The weather turned on us, and the calls are coming in, “My lock won’t work.” It happens every fall. The cool air; the dampness; the condensation on metal; and the key won’t go in the lock and/or turn.
Blame it on the moisture that just condensed in the lock and turned the accumulation of pollen, dust and pocket lint all being turned into goo or glue or goop.
The inside of the lock has little pins about the size of a pencil lead that are held into place with tiny springs. The wire on the springs is about the size of a human hair and there are many turns per spring. It takes very little gunk to jam the lock.
So here’s what you do to fix it:
Flush your lock!
What you need:
Be warned it is a messy job, take lots of paper towels, be patient. We use WD-40 or any other brand of penetrating oil (I don’t know what that is either, but your local hardware store will be able to advise you). You need the one that comes in a spray can with the tiny straw.
How to flush:
Attach the straw to the spray can. Insert the tip of the straw into the lock. Flood the lock with the inside of the lock with the penetrating oil. Let it sit 5 to 10 minutes. Flood it again and try inserting the key.
Work the key in and out, try turning it. Add spray lubricant as needed. Clean the dirty mess off the key each time you pull the key out. Keep spraying and inserting key until the key comes out clean.
Don’t be afraid to use a little force, after all you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain if you can get it working. A small hammer and gentle taps on the end of the key are sometimes necessary.
Lube Your Lock!
Use a Teflon or Silicone based lock lubricant. Again you will be using a spray can with a tiny straw. You will again be inserting it into the lock and spraying but this time use only a small amount. Just enough to lightly coat the working parts inside the lock.
A word of caution: <<<< DO NOT USE GRAPHITE>>>> Graphite is thick and gummy, it completely freezes up the springs and stops the lock from working. It is hard to clean out of the lock. It is also black and messy. It gets on the key and ends up in your pocket or in your purse.
Check Your Lock!
Now that you have the door open, check the back of the lock. Most locks have a nut on the back of the lock that holds the cam (the lever part that holds the door closed) Check to make sure the nut is tight.
You are done. Just remember to lube it again in six months. Clean if necessary first.
Call us if you need additional help or want to replace your lock (if for instance you lost your wallet and keys).
PS Gift giving season approaches and a locking mailbox for someone who has everything is always a thoughtful and welcome gift.