How to Fix a Broken Lock Before It Turns Into a Security Concern
Photo From Locksmithmcallen
Did you know that roughly 2.5 million break-ins occur every year? That’s one burglary every thirteen seconds. There’s no entirely foolproof way to protect your home or business from theft.
But there are steps you can take to properly batten down the hatches. If you notice something is wrong with the lock to your building, then you must get it fixed as soon as possible.
A locked door is often your first (and only) defense against theft, so fixing a potentially broken lock is vital if you care about your security.
In this article, we’ll walk you through all the common problems that affect locks so you know what the issue is. But first, let’s take a look at why a broken lock on a front or back door poses such a security risk.
Why Is a Broken Lock a Security Concern?
Often we think that windows are our greatest security concern when it comes to protecting our property against burglars. But the reality is that over half of all break-ins occur using the door, not the window.
Roughly 34% of forced entries occur in the front door of a property, while 22% occur behind the house at the back door. If a thief is smart, then they’ll do surveillance on a house before they try to rob it.
Practices like leaving the door unlocked or a key under the mat isn’t safe even in the nicest neighborhood. But a broken or weak lock is almost just as bad in some cases. Locks with lots of internal wear can open up with the lightest touch of a lockpick.
Similarly, loose or misaligned can easily be forced up with a crowbar, credit card or a good, old fashioned kick. Broken locks not only pose a security threat, but they can also pose a major inconvenience to you.
If the internal lock mechanism becomes too scratched, rusted or filled with debris, then it won’t open to your key.
Nothing is worse than coming home at the end of the day and finding yourself locked out of your own house. As such, it’s vital to fix your broken or old lock as quickly as possible if you care about your home or business’s security.
What Are Some of the Problems That Affect Locks?
Before you decide to fix a lock yourself or call a locksmith, you first need to know what’s wrong with it. Locks are complicated pieces of equipment with internal components that are hard to access.
As such, it can be difficult figuring out the exact reason why your lock isn’t functioning. Luckily, we organized a list of the most common reasons why locks break or malfunction.
Broken or Damaged Bolt
Bolts are locks that enter into the latch in the wall opposite of the door. A broken bolt may jam during operation, which will trap you outside, or inside your house.
Or, a busted latch can become easily dislodged with only a slight amount of force, which encourages burglary. Pay attention to your deadbolt. Make sure it extends and retracts properly.
If you see any debris like dirt blocking the cross bore or strike plate, then make sure you remove it immediately. If your bolt isn’t the correct shape, then don’t try and hammer or bend it back into place.
This significantly reduces the structural integrity of the bolt and can reduce the security provided by the lock.
In some cases, the bolt may be damaged beyond repair. In this case, you will need to replace the lock yourself or hire a locksmithing service to help you.
Often people think their locks are broken when it’s a simple matter of alignment. When rough weather occurs locks that aren’t protected from the elements can contract or expand.
When this process occurs lock misalignment problems with the door jam or strike plate. But how can you distinguish a misaligned lock from a broken bolt? There’s one easy test. Simply open your door and try to engage the lock system.
Then, close the door and engage it again. If the lock is broken, then it won’t work while close or while open. But, if the lock is simply misaligned, then it will work fine when open, but freeze up when you try to close it.
You can fix a misalignment two ways: by changing the placement of the strike plate, or by widening it. It’s best to hire a professional if you want to replace it.
Sometimes beginners try to move it slightly which leaves wide holes that don’t secure the screws properly. However, you may not even need to move it.
If the strike plate only needs to move slightly, then you might have more luck in simply trying to widen it with a knife or chisel. Once you fix your misaligned lock, make sure that you protect it from harsh weather or the moisture will cause the same problem.
Loose Lock or Doorknob
We use doorknobs every day. This daily torque usage can gradually loosen the connection that holds the lock or doorknob in place.
If you notice the doorknob jiggles in its socket or sags out of the frame, then the problem likely goes back to the installation process. Most of the time the solution is simple: take the lockout and then reinstall it.
This should retighten the connections that come loose from daily strain. If the doorknob or lock is still practically falling out of the door, then the problem is likely a broken component.
If this is the case then you will likely need to replace either the lock or the broken piece. Luckily, once you take the uninstall the parts it should become apparent which part is damaged.
Blocked or Damaged Keyhole
A damaged or blocked keyhole will almost always require professional locksmith services. There’s a couple of reasons why. For one thing, it’s dark and small inside so you can’t tell what’s going on without experience.
