the deadbolt can’t still be unlocked without a key. However, a double-cylinder deadlock can be a source of danger during an emergency situation as the door cannot be opened without keys.
Another type of door lock is the more advance keyless entry system. This lock has audio and visual indicators to unlock and unlock. If the code punched-in is wrong more than three consecutive times, an alarm goes off.