When your door lock jams up and refuses to open, your initial response may be to call a locksmith. However, you can sometimes fix the problem yourself. Try working through these tips to see if you can persuade your sticky door lock to move freely.
1. Double-Check the Key
Using the wrong key may seem like such an obvious mistake that you can't believe anyone ever makes it, but in fact a lot of modern door locks have keys that look very similar. Double-check you have the right key before moving onto the other steps.
2. Lubricate the Lock
If you are definitely using the correct key and the lock still refuses to turn, try squirting some lubricant into the keyhole. Slide the key in and out and wiggle it around to spread the lubricant into all parts of the lock. This should help to loosen any sticky lock components and allow it to turn freely.
3. Get a New Key Cut
Over the years, the teeth of a metal key wear down, which can result in it no longer sliding smoothly into the lock. If you notice your key sticking in the lock, consider getting a new key cut to fit the lock.
4. Problems With a New Key?
Sometimes, new keys can cause more problems than older ones. This is because the metal sometimes contains small burrs, which catch on the internal parts of the lock and prevent them from turning. If you're using a freshly cut key, take a close look at it. If possible, compare it with an older key for the same lock. If you can see any burrs on the key, use a metal file to gently grind them down. Remove only a tiny amount of material at a time and then retest the key to ensure you don't take away too much metal.
5. Realign Your Lock
Wooden doors and door jambs can swell, shrink, or warp depending on the weather conditions. Over the years, this can cause the bolt of a door lock to become misaligned with the hole in the door jamb that it is supposed to slot into. Inspect the strike plate for signs of wear and tear around the bolt hole. If it is dented around the hole, that could mean that the bolt is poorly aligned. To correct this problem, you would need to unscrew the strike plate from the door jamb and move it into the correct position.
If none of these help, reach out to a local locksmith.