Tons of internal components function around the keyhole. As such, there are lots of potential problems that could be causing the issue. However, there are still some things you can do to try and troubleshoot.
You should first see if you can fit your key inside the lock. One problem occurs when dirt, rust or other debris gets in the way of the key path. If your key slides all the way in, then nothing is blocking the path of the keyhole.
If the issue isn’t a blockage, then the problem is either a worn-down key or internal lock components. If you have a spare key, check and see if it works on the lock. If it does, then simply replace the malfunctioning key. If it doesn’t, then you will need to replace the lock.
Often malfunction keyholes and stuck bolts simply need a little coercion to start working again. A spray of lubricant can temporarily fix stuck components — at least long enough for you to open the door.
But what type of lubricant should you use?
You can use an oil-based lubricant, but keep in mind that this may make things worse. If your keyhole has lots of dust and debris inside, then the oil can quickly gum up the lock. If this happens to you, then look into getting a dry lubricant.
These types of lubricant spray use a dissolvable solvent to reduce the build-up of material.
Once you get the door open you should make sure you take the lock apart and get to the root of what’s causing the problem. But, lubricant offers a good last shot if nothing else is working.
How Else Can You Protect Your Property From Robbers?
If you fixed your broken lock, then congratulations! Unfortunately, even a lock door won’t protect against a determined burglar.
At the end of the day, if someone wants to get into your house, then they probably can. However, there are further methods you can take to either deter or thwart would-be thieves.
Install Chain Latches
Chain latches aren’t enough to protect you on their own. But, when installed in combination with a good lock system and other security precautions, it can add another defense system that the home invader will need to get past.
They also make it safer to answer the door when there’s a potential stranger since you can close the door before they get through. As such, we recommend installing one — better safe than sorry.
Get A Studier Door
Some types of doors, like hollow-core or panel, collapse easily under pressure. If you want something with more security make sure you invest in a solid core wood or metal door.
Your door should be at least 1 ⅜ inches thick. However, even the sturdiest door is susceptible to a pry bar if the strike plate is attached with small screws. Try and replace them with two-inch screws to avoid this method of forced entry.
Call a Locksmith to Modify or Replace Your Locks
If you aren’t confident that you can properly change a lock system, then it’s always best to hire a professional. However, a locksmith can also provide additional services besides replacing and entering locks.
For example, if you are worried someone has access to your key, you can have a locksmith rekey the lock to a different key. You can also modify the lock you have by adding more pins to them. This precaution makes it harder for thieves to pick the lock.
Secure Your Automatic Garage Door Opener
An automatic garage door is extremely convenient for people who use the garage as the main entrance to their house.
Unfortunately, a mandatory weak spot on all automatic garage doors could cause them to be the weak link that could break down your entire security system.
All automatic garage door doors come with a safety release mechanism that can automatically trip the door. These systems are legally required in case an emergency occurs — like a power outage, or the door collapses on someone.
Unfortunately, a burglar can trip this system with nothing more than a coat hanger. If you deactivate it, then all they need to do is lift on your garage door and it will slide open.
So how do you fix this weak point in your garage door? You can secure your garage door by placing a simple zip tie around the disengaging arm of the device.
Purchase a Security System
Security systems are a natural crime deterrent. Even the presence of them protects against potential criminal activity.
According to a criminal study conducted by the University of North Carolina (UNC) Charlotte, 80% of potential thieves said they would check to see whether or not there was a security system before attempting to break in.
So, even the most rudimentary system offers some protection. Security systems today range from basic alarm systems to completely self-monitored systems that provide a hands-off approach to security.
If you want some insider information on how to get the best self-monitored security systems available, then check out this article here.
Need Help Securing Your Home or Business? Call McAllen Locksmith Pros
A broken lock is enough to ruin anyone’s day — especially if you don’t have the tools or skills to fix it. Luckily, there are plenty of locksmith services out there that can help you out.
Unfortunately, many of these companies come with a seedy reputation of overcharging. So what’s a locksmithing service you can trust? If you need help dealing with your broken lock, then look no further than McAllen Locksmith Pros.
You don’t need to worry about getting ripped off with our company. We are licensed, bonded and insured and even provide price estimates before we even get onsite.
McAllen Locksmith Pros provides a wide range of services for the Texas area, including residential, automotive and commercial entry services, re-keys, and installations.
If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help improve your home security, then follow this link here.