The 3 Most Common Lock Problems and How to Fix Them

Proper care and maintenance of your door locks can prevent lock replacement further down the road. That said, checking on door locks isn’t always at the top of everyone’s to-do list, and lock problems can slip through the cracks and build up over time.

Call a professional locksmith or replace the lockset completely for serious lock issues. However, smaller problems can be caught and repaired by the homeowner at little cost.

Here are three of the most common lock problems and how to fix them.

1. The door key doesn’t work.

First, make sure that you are using the correct key for the door. Once you do get the door open, try the key again. If the key works quickly and efficiently, then the issue is a deadbolt that is not properly interacting with the strike plate. If the key does not work easily, spray a small amount of graphite onto the key and into the lock. Try the key several times in the lock until it works.

What if the key turns but doesn’t unlock the lock? In this situation, take the lock apart to check that the tang or cam is engaging correctly with the bolt. Make sure to replace any broken parts before reassembling the lock.

What if the key is new? A new key that won’t slide easily into the lock may have some rough edges that should be filed down. To locate the rough spots, hold the key over a candle until it blackens with soot. Turn the key gently in the lock and remove it. The soot will be removed from the rough areas, so file those spots down, and your key should work fine.

2. The door lock works slowly.

Exterior and interior locks can get dirty with use and exposure to the elements over time, but there are some simple remedies to try before you purchase a replacement lock.

Start by inserting graphite into the keyhole. Use the lock mechanism repeatedly to work the graphite in.

Gummy, dirt deposits can also be removed with lock de-icers. If these methods don’t work, disassemble the lock and examine it to see if anything is broken or jammed within it. It’s possible that you can replace the part without having to buy a whole new lockset.

3. The key is broken off in the lock.

Using a set of pliers, attempt to grip the key and pull it straight out. If you are unable to access the key, use a cut coping saw blade to remove it. Point the blade’s teeth outward, insert the saw blade into the keyway, and pull the key part out.

In a worst-case scenario, remove the cylinder. Insert a stiff, hard wire at the back of the cylinder, then push the key out. You can also bring the cylinder to a locksmith if more assistance is necessary.

Always call a professional locksmith for serious lock concerns, but for smaller, more common lock problems, you can try to do it yourself first.

What to Put in Your Home or Business Safe

Having a safe for your home or business is key to protecting essential items necessary for your peace of mind or your company’s well-being. But many people choose to use safe deposit boxes in banks, thinking that method is more secure. However, items in a home or business safe will be covered under homeowner’s or company insurance policies, a benefit you won’t receive from a bank.

What exactly should a homeowner or business owner keep in a safe? Here’s a quick list of the more important items to have securely stored in a safe box.

For the Homeowner’s Safe

In the case of a natural disaster or a fire, homeowners can make a tragic situation more tenable by having their most valuable possessions locked in a safe. Keep these personal items secured in your safe:

Current insurance policies and agent contact information.

This information is critical to have on hand in case of an accident.

Personal, legal documents.

Have passports, original birth certificates, and original Social Security cards for all family members in the safe. These items are frustrating, stressful, and expensive to replace.

Family photo albums.

Even if you scan your photos and make digital copies of them, you will feel much better knowing that copies of irreplaceable family memories are safely preserved.

Copies of relevant legal and investment documents.

You will need this information should you have to suddenly access funds, or to make sure that power of attorney statements and wills are enacted in the manner you deemed fit.

Medical information.

You will want a list of family doctors, prescriptions, and pharmacy contact information so that you can get new medical supplies if needed.

Safety deposit box keys.

Copies of these keys will be needed to allow you access to your safety deposit box in an emergency situation.
Information on outstanding debts, payment due dates, and contact information. It’s critical that you know the state of your debt and protect your credit, even in an emergency.

For the Business Owner’s Safe

Similar to a homeowner’s situation, a smart business owner will prepare for any situation or circumstance by protecting the information and possessions most important to the business, employees, and customers. After all, companies want to be trustworthy and reliable to clientele. These are the items that should be in a business owner’s safe.

Credit card information.

In the case of emergency, the business may need access to its lines of credit to get back on its feet as soon as possible.

Confidential information about services and products.

