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What Are Common Lock Problems and How Can You Fix Them?


Keeping locks working properly is essential to the safety of a home. Locks are the foundation of home security, and when not functioning properly, they can be inconvenient and dangerous. Over time, locks can wear down and become a security risk if not maintained.

There are some lock problems that a homeowner can handle, while other issues might require the help of a professional locksmith. It is important to remember that finding a local locksmith to work with is ideal to have the job done right the first time.

Let’s look at common lock issues and what can be done to fix them.

Slow Working Locks

A slow-working lock can be an annoying problem. If a homeowner is fighting to unlock a door when the key is inserted, they probably have dirt or grime accumulated in the lock. This is also a safety concern, as no one will be stuck outside fighting with a lock and key late at night.

A properly working lock will work quickly and smoothly when the key is inserted. If the lock is not performing this way, there is a problem.

Sometimes a slow-working lock just needs to be cleaned. The exterior of the lock is exposed to dirt and grime every day. This can work its way into the interior components of the lock, slowly down the mechanics inside. A lock can easily be cleaned with a cotton swab.

Silicone or graphite spray can also help keep the keyhole lubricated. This can enable the key to move more easily into the latch. It is not a good idea to use grease or oil, though. These substances can clog the lock.

Damaged or Faulty Mechanism


If a lock is very old, a homeowner might start to notice the lock losing function over time. Locks can stop functioning properly after excessive use. Lock mechanisms can sometimes be complicated systems, and DIY repairs are not often recommended. If you want to keep the lock and simply have it fixed, a homeowner should consider hiring a professional locksmith to assist.

These professionals are trained to assess the problem and repair it if possible. The locksmith will recommend a new system if the lock is too damaged. This professional can also help make sure the new system is installed properly.

Key Doesn’t Lock The Door

If the key simply isn’t locking or unlocking the door, ensure the correct key is used. The key can be mixed up with a similar key.

If it is certain that the right key is being used, then it will be necessary to troubleshoot the problem to see which component isn’t working properly.

First, open the door, insert the key and try to manipulate the lock. If the key does not move the lock, there could be an issue with the key itself. The key could have gotten damaged or bent. There could be friction within the keyhole that is stopping the key from moving the lock properly. Try lubricating the keyhole to see if that solves the problem.

If the key moves the lock, shut the door and see if the key will lock the door. If it does not lock, then there may be an issue with the deadbolt not properly striking the plate.

If the deadbolt is not striking the plate properly or issues with the key or mechanism being damaged, a professional locksmith should be called to inspect the lock and repair it.

Broken Key Inside Keyhole


It is possible that a key can become broken off inside a keyhole. This could happen due to old keys or a faulty lock not locking and unlocking smoothly. When a lock is difficult to lock and unlock, sometimes a person may use unnecessary force to force the key to work. This can result in the key breaking off in the keyhole. This is also a common result of a door being misaligned as well. If the lock is not working smoothly, someone may use too much force and break the key.

If this happens, it will be necessary to call in professionals or to have the entire lock replaced. If a homeowner does not wish to replace the lock system, they should find a professional locksmith to help them. Trying to solve this problem without the help of a professional will only lead to more frustration and lost time.

It is important not to procrastinate on a problem like this. Leaving a door lock damaged this way for long periods could endanger a family’s safety.

Uneven Door Latches

If the gate on the door and lock do not shut right, there might be a door latch problem. When the door latch doesn’t catch the strike plate properly, the door cannot lock properly. This can cause doors to swing open after being shut. This is inconvenient, and a safety hazard as the door cannot be properly secured.

A few different factors can cause uneven latches.

  • Improperly installed doors – If doors are not installed properly, they can cause ongoing problems with the locks.
  • Heat – Homes in very hot climates could be negatively affected by the heat over time. Heat can cause wood to shrink over time, and naturally occurring moisture in the wood is evaporated.
  • Damp – homes in very damp locations can also experience door and latch issues. Dampness can cause wood to swell, changing how the locks perform and how the latches and plates line up.
  • Damage- Another factor that can affect how locks perform is damage to the door. If the door sustained a great amount of force or was compromised during a weather incident, it could affect how the latch and plate line up.

When it first becomes obvious that the latch is not working properly, a professional should repair the locks properly. Leaving this task undone could compromise the safety and security of the home.

Loose Door/Lock Parts

A home’s doors and locks have many interconnected working parts. If any of these parts becomes loose, it can affect how the entire lock operates and how the door secures. Even the smallest component of a lock can affect the whole system.

Lock or Door Parts Can Become Loose in Several Ways:

Overuse – If the lock and door have already been in use for a long period, parts can deteriorate.

Force – If the door was forced open at any time, it could greatly affect how the lock and door components work.

Weather – An extreme weather event such as a tornado, extreme heat, or continuous dampness can also impact the components.

Earthquake – If the home experiences an earthquake, it could affect how the locks work in the future.

Sometimes, this problem can be easily solved by tightening up the components that have come loose. For instance, the strike plate can easily be tightened up with a screwdriver.

However, if hard-to-reach components loosened up deep within the lock, the help of a professional locksmith may be needed.

Lock Maintenance

Just like every other part of the home, door locks need maintenance to work properly over time. Here are a few tips on keeping the locks properly maintained so that these pesky lock problems can be avoided in the first place.

Hang doors correctly – If not hung properly, the locks may not line up with the door jam.

Check strike plates – Strike plates should also be checked on exterior doors frequently to ensure that all screws are tight and that the door is catching properly.

Test latches and deadbolts – It is also a good idea to check latches and deadbolts intermittently to ensure they are working properly.

Keep door locks clean – When homeowners are doing regular outdoor clean-up, they should also be sure to clean locks. This can keep down on grimy build-up that will harm locks.

Repair damaged doors quickly – If the door has been damaged due to a storm, forceful entry, or some other reason, it is imperative to a family’s security and safety that the door and lock are repaired quickly. A family should not go even one night with unsecured doors and locks.

If you are looking for a locksmith in London and the surrounding areas, London Locksmith provides 24-hour assistance with many Ingersoll Door Locks and other brands. We can help with any lock and door issues. Give us a call today.