Frequent Lock and Key Problems: Common Issues and Solutions

Frequent Lock and Key Problems: Common Issues and Solutions

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You have forgotten your lock combination.

Some frequent lock problems

Some frequent lock problems

Call the lock manufacturers. Most of them keep a record of the lock combinations for just such an emergency. However if it is one of the really secure safes, then even they will not be able to help you open it without breaking the safe open.

Hence keep the combination number safe somewhere, and once you have had to check it, change it for a new one.

You are unable to open your lockset to repair it.

If your lockset consists only of a knob, then look below the knob. There will be a small hole there which will house the screw to open the knob. Most other locksets will have visible screws to open them

Your lock seems to have frozen in the cold weather.

Try to heat the key gently and handling it with gloves put it inside the lock again and again. This will help to deice the lock. You can also try to use a hair dryer to heat the lock. There are also commercial deicers available in the market and if you live in a cold area, keep one handy.

There are many other problems that can happen to locks, but before you call the locksmith, do try some home remedies.

Lock and key problems can be frustrating and inconvenient, often leading to delays and stress. Understanding the common issues that individuals face with locks and keys can help you identify and resolve these problems efficiently. In this article, we will explore some of the most frequent lock and key problems and provide practical solutions to help you overcome them.

1. Jammed Locks

A jammed lock is a common issue that can occur due to various reasons, such as dirt, debris, or a misaligned locking mechanism. When faced with a jammed lock, try the following steps:

  1. Use a lubricant: Apply a small amount of graphite lubricant into the keyhole to help loosen the internal components of the lock. Avoid using oil-based lubricants as they can attract more dirt and debris.
  2. Insert the key gently: Insert the key into the lock and try to turn it gently. Avoid applying excessive force, as it may cause the key to break inside the lock.
  3. Call a professional locksmith: If the lock remains jammed, it’s best to seek the assistance of a professional locksmith. They have the expertise and tools to safely and effectively resolve the issue.

2. Broken Keys

Breaking a key inside a lock can happen unexpectedly and leave you feeling stranded. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Extract the key fragment: If a portion of the key is still visible, you can use needle-nose pliers or tweezers to carefully extract it from the lock. Avoid using excessive force to prevent further damage.
  2. Lubricate the lock: Apply a lubricant to the lock to reduce friction and make it easier to extract the broken key fragment. This can be done using graphite lubricant or a silicone-based lubricant.
  3. Contact a professional locksmith: If you’re unable to remove the broken key or if the lock is damaged, it’s advisable to contact a professional locksmith for assistance. They have the necessary tools and expertise to handle the situation without causing further harm to the lock.

3. Stiff or Sticky Locks

Locks that are difficult to operate due to stiffness or stickiness can be frustrating. Try the following steps to address the issue:

  1. Clean the lock: Use a can of compressed air or a soft brush to remove any dirt, dust, or debris from the keyhole. Avoid using liquid cleaners as they can damage the lock.
  2. Lubricate the lock: Apply a small amount of graphite lubricant into the keyhole and on the key. Insert and remove the key several times to distribute the lubricant evenly. This can help reduce friction and improve the lock’s functionality.
  3. Seek professional help: If the lock continues to be stiff or sticky, it may require professional attention. A locksmith can assess the lock, identify any underlying issues, and provide the necessary repairs or replacements.

4. Misaligned Door or Deadbolt

A misaligned door or deadbolt can cause difficulty in locking or unlocking the door properly. Follow these steps to address the problem:

  1. Check the alignment: Examine the door and deadbolt to ensure they are properly aligned. Misalignment can occur due to loose hinges, worn-out strike plates, or sagging doors.
  2. Tighten screws and adjust components: Tighten any loose screws on the hinges, strike plates, and door frame. If the door is sagging, adjust the hinges or consult a professional for assistance.
  3. Seek professional assistance If the misalignment issue persists or if you’re unsure about making adjustments yourself, it’s best to seek the help of a professional locksmith or a qualified door technician. They have the expertise and tools to accurately diagnose and fix misaligned doors and deadbolts.

5. Key Won’t Turn in the Lock

Experiencing difficulty in turning the key in the lock can be frustrating. Here are some steps to troubleshoot this issue:

  1. Check the key: Inspect the key for any signs of damage, such as bends or breaks. If the key is damaged, have a new one cut by a professional locksmith.
  2. Lubricate the lock: Apply a small amount of graphite lubricant into the keyhole and on the key. Insert and rotate the key gently to distribute the lubricant and ease the movement.
  3. Jiggle the key: While applying slight pressure, try gently jiggling the key back and forth or up and down to align the internal components of the lock. Be careful not to apply excessive force, as it may cause the key to break.
  4. Heat the key: In cold weather, metal keys can contract and make it difficult to turn in the lock. Using a lighter or a hairdryer, heat the key slightly and try turning it again. Avoid overheating the key to prevent burns or damage to the lock.
  5. Seek professional assistance: If none of the above steps resolve the issue, it’s advisable to contact a professional locksmith. They can assess the lock, identify any underlying issues, and provide the appropriate solution.

6. Lost Keys

Losing keys is a common occurrence that can leave you feeling vulnerable. Follow these steps to address the situation:

  1. Check for spare keys: Determine if you have any spare keys stored in a secure location, such as with a trusted neighbor or family member.
  2. Rekey or replace the locks: To ensure the security of your property, consider rekeying or replacing the locks. A professional locksmith can assist you in either rekeying the existing locks or installing new ones.
  3. Keyless entry systems: Consider upgrading to a keyless entry system, such as a keypad or smart lock, that eliminates the need for physical keys. These systems provide enhanced convenience and security.
  4. Keep a spare key in a secure location: After resolving the lost key situation, consider keeping a spare key in a secure and easily accessible location to prevent future lockouts.


Frequent lock and key problems can be a source of frustration and inconvenience. However, with the right knowledge and practical solutions, you can address these issues effectively. Whether you’re facing a jammed lock, broken key, stiff lock, misaligned door, key that won’t turn, or have lost your keys, the steps outlined in this article can help you navigate through these common problems. Remember, when in doubt or if the issue persists, it’s always best to consult a professional locksmith for expert assistance.

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