Getting locked outside at the wrong time is an inconvenience that most of us dread.
It’s a situation that leaves us trapped, and often without a phone or supplies and regularly in the dark or in the rain. Furthermore it makes us late to our dates and appointments, gets in the way of our leisure time, and generally ruins our day.
Fortunately of course, when stuck outside our building the most obvious thing to do is to call a locksmith who will come and open the door for us and repair the lock at the same time.
This is the most expedient and safest way to enter our property when the lock is damaged and so you should always have the number of a locksmith or several locksmiths in your phone.
However it can still be a good idea to try a few little things yourself first to see if the problem was maybe a simple one that you can fix yourself which will save you time and money.
The first thing to try when locked outside is to see if the lock or key is simply damaged rather than completely broken. If so, then it might simply require a little more force than normal, so try applying a little extra pressure and see if the lock will then open for you. Don’t apply too much pressure however, otherwise you will risk breaking the key and the lock which can be an even worse problem than the one you currently have on your hands.
More than applying extra pressure you should think about applying pressure differently that maybe the way the lock is deteriorating simply means it needs pushing in a slightly different direction.
For example if the pins are simply not dropping as low as they used to, or your key is being worn away down one side then your key might simply not be pushing the pins high enough to free up the chamber and allow it to turn.
In this scenario you should then try pushing the key upwards at the same time as turning it. Similarly if the key has worn and is maybe not as long as it once was then you should push the key further to the end of the hole while turning.
This should then let you into the door which will mean you can get on with your day.
However you should still call a locksmith before too long, as if the key is deteriorated this far, then it’s probably only a matter of time until deteriorates to the point where it would be completely unusable and then you will get caught stuck outside.
Better then is to call a locksmith in your leisure while you aren’t stuck outside and so save yourself the inconvenience later.
Another thing to try is to push on the door itself harder. This is useful as you might be misdiagnosing the problem and thinking you have a problem with your lock when you actually have a problem with the door perhaps it’s jammed or just won’t open.
Similarly the handle might not be working as well as it used to. While unlocking the door then, try pushing on it as hard as you can. Alternatively if this doesn’t work, it’s also worth pulling the door towards you and trying to unlock it, as it might be the position of the door pressing against the lock that’s preventing it from opening.
Finally if the door is a light one, then try lifting it upwards as you unlock it as this can take weight off of the locking mechanism if your hinges are damaged. In this scenario you may still need a locksmith, but might also need to replace your door which you can do fairly easily yourself if you have a basic ability for DIY.
This simply requires you to unscrew your hinges and lift the door off of them before replacing others. In other cases if your door is hanging too low and this is putting pressure on your lock then you might simply try tightening the screws in the hinges which can lift the door back into place. Use an electric screwdriver which will ensure they are properly fixed into place.
Failing this, you can try blowing into your lock and cleaning the key. This might sound far
fetched, but even a tiny speck of dirt if it gets on your key or inside your lock can be enough to prevent it from working properly.
The reason for this is that the way a lock works is to push lots of tiny pins up and out of the lock mechanism by the grooves on the blade. The height of each blade however will vary greatly and how far it is pushed will determine whether or not the lock opens meaning that even a fraction of a centimetre’s difference would prevent the lock from working.
As such, some dust or dirt caught inside the lock or on the key could easily jam the mechanism, or change the properties of the highly sensitive pins. Similarly any rust on the key could cause a similar problem, and prevent the key from entering the lock properly altogether. Try blowing into the lock then and cleaning the key thoroughly and removing rust. If this does not work however, then you should call a locksmith who will be able to look inside the lock for other items that might be causing the jam.
Finally, make sure that there are no other objects that could be causing the problem from the inside.
Try to find a view of your door from another window etc and see if perhaps there is a bolt across the door. Similarly, keys left in the lock the other side can prevent yours from working.
After these attempts to identify what is actually causing your lock to jam, then you might want to
look for an alternate way to get into your home. This might mean climbing through a window, or opening another door around the back perhaps you have a key to your conservatory door you could try for example if you climb into the back garden? If none of this works then you should call a locksmith immediately.
Locksmiths will be able to arrive on the scene 24 hours a day and identify and repair the problem, they should also be able to prevent future problems from arising by creating copies of keys and replacing your lock if necessary. However, before you try immediately calling a locksmith, you should first try the lock a few times and a few ways as mentioned as it might be a â€˜glitch’ more than an actual fault.