Copies of any information about the company’s goods or services should be kept in the safe for the good of the business. This scenario may also apply to customers’ information from orders to financial dealings.


Whether contracts apply to employees or customers, or both, you will want copies safely preserved in case of a natural disaster.
Stock and bond certificates. A business owner may need quick access to this information in stressful circumstances, so having it on hand in the safe is a good idea.

Financial documents.

Any and all financial documents about the efficacy and heart of the company should be kept in the safe.


Any electronics such as laptops or tablets which contain sensitive company or customer information belong in the safe to keep this information out of the wrong hands.

Whether you are a homeowner or business owner, keeping vital information in a safe is the smartest move you can make.


How to Choose an Electric Strike Lock

The electric strike lock may not be a colorful component in a locking system, but it is one of the most important. This type of lock is not only cost-effective, but also a better alternative than electrified lock mechanisms in some circumstances.

Reasons for an Electric Strike Lock

Electric strikes are devices installed on doors to allow entry via an access system or remote release system. 

Unlike a magnetic lock, a strike does not secure a door; that’s the responsibility of the door handle or lockset. The electric strike allows access to a secured door with a key card, pass, etc., without the need for a key to the lockset.

Types of Electric Strike Locks

There are two styles of electric strike lock:

Fail-Safe Locks

Fail-safe locks (also called fail-open) operate as a magnetic lock would. A direct electric current is applied to the strike, causing the door to lock. In a power failure, the door can be pushed or pulled open.

Fail-secure locks

Fail-secure locks (also called non-fail safe or fail-locked) open when an electric current is applied to them. In a power failure, this kind of lock will remain locked, although the mechanical can still be used to open the door from the inside.

An electric strike lock is useful on any door where high traffic occurs and requires monitoring or where items need to be secured and safeguarded. It also regulates employee access and helps prevent employee theft.

Choosing an Electric Strike Lock

Choosing the right kind of electric strike lock depends on the kind of door you have. The door material, and whether the door is internal or external, double or single, determines which electric strike lock is best. Strikes are available for nearly all door styles and of various material types, like aluminum and timber.

Security and Monitoring Requirements

The level of security desired will impact the type of strike that is best for your doors and circumstance.

For example, a low-security situation with no defined holding force may only require a low-cost electric strike. However, in a high-security environment, a strike with a maximum holding force of 1,500 pounds or more may be necessary. 

Most electric strike manufacturers produce strikes with or without a monitoring facility. Door state monitoring should involve the use of a separate reed switch on the door or frame. 

Type of Lockset

Your electric strike lock must be compatible with the type of lockset on your door. Use the lockset manufacturer’s compatibility chart to determine if your electric strike works with the lockset in question.

Latch Bolt Dimensions

Similar to a lockset, your choice of electric strike lock will need to accommodate the type of lock bolt sizes. Make sure that the centerline location of the latch bolt is correctly positioned around the centerline of the lockset to ensure that the lock will work as desired.

Power Needs

Most electric strike locks are 24 VDC, although 12 and 24 VAC options are also available. Choosing AC or DC power is critical because each strike application is different. Consider regulated or filtered power sources where practical as these sources will extend life to the strike’s operating capacity.

Code Compliance

Fail-secure electric strike locks must be used on fire-rated doors so that the door automatically goes into a locked position when the power is turned off. Because fail-safe locks go into an unlocked state when no power is applied, they do not meet code requirements for fire doors.

Consult a locksmith if you are uncertain about what kind of electric strike lock you need for your building or office.

Telephone Entry Systems for Higher Security

Whether you are looking to protect a real estate investment or your residential property, security of your facility and property is always a priority, and rightly so. Although there are many inexpensive or outdated entry systems available for commercial and residential purposes, purchasing the right telephone entry system the first time can give you peace of mind and secure your assets.

What are Telephone Entry Systems?

Telephone entry systems (TES) are a standard method of controlling visitors’ access to the gates and doors of your property. 

This type of security system provides communication from a monitored, secured entry point to a tenant, resident, or visitor to a building via communicating through phone lines.

How Do Telephone Entry Systems Work?

