Help! My Keys Aren’t Locking the Door Properly!

Many locking problems are NOT caused by a faulty lock.

 
In fact, there are a number of different issues that can prevent a door from locking properly — or at all!
 
Let’s examine a few:
 

It could be a key problem.

 
Have you had a duplicate key made recently?
 
Sometimes a duplicate key looks OK it but it varies just enough to make it hard to turn or not turn at all. Making a duplicate from a duplicate key can compound the problem. It is best to make duplicate keys from an original key; but if the original key isn’t available, try other keys to see which operates the best in all the locks.
 

Use the best operating key for duplication.

 
If all else fails, the locks may need to be re-keyed.
 

It could be that the door has warped or the house has settled just enough so the bolt no longer fits smoothly into the strike.

 
That misalignment can cause the bolt to drag and make the key difficult or impossible to turn. Check the lock operation with the door open to see if it works smoothly without having to align with the strike plate. If it works smoothly while open this often can be fixed with a “strike adjustment” which involves altering the strike so the bolt inserts smoothly.
 

It could be that the hinges are loose, damaged or improperly mounted.

 
This causes the door to sag and misalign with the strike. One way to check for loose hinges is to open the door and lift up on the latch side. Look to see if the top hinge moves and if so the hinges probably need to be better secured. Make sure the hinge screws are tight. It helps to install a few screws that are long enough to reach past the door jam and into the framing material beyond to provide a sturdy mounting for hinges.
 

It could be that the lock just needs some lubrication.

 
Graphite is generally the best lubricant for locks but you can also try WD-40 or a “dry” spray lubricant. Insert the lubricant into the key hole then work the key several times. Open the door, extend the bolt and spray the bolt and work it in and out to spread the lubricant.

 

Whatever the problem, do not force the key to turn!

 
It could break off in the lock and cause a bigger problem. Extracting a key broken off in the lock usually requires professional service.
 

If you have any questions about the condition of your locks and keys, reach out to the experts!