Keeping your door lock in tip-top shape improves home security, yet many homeowners neglect regular door lock maintenance. You should think of your door locks like your car. After a lot of usage, it may start underperforming, but proper care is sure to increase its longevity.
You may not know how to maintain your door locks, and lock maintenance certainly isn’t commonly taught. Furthermore, many people think squeaky locks that don’t sit the way they should are normal. In this article, you’ll learn how to better maintain your locks to improve home security.
Please note that the focus of these tips is for home door lock maintenance. Car lock maintenance requires different strategies.
1. Clean Your Door Locks
There’s an old saying that goes “a clean home is a happy home.” You should extend that mindset to the door lock. Dirt and grime build-up inside your locking mechanism will interfere with your lock pins’ ability to align properly.
Consider your weather and your door’s location when you decide how often you should clean your locks. If you live in a harsh climate with a lot of winter snow, you’ll deal with more seasonal build-up than someone who lives with mild winters.
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Clean your keyway by spraying compressed air into the keyhole. You can use a soft-bristled toothbrush, warm water, and dish soap to scrub tough grime off of your hinge plates. Use a soft cloth to gently wipe the frame of your threshold.
Never use chemical cleaning products or rough scrubbers, like steel wool, on your lock. These items wear down your mechanism and cause the same alignment problems that cleaning is meant to solve.
2. Lubricate Door Lock Mechanisms Yearly
You should get into the habit of lubricating door locks once a year. Often, locks come with lubrication instructions in their user manuals. If you still have yours, consult it to determine the right process.
Regular lock lubrication prevents rust. Like dirt, accumulated rust can affect alignment. Ironically, overusing your lubricant can also cause rust. So, make sure you use your product’s recommended amount.
If you’re finding that you need to spray a lot of lubricant into the keyway before you see an effect, take the lock apart. There may be a deeper issue, and if there’s not, you will need to wipe off the excess lubricant.
Specialty keyhole lubrication is on the market, but you don’t necessarily have to buy it. Most people opt for an oil-based lubricant. However, silicone or Teflon-based lubricants are the best options for this job.
Any lubricant can attract dust, but some are worse than others. For this reason, a petroleum-based lubricant is not recommended as it’s the worst offender.
Graphite can be used as a dry lubricant. Use it with caution if you’re not a professional. Excessive graphite in your keyway will behave like dirt.
Be sure to also lubricate door latch, hinge, bolt, and every other part to prevent rust.
3. Check Your Hinge Screws and Strike Plate
Over time, wear and tear on the holes in your wood can leave you with a few loose screws. Check the strike plate and all of your screws to see if this is the cause of your issue.
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Loose screws can cause misalignment either via a sagging door or because your latch or bolt is being misdirected. Tighten any loose screws as much as you can or readjust them to new wood if necessary.
Do not redrill the old holes if your screws won’t fit. This will expand the size of these holes and increase the issue instead of solving it. Realigning your door can be a tricky process but it will solve this problem.
4. Make Sure Your Door is Hung Properly
A lock is only as good as the door it’s attached to. Ensure your door hangs correctly and is the right size for your door frame. A well-cared-for lock in top working order won’t even perform correctly if the door is the problem.
The gap between the door and frame should be consistent on both sides and the top. The ideal space is no less than ⅛ inch and no more than ¼ inch.
One sign that the issue is your door and not your lock is scrapes on the floor. Check for scuffs on your floor and watch to see if your door grinds along with the ground while it opens and closes. Misaligned doors also tend to let in more drafts or blowing snow.
5. Consider Your Door Habits
It’s important to perform regular maintenance. Lock care is more than just another task for a maintenance schedule, though. Practicing good door habits will decrease your need for lock repairs. Avoid slamming your door, pulling on the doorknob, or trying to force it open.
If you have a large dog, try your best to train them not to jump at the door when they want to go outside.
Most locks can withstand approximately 5 strikes with a 75-pound force before breaking. This should work for most security situations. However, if you constantly slam or yank at it, it could hit its threshold prematurely.
Worse yet, you could weaken the door lock and make forced entry easier for intruders.
6. Keep Your Keys Up-to-Date
You shouldn’t have to turn your key three or four times before it works. If you do, this is a sign that your key is too worn. Create duplicate keys when you get a new set of keys. A manufacturer will have a hard time creating new keys if your only set is worn down.
It’s also good advice to rekey your back and front door about every three years. You should also rekey a new home as soon as possible after you move in. You may not know the previous owner’s history, or if they gave strangers copies of their key.
Credit: George Becker
7. Talk to a Professional Locksmith
No one knows locks like a locksmith. If you need extra door lock maintenance advice or your lock is beyond repair, a locksmith may be your best bet. They can help you diagnose tough problems and offer educated advice on how to deal with them.
Locksmiths also know when it’s time for an upgrade. Use their advice to make an informed decision about whether you need a smart lock or a replacement analog lock.
At Quicksmith, we offer professional residential lock services and auto lock services. Our locksmiths are impressively fast and can help you fix or upgrade your lock. We can help you choose a smart lock or manufacture a new key as needed.
Contact us to ask more questions or request an estimate for a new lock.
Featured Photo Credit: Jaye Haych