When communication is established, the person at the gate can speak with the person inside the property. If the tenant or resident wishes to allow the visitor in, he can dial a number on his telephone that will activate a relay in the TES. More sophisticated telephone entry systems can also provide control through the use of access devices like card readers or keypads. Telephone entry systems are available in two styles:

● Dedicated phone line systems, or auto dialers, require a dedicated telephone service for the entry system.The operator can type a phone number into the TES keypad, and the system will dial the number, connecting through the telephone service. Parties on both ends of the call can speak with each other, and if the tenant wants to admit the visitor to the property, he can dial a number on his telephone.

● Shared phone line systems are another kind of TES available for commercial and residential purposes. These systems will connect to a series with an incoming phone line. The entry system uses the phone wiring going into a home or building as a control board that can connect with all interior phones. Again, operators may give permission to visitors to enter the property at that point.

The Advantages of Telephone Entry Systems

Telephone entry systems allow for multiple benefits in commercial settings.Commercial properties will benefit from a TES system in the following ways:


TES systems provide a highly efficient way in which to manage visitor access at secure entry points. Businesses can communicate directly with visitors to determine if they should have access to the property. 


Commercial properties require security for the protection of employees and assets while restricting access to unknown persons. 

A telephone entry system is a superior option in that it eliminates the needs for re-keying or key tracking because most TES systems integrate with transponders, and can often be connected directly with an alarm system

Additionally, key codes can easily be changed when employees are hired or fired .


A telephone entry system provides direct two-way communication between the visitor and the entry point. However, the individual monitoring the business can perform that function remotely and does not have to be on the company premises. 

A telephone entry system creates a more controlled, secure, and safe environment for employees, residents, and visitors, so consider installing one today to protect your investment.

When Should You Replace Your Locks?

Between the number of secure buildings that are part of your life and the multiple doors they have, there are a number of reasons for getting locks replaced, some of which are more obvious than others. In this post we’ll go over replacing locks vs. rekeying, as well as some common scenarios for when you may want to get your locks replaced.

Replacing Locks vs. Rekeying

First, you need to identify whether you want your locks replaced or rekeyed. Replacing a lock requires a full replacement of the locking mechanism and any accompanying knob or handle. Rekeying involves removing the pins and springs in the lock cylinder and replacing them with new ones that operate with a new and different key. 

When to Get Your Locks Replaced

So how often and when should you replace your locks? Let’s look at some scenarios where changing your locks is best for your security and peace of mind.

Misplaced Keys 

Misplacing keys is a common occurrence and one that warrants replacing your locks. You can’t be certain that someone else hasn’t found your key, so changing your locks in this situation is inconvenient. However, it will put your mind at ease.

Stolen Keys

Stolen keys mean that one (or more) people have access to your property. Don’t wait to see if your keys resurface. Move quickly to get your locks replaced.

Worn Out or Rusted Locks

Even the best of locks suffer from wear and tear over time due to heavy and repeated use. Lock stressors can range from stiffness and looseness to rust and tarnish. Old, well-worn locks are easy for criminals to pick while newer, tighter locks are impossible to open without the right key. Replace your old locks and secure your home.

Renting out space or adding a new roommate

Subletting a room or an apartment, or sharing your living space with a roommate, are common reasons for changing out your locks. The tenant receives keys to the property upon rental and returns them upon termination of the lease. Replacing the locks is necessary if this process does not go smoothly or if the tenant distributed copies of keys to other people.

Moving into a new home

Because you can’t be certain who has duplicate keys to your new home, even if it’s a brand-new build, it’s smart to replace your locks. The former owner may have distributed copies to other people, or the home may have had a realtor lockbox, and that key has passed through many pairs of hands. Never assume that the locks on your new residence are tamper proof; replace them and rest easy in your new home.

Home invasion and burglary

Burglary is a horrible invasion of your sense of security. In this scenario, you need to expect the worst: the criminals have your keys and access to your home. Don’t take the chance that your keys haven’t fallen into the wrong hands. Replace your locks after a home invasion and restore your sense of privacy.

House sitting

Consider changing your locks if you’ve had someone watch your house while you’re on vacation. Even if you trust that person, you can’t be sure that someone didn’t get access to a key without the house sitter knowing.

Regardless of your particular scenario, it’s a best practice to upgrade your security by replacing your locks every few years for both better performance and greater security.