How to Fix a Jammed Lock

It is frustrating when your key does not work in the lock, or it is just difficult to work the door because it seems to jam often.  It is possible that you can solve the problem on your own, even though it can be the result of several different issues.  The only tools you will need are a screwdriver (probably Philips-head), a key extractor, and a dry lubricant spray. 

Start with the hinges.  If you see a gap between the door and its frame or the door looks slanted or lopsided, it could be the hinges are loose.  If you open the door, you will have access to the hinges.  There are screws that hold the hinge to the door and to the frame.  Check each one using a Philips-head screwdriver, to be sure they are all tight.  It could be that slight bit of out of alignment prevents the latch from engaging on the strike plate.

If the knob turns but the door won’t open, check the setscrew.  This is the screw near the knob on the neck or underside of the knob.  It may be difficult to see or reach, but you can do it.  Select the correct type of screwdriver that will work on this screw.  You may want to spray a lubricant onto the area so the screws will turn easily.

If the deadbolt won’t retract completely, it is likely to be the interior spring mechanism.  This is a little more complex.  Remove the set screw and pull off the knob to expose the spindle.  Use a dry lubricant to the spindle and spring while turning the other knob, which should still be in position.  Replace the knob and tighten the set screw.

The Key Doesn’t Work

If the key just doesn’t seem to want to work, it could be weather-related.  If snow or ice has infiltrated the keyhole, you will need to thaw and remove the moisture.  If that is not the problem, check the ridges of your key.  Put a small amount of granite on the key.  Insert the key and remove it.  The parts of the key that do not have granite still showing indicate where the key is rubbing.  These ridges need to be addressed for the key to work again. 

If the striker plate has shifted, the deadbolt won’t be able to slide into the hold that will securely lock the door.  If this is the case, then the striker plate needs to be adjusted.  Using a chisel on the lower lip of the strike plate, tap slightly using a hammer so that the strike plate will move (but not more than 1/8 of an inch.  You may also need to enlarge the strike plate hole using a metal file. 

The Key is Jammed

If a key is jammed in the lock, you will need to remove the broken piece before the lock functions again.  This takes a special tool, an extractor.

If you don’t have the tools, feel the job is too much for you, or you are not adept at-home repairs, the best choice is to contact a qualified locksmith to do the job for you.  In fact, they will most probably complete the task quicker than if you attempted it yourself. 

If you don’t have the correct materials or tools, the locksmith’s fees won’t be much over the cost of those items, plus you will be confident that the job will be completed correctly. If you would like to learn more, contact our team today.

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