Repair Sticking Or Sluggish Keys, Locks And Doorknobs

Guide to trouble free operation and maintenance of locks and doorknobs. Simple fixes to keep locks from sticking or jamming.

There is nothing worse than coming home on a cold dark night, putting your key into the door to gain entry to your warm inviting abode, just to discover the key won't turn. Worse yet, it turns, but you are unable to remove it, leaving you vulnerable to anyone who cares to turn the key and gain entry to your home.

Here are some simple steps you can take to keep your keys and locks working smoothly.

First, let's take a quick look at how a lock and key combination works. The most basic lock and key setup is the deadbolt lock. The way a deadbolt works is that a moveable bolt or latch is embedded into the door, and when the key is turned, it fits into a corresponding slot on the doorframe. Sounds simple, but left untended, many things can go wrong.



The most basic of lock and key problems is sticking. Sticking can be caused by anything from condensation to dust or grime buildup. At the first sign of key sticking, wipe your key with a dry, clean cloth. If you see any residue on the cloth, you may be in line for a lock cleaning. Most locksmiths carry a very handy product containing graphite. It comes in a variety of brand names, and your locksmith will doubtless have one he can recommend. You should choose one that comes in a spray can with a thin straw attachment. Before using, however, I first take a can of compressed air, such as the type used for cleaning computer keyboards and electronics, and quickly spray into the keyhole, ridding it of any loose dust or grime. This compressed air product also comes equipped with a small straw, enabling you to spray into small keyholes. Do the same to the key, possibly dislodging small bits of grime that may adhere to the small grooves in the key. After you are satisfied that both lock and key are clean, first spray a small amount of the graphite spray onto the key. Spray another small amount into the keyhole, using the small straw that comes attached to the side of the can, and keeping your face a good distance from the keyhole. Compressed air can be very powerful, so exercise some caution when spraying. Slide the key into the keyhole, remove it, and then reinsert it. Do this several times, until the key slides smoothly. Next, turn the key, unlocking the door. Do this several times also, until it unlocks smoothly. Make sure you do not over spray, as you key need something to grasp to turn in its cylinder. Overuse of the spray may cause damage to your lock.

Another common problem is rattling, or loose doorknobs. These can usually be fixed by a quick turn of a screw or two. Locate the screws around the doorknob which hold the knob in place. Using a Phillip's head screwdriver (usually), tighten the screws evenly, making certain not to over tighten the screws, as this will cause "╦ťstripping' of the screw, making it difficult to remove if the need for replacement arises.

Keeping your doorknobs and locks maintained is an easy thing to overlook, but if you keep on top of them, their smooth operation is something to be appreciated.

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