Why Is My Lock Sticking?
As common household annoyances go, sticky locks rank pretty highly. Struggling to unlock your front door every time you come home is never fun, but a lock sticking may cause more serious issues.
Ignoring the problem could lead to your key snapping in the lock, which can be expensive and time-consuming to resolve. Fortunately, you can often fix a sticky lock yourself without calling a professional locksmith.
Over time, dirt and grime can build up inside your door lock and cause it to stick. Keys can pick up a surprising amount of dirt from your purse, sports bag or even your pocket, becoming lodged inside your lock every time you open your door. Eventually, this buildup can cause the moving parts inside the lock to wear out or adhere to each other, leading to the lock sticking.
Dryness is another common cause of sticky locks. Locks need regular lubrication to protect the internal mechanism from water and prevent rust. Rust and corrosion are particularly common in front door locks because they're exposed to rain, snow and frost. Without proper lubrication, the lock components will stop moving correctly when you turn your key, potentially causing the lock to stop working altogether.
If your lock is well-lubricated and free from dirt and corrosion, the sticking problem may not be down to the lock at all. Sometimes, a bent or worn-out key can stop working properly and make it seem like your lock is sticking. Alternatively, the lock's key barrel may be loose or misaligned.
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How to fix a sticky lock depends on the cause of the issue. Applying lubricant is often all it takes to stop your key from sticking in the lock, but it's essential to figure out why your lock is sticking in the first place. Follow the steps below to get to the bottom of your sticky lock.
Even the tiniest kink in your key can cause it to stick in the lock or make it harder to lock and unlock your door. Therefore, it's worth inspecting your key carefully for signs of wear or bending.
You can sometimes straighten a bent key yourself using pliers. However, replacing a bent or worn key is usually the safest option because a damaged key could snap off in the lock and prevent you from getting inside your home.
If your key is in good condition or the lock continues sticking after replacing your key, a dry lock could be to blame. Lubricating your lock every three to six months can prevent issues such as water damage and dirt accumulation and reduce the risk of your lock sticking in the future.
There are several lock lubricants available. Graphite powder is a popular option because it's easy to apply and provides excellent protection against moisture. Apply the graphite powder straight from the tube by squirting it into the lock and onto the key, wearing plastic gloves to protect your hands.
Alternatively, you can use a silicone lubricant, such as GT85 spray, to fix a sticky lock. These lubricants are readily available in DIY stores and usually come with a plastic straw for more straightforward application. Attach the straw to the can nozzle and spray a small amount directly into the lock. You may need to apply the lubricant several times to get your lock operating smoothly again. The lubricant can run out of the lock and stain your hands or nearby surfaces, so it's worth wearing gloves and having rags on hand to deal with spills.
If you need to fix a door lock urgently but don't have any lubricant on hand, a regular pencil can be a great backup. Pencils contain graphite, which lubricates a lock similarly to specialized graphite powder. Simply rub the pencil across your key and insert it into the lock to transfer the powder.
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Check the key barrel to see if it wobbles when you move it. If it does, tightening the screws with a screwdriver can fix any alignment issues and make it easier to lock and unlock your door.
Consider calling a professional locksmith if the above methods don't work. A locksmith can diagnose and fix more complex door lock issues, and they may recommend replacing the lock altogether if it's broken, severely corroded or poorly fitted.
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