6 Ways To Proper Door Lock Maintenance
1. MAKE SURE YOUR DOOR IS HUNG PROPERLY
A lock only functions correctly if the door is properly installed and correctly prepared for the lock. A door that sags or binds may place an incredible amount of pressure on the lock’s latch or bolt, leading to a failure that can leave you locked in or out of your house.
2. CHECK YOUR DOORS SCREWS AND STRIKE PLATES
At least one screw securing the top hinge to the doorframe should be long enough to connect the door to the wall framing around the door. To prevent sagging and increase break-in resistance, homeowners should add a longer screw — typically three inches — to each hinge. The hinge screws are staggered, but the long screws should be located near the center of the wall.
While looking at the frame, check the strike plates. The plate for the deadbolt should be secured to the wall framing with long screws, just like the hinges.
3. MAKE SURE YOUR DEADLATCH OR DEADBOLT WORK CORRECTLY
When closed, the dead latch (the small plunger that rides on the latch’s flat side) shouldn’t fall into the strike plate. This is an important security feature built into modern entry locks that will not function correctly if not properly aligned with the strike plate. Binding or broken latches commonly cause lock failures. Also, with the door closed, the deadbolt should operate freely. You shouldn’t have to push, pull or lift the door to operate the lock. Ensure the deadbolt’s hole in the doorjamb is deep enough for the bolt to extend completely. Your deadbolt isn’t actually locked unless it’s fully extended.
4. CLEAN YOUR DOOR LOCKS WITHOUT OVERDOING IT
External maintenance for locks is incredibly simple. At most, use a mild detergent to clean door locks. Some manufacturers suggest using only a damp rag. You actually do more harm than good by using an abrasive or chemical cleaner on a lock. Petroleum-based products can also damage a lock's finish. The protective coating on most locks will withstand normal usage for many years, but not heavy abuse.
5. DOOR LOCKS REQUIRE ANNUAL LUBRICATION
One of the most important, and most overlooked, maintenance factors is lubricating locks. Locksmiths don’t recommend petroleum-based products. Teflon and other dry lubricants are generally the best and easiest to apply. Simply spray a small amount of lubricant into the keyway. Then run the key in and out of the lock repeatedly, wiping any debris from the key each time. Lubricate your locks like this at least once a year.
6. COPY DUPLICATE KEYS FROM AN ORIGIONAL
The final factor in maintaining a lock is maintaining the key itself. Keys are designed to wear before the lock does. When installing a new lock, it’s a good idea to set aside one of the original keys to use when creating duplicates. Once a key begins to wear out, replace it. However, duplicates are never exact, and variances increase when a duplicate is made from a duplicate. A variance of only a few thousandths of an inch can make the difference between a good, working key and one you must jiggle in order to work — or one that won't work at all.