Commercial locks are an important part of keeping a location secure because they are often the only thing standing in the way of an intruder gaining access to a location. Because of their importance, it is absolutely critical to constantly inspect the health of the locks.
Locks can be opened too often leading to corrosion or they may not be used enough and become rusty. Regardless, if it is a high traffic area or one that is often forgotten, the lock is there to keep intruders out and it cannot do its job if is wearing out.
The following are six of the most obvious signs that a call for locksmith repair is in order.
If it’s rusted, there is a good chance that the lock will not open. The problem is that rust prevents the teeth on the key from sliding under the spring-loaded tumblers in the lock mechanism and pushing them up. It’s nothing that a little lubrication can’t fix.
Spray lubricants are ideal for freeing rusted locks because they are formulated to dissolve rust. Be sure the spray can has an extension tube so the spray can go deep into the lock.
Another way to lubricate the rusted lock is graphite. Graphite lubricant can be bought in a squeeze bottle or tube. The key itself can also be lubricated with the graphite from a pencil. If the self-help methods do not work, call for locksmith repair.
Door knobs and/or the locking mechanism itself may become loose over time. To check if there is loosening, simply try and wiggle the lock with the key in it. If there is movement, it has become loose and should probably be replaced. The same method of testing can be used on the door knob.
Methods of tightening them depend upon the type of lockset. To tighten a simple interior mortise lockset that is loosening the set, screw on the knob shank. Hold the knob on the other side of the door, and turn the loose knob clockwise until it fits snugly. Then tighten the screw until it is resting against the flat side of the spindle. The knob should turn freely.
If this does not help, remove the knob and check the spindle; if the spindle is worn, it must be replaced. If the whole lockset is worn, it is best to replace it entirely.
Time and weather can cause a lock to become worn, but so can human hands. Tampering with a lock will cut its lifespan down immensely.The most traditional method of tampering with locks is “picking”. This is when a person uses small tools like a flat screwdriver to turn the lock and a pick to “rake” the pin tumblers. Like bumping, once the tumblers catch, the lock easily turns.
This is a gentler form of tampering and therefore unlikely to leave indications like warped pins or bolts. Nevertheless, as picks and screwdrivers wiggle around inside, they can cut into the edges, leaving marks. Signs of picking would be tiny scratch marks, showing fresh, shiny metal around the keyhole that is finer than key.
The second type of lock tampering is called “bumping.” Since the early 1900s, locksmiths have used this secretive technique to open locks in a hurry. In 2005, a Dutch talk show revealed the process and, since then, the technique has been picked up by countless burglars worldwide.
To do this, burglars file down the teeth of a key into several points, sort of like a little saw. Next, they insert this “bump key” all the way into a compatible keyhole and withdraw it in one click. Then they strike it abruptly with a blunt object, withdraw one click again, and repeat until the lock tumblers have all caught. Finally, they turn the key and open the door.
Signs of bumping are as follows: fresh nicks around the edges of the keyhole from pounding the key a little too forcefully; shiny metal edges that look like they’ve been recently hit.
While this may seem obvious, if significant damage happens to the lock it should probably be repaired or replaced. The most common way this type of damage would occur is with brute force, which is the hastiest, and therefore messiest, form of attempted break in.
Often a criminal will try to bash in a lock, drill through a deadbolt, or kick down a door, leaving a trail of twisted metal and splintered wood. There are less obvious ways to force through a lock though, so look for some of the following signs: paint circles from lock fixture movement as though it was loosened and then tightened out of place; bent deadbolts or latches; warped door or door frames.
While forced entry is the most likely culprit, significant damage can occur from trees or weather. It is important to be diligent about checking the locks because attempted break-in or otherwise, any damage should be repaired as quickly as possible.
Apart from the visible signs of wear, another sign to look out for is a “sticky” lock. The problem can be considered a sticky lock if the key goes in the lock but cannot be turned. The lock may have seized because dirt or grime has gotten caught in the mechanism. To clean the lock mechanism, insert a damp cotton swab into the keyhole and jiggle it around to attract the dirt.
A short term solution to sticky locks is the use of spray lubricant such as WD40. This can also help remove any potential dirt and grime that could be clogging up the lock. Once the spray is applied, insert the key and wiggle it in the lock to evenly distribute the lubricant.
Door Does Not Close
After extensive use, the bolt can become misaligned with the strike plate. When this happens, the latch won’t catch when the door is shut. If the misalignment is minor, try filing down the latch plate a little to see if it will accept the latch. Or, it may be that the gap in the latch plate is too shallow and needs to be deeper for the lock to work effectively. If neither of these solutions work, it will be necessary to unscrew the strike plate and reposition it.
If the locks continue to show signs of wear, they will need to be replaced immediately to avoid any frustrating and inconvenient malfunctions. Choosing high-quality, rust proof locks are the best option to protect new locks from early wear and tear.