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When to DIY and When to Call a Locksmith: A Guide to Home Lock Repairs


All locks have a limited lifespan, regardless of how durable or expensive they are. Locks may malfunction and become useless due to prolonged or improper use or extreme weather. When this happens, you have two choices: repair or replace the lock. Considering the cost of high-security locks, making the right decision is crucial. If you're skilled in lock repair and have the necessary tools, you can opt for a do-it-yourself approach.

However, if you have any doubts about your abilities, it's advisable to seek the assistance of an expert residential locksmith to ensure your locks continue to provide the necessary security. Whatever the issue you may be facing, this short guide should help you decide whether to tackle it yourself or call a locksmith.

Stuck Door Locks

A jammed or stuck door lock is one of the most common issues homeowners deal with and one of the easiest to fix. If you are considering the DIY solution, start by assessing the lock.  Look for signs of accumulated dust and dirt in the keyhole. If these are noticeable, spray compressed air to clear out the debris. Next, use a spray straw to insert a suitable graphite lubricant that will not pick up additional grime, as this will lead to more problems in the near future.

If you can fit the key but cannot turn it, avoid applying excessive force, as it will most likely result in more damage. Slowly pull the door towards you and turn the key while you do it. If this doesn’t work, use a graphite-based lubricant, place the key in, and gently jiggle it to correctly distribute the lubricant. 

If this still doesn’t fix the problem, remove the lock cylinder and look for any signs of damaged components or debris. Clean the lock and replace the broken components if you know how to do it yourself. If you feel overwhelmed, we recommend you seek professional help from residential locksmiths.

Frozen Door Locks

Locks are frequently subject to freezing problems due to ice accumulation during the winter. A quick DIY fix is to apply heat to the frozen lock using hair dryers or heat guns. You could also use a special de-icing spray based on aerosols. Another solution is to warm the key using the car’s radiator or a hot pot of water and insert it into the keyhole. As the warmed key slips in, the ice should begin to melt. If nothing works or in the event that you have used excessive force and the lock’s mechanism has broken down, hire a locksmith. 

Broken Lock Bolts

If the key turns, but the lock fails to operate correctly, you are likely looking at a faulty lock part. This could be caused by the wear-and-tear factor, old age, tampering, or damage. A mechanical problem will almost always require the lock to be fixed or changed. When dealing with a standard home lock, replacements are usually easy to come across at most local hardware stores. The DIY installation is also pretty straightforward. When dealing with a high-security residential lock or a state-of-the-art commercial lock, it is strongly advised to ask a locksmith to open and repair it.

Locks That Have Been Tampered With

If you think someone might have attempted to pick your locks or if your locks have been tampered with, you may want to avoid trying a DIY project. This is not a self-repair you are recommended to do on your own, given the high risk of causing damage to the lock's components, making it even more vulnerable when faced with future break-in attempts. If you are dealing with such a problem, get in touch with an experienced and authorized locksmith and let them use their expertise to evaluate the problem and instantly replace the lock that has been compromised.

Final Thoughts

Take your time to evaluate the situation and establish if you have the necessary skills before deciding whether to fix a lock issue yourself or call a locksmith. Smaller issues could have fast DIY solutions, but you must be certain you are doing it correctly. Use a professional locksmith whenever possible or for more difficult problems.

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