You might not think of your locks as something you need to maintain. They just exist, allowing you to lock and unlock your doors and keep your home secure. But if you want those locks to keep working properly, there are some things you can do to keep them in good shape. And because we’re in the business of locks, we thought we would share them with you.
Keep It Lubricated
All locks, even simple ones, are mechanisms. They are made of metal with moving parts, which means every now and then they’ll need a bit of lubrication to prevent wear and keep them working smoothly. However, this needs to be done using the right products, and in the right way. Never use oil-based lubricants or grease, as these are too thick and jam the mechanisms. If you have squeaky hinges you can use WD40 – just make sure it’s the silicone-based version.
For the locks themselves, you should only use dry lubricants. They use a range of active elements including molybdenum, silicone, disulphide and PTFE, which are designed to reduce friction. They are mixed with alcohol solvent or water during the spray process to create a thin liquid that can reach into all the nooks and crannies, but without leaving any gunk behind to clog the mechanisms up. If you have cylinder locks, the best product to use is graphite powder, which you can buy online or from your local locksmith.
Careful Key Cutting
If you need to get an extra set of keys cut for any reason, we always recommend you use an original key that was supplied with the lock as a base. This is because both keys and locks wear over time, which changes their shape. The original key and the original lock components should wear at an equal rate, which means your original key will always be the best at operating the lock. When talking to your locksmith about getting keys cut, be sure to also ask if they can use a key blank (a key that hasn’t been cut yet) from the same manufacturer as the lock. This means you’ll get the most reliable key out of it at the end – because while third-party key blanks are OK, they’re never as good as the manufacturer.
It’s all too easy to forget that your lock isn’t indestructible. If you’re in a rush, shoving your keys in and out of the door might seem like a way to save some time, but it’s really not. Forcing keys into and around inside a lock can cause a lot of damage to the components, can cause your bolts to bind against the keep (which is the non-locking part of the door frame) and get stuck, or it can even cause your key to get snapped off in the lock! If that happens, you’ll need to call a locksmith to fix it for you.
Similarly, unless you’re a teenager you have no excuse for slamming your doors. This can cause damage and degrade the hinges and internal components of the door, and we’ve seen everything from cracked hinges and misaligned bolts to door handles hanging out of the frame as a result of door slamming. In the case of doors, slow is fast, and you’ll be grateful you were gentle in the long run.
Nothing Should Be Loosey Goosy
A well-functioning lock should be like a well-oiled machine. There should be no loose fixtures and nothing rattling around inside. If you find any screws loose, hear anything rattling or spot anything missing, then you need to deal with it quickly. Loose fittings can catch in the frame and cause damage to your lock, frame, door and internal fixtures, not to mention be an absolute pain to deal with since you might end up replacing the door. If you think something is loose in your lock but don’t know what it is, give your friendly neighbourhood locksmith a call.
Check The Door
Your lock is just one part of a whole, and you’d be amazed how many times I go to fix a lock, only to find it’s actually the door that’s the problem. If your door isn’t shutting correctly, this can mean it won’t lock properly as the bolts become misaligned. If the door isn’t latching closed correctly, or you struggle to lock it, it will cause a lot of wear and tear on the lock that will only get worse the longer you leave it. If you suddenly find your door difficult to close or lock, call a locksmith to check it out. Sometimes it’s as simple as rehanging the door straight, planning a small amount off the bottom or just lubricating the hinges.
So, there you have it. Five simple things you can do to keep your lock working perfectly. A good lock that’s been properly installed should last you upwards of 25 years, but damage can and does happen. If you’re having problems with your doors and locks but don’t know what’s wrong, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.