Common Lock Problems and Solutions

Broken Key and Lock

Our locksmiths at Action Lock & Key, Inc., here in Burlington, MA, feel like they have seen it all when it comes to locks. Many times when customers have an issue with their locks, the issue is something they could resolve themselves if they just knew how. Below are some of the more common problems we see and how to address them yourself. However, if you run into something you’re not comfortable taking care of on your own, don’t hesitate to call one of our locksmiths for help.

Some Common Problems and How You Can Fix Them

Traditional Locks

Stuck Key. Sometimes a wrong key is inserted into the lock and then becomes stuck. This also can sometimes occur with new keys. If this does happen, spraying a lubricant, like WD-40®, into the keyhole can help you remove the stuck key. If this doesn’t work, call a professional locksmith so you don’t damage your lock.

Broken Key in Lock. If one of the most frustrating things happens, your key breaks off in the lock, there are a few things you can try on your own before calling a professional. (A tip for the future: Try to slow down when inserting your key. This issue typically happens when you’re in a rush when inserting the key.) If your key does break in the lock, head to your toolbox or chest. If you have a pair of needle-nose pliers, you may be able to pull the broken fragment out. But be sure the lock is first in its vertical position. A jigsaw or scroll saw blade is another tool that might work, again, with the lock in its original vertical position. Slide the blade in next to the broken key, and hook the saw’s teeth into the key’s teeth and pull. You might be able to retrieve the fragment that way. The third tool to try is a small, flathead screwdriver. The screwdriver could help you get the lock into the vertical position before using the pliers or saw blade. Also, the screwdriver could act as the part of the key that detached from the stuck fragment and allow you to unlock your door. Once the door’s unlocked, again you could try the pliers or saw blade to remove the fragment from the lock.

Frozen Lock. During the winter months, some door locks will freeze up. If this happens, applying constant low heat to the lock, as in the heat from a blow dryer, can help the lock to thaw. However, sometimes too high of heat can damage your lock and door, in which case you might want to call a professional locksmith for assistance.

Seized Lock. Sometimes a lock will seize if its mechanism is clogged with dirt or debris. If this happens, try cleaning out the mechanism with a slightly damp cotton swab. Or you could try WD-40. If neither of these tips do the trick, you’ll need to contact a professional locksmith. 

Lock Doesn’t Work or Bolt Is Stuck. Unfortunately, if you run into this problem, this is usually a mechanical problem that’s complicated. It’s time to call a professional locksmith for this one.

Pushbutton and Safe Locks

Lock Is Silent or Doesn’t Work. Whenever you have a lock that’s electrified in some way, your first plan is to check its batteries. Always use name-brand alkaline batteries, as the off brands tend to drain faster.

Pushbutton Doesn’t Lock. If your pushbutton lock isn’t locking, it’s more than likely in passage mode. Depending on what type of pushbutton lock you have, follow your manufacturer’s directions for taking it out of passage mode.

Penalty Lockout (for Safes). If you’ve tried a few different codes on your safe’s lock in succession and the lock keeps beeping after you’ve hit a button or a red light blinks every couple of seconds, you’re more than likely in penalty lockout. Safe locks do this for security purposes. Just wait about 20 minutes or so, without trying anything else, and you should be able to try again.

If you find yourself experiencing any of these problems with your lock, or any problem for that matter, call Action Lock & Key, Inc. at 781-229-9992 to speak to one of our expert locksmiths. We are always ready to come out and help in any lock situation you have.

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Call us at 781-229-9992!