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Residential Locksmith Tips

"Should I rekey my locks after buying a house?"

The sensible answer is YES... You should rekey your locks whenever you purchase a new home.  Security should be your first concern when you move into a new house.  Most people create spare copies of their keys, so the previous homeowners likely had a few extra sets that they gave to trusted neighbors, family members, friends, or even contractors.  I don’t know about you, but the idea of strangers having quick and easy access to my home is unsettling. Especially after moving into a new home, you want to feel safe and secure when you lay down your head at night.

"Should I change or rekey my locks?"


Replacing your locks is the more expensive, invasive, and complicated method. You will have to remove the entire lock (or two or three or eight locks . . .) and replace it with another model.  This option is recommended if you don’t feel the current locks are reliable or you’d like to upgrade to stronger, more efficient locks.

If you’re pleased with your home’s locks but you’re afraid extra copies of the key are floating around, you have a simpler option: rekeying.  When you rekey a lock, you change the lock so that it can be operated by another key. This is done by altering the tumbler or changing the key configuration.  After the lock has been rekeyed, the new key can operate the lock and the old key is invalidated.


"Why do I have to 'jiggle' my keys in order to get the lock to work?"

Your key does not work properly because you are using a poor copy or a copy that has been made from a copy.  No key machine copies perfectly.  As a key moves farther away from the original, the less accurate it becomes.  It could also be that your key tumblers have been worn down.  Solution: Find the original factory key and make copies from it.  If you cannot find one, you may need to rekey the lock.  

"Why does my door bounce off the strike plate when I try to shut the door?"

The latch is dry and needs a Teflon non-stick coating lubricant.  If this does not work, the latch is broken.

"Why will my key not go into the lock?"

On residential doors that are used seldom, your keyhole may be obstructed or your tumblers are sticking!  Use a Teflon non-stick lubricant on the lock and work the key in and out.  If this does not solve the problem, you may have to replace or rekey your locks.  Also, many people use their keys to pry open paint cans and open packages.  If the key is bent, it may not enter the lock.  Try another key... If it does not enter the lock, call us to extract the debris or replace the lock. I wouldn't recommend disassembling your lock.


"How can I tell if someone is getting into my home without a key?"

Look at the the door where the lock LATCH comes out.  Now, look at the paint on the door nearest the latch.  Is it scraped off or the door wood/metal dented?  Now, look at the strike plate on the jamb opposite the lock.  Is the weather strip gouged or cut?  Is the paint scratched?  If so, you are having visitors.  Install and use deadbolts.  Lock latches are easily pushed back and are not safe when used alone.  We can also install a latch protector, but do note that the look of your door may be affected.


"Is my sliding glass door safe?  How can I better secure it?"

Your sliding glass door is a security disaster.  We can install a device to the metal frame for added security.  We can also install a sliding pin lock...  Or, you can get a large round dowel, paint it to match your decor, and lay it in the door tracks.


"How can I make my home less of a burglary target?"

First, install deadbolts.  Second, get a dog or make it look like you have a dog by putting a dog food bowl by your most vulnerable entries.  Third, get an alarm system and use window stickers that indicate you have an alarm.


"Why does my door blow open sometimes and why can I not lock my deadbolt?"

Your door has loose hinges or the foundation has moved slightly.  The latch of the knob and the bolt of the deadbolt isn't matching up with the strike.  Simply remove the latch plates, plug the old screw holes up with toothpicks, and relocate the strikes either higher or lower than they were.  Or, you can use a metal file and file the strike plates on the jamb until the doors latch and bolt.


"My deadbolt isn't going all the way into the door jamb and you can use a knife to slide it to the unlocked position.  How do I fix that?"

Remove the strike plate. Use a drill and a 1" spade bit and deepen the hole in the jamb. The deadbolt bolt must be FULLY EXTENDED before it can deadlock.


"My door is sagging and my locks aren't lining up with the jamb strike plates!"

Look at your hinges on your door. With the door open, push the door towards the hinges.  Does the door and hinges move?  If so, you need to gently tighten the hinge screws.  Better yet, remove one screw from each hinge and replace with a 2.5 inch long sheetrock screw.  This screw will go into the jamb, grab the stud behind the jamb, and pull the door up more tightly.  You may find that your locks now work fine.  I have done this countless times. Or if your door isn't fitting the frame, but bouncing off when you close it, it is because of hinge sag.


What type of lubricant should I use on my locks?

Although many locksmiths like to recommend WD-40, I feel they are wrong in doing so.  WD-40 attracts dust and simply does not last for any length of time.  We recommend a Teflon non-stick coating lubricant. 


Commercial Locksmith Tips


How does a master-key work?

First, you must learn the terminology.  If you want just one key to work all of your locks, then you really need everything keyed-alike.  Master-keying is where one key works an entire building, then another sub-master key works just the janitor closets and all the offices, and then, below the sub-master key, each office has just one key.  In reality, at the office level, three keys work the lock. But, at the same time, the one office key will not work the office lock of a neighbor.  If you want to master-key your locks, all of the locks must be compatible.  This means one key will slip into every lock on the premises.  The key may not work, but you will know all the key-ways are alike.  If you have old locks, there may be metal loss.  You must have decent locks in decent shape in order to proceed.  

"My commercial glass door has only one deadbolt lock. Should I have another installed?"

No.  The general rule of thumb for all doors used as emergency exits is this:  All exit doors must be exited using ONE MOTION.  You cannot have a door used as an emergency exit with two or more locks on them.  The codes people may not notice a door in violation. However, in the event of an emergency, people may be injured or die because a door was locked with too many locks.  Call your fire marshal before modifying any lock application and get any approvals in writing!


"Should I re-key my new business?"

Absolutely. When you take possession of your new business location and the contractor, landlord, or previous owner gives you the keys, these keys could have been copied earlier by just about anybody.  We highly recommend re-keying.  

What different functions can door knobs/levers have?

There are 5 primary door handle types...

  • Entry - This is the most common type of door knob/lever and chances are, you probably have them on your home or office now. An entry function lockset will have a small button on the inside of the knob/lever, allowing you to manually lock the door, when you choose. Most types will allow you to push the button in or push it in and turn the button, causing the lock to remain locked, even after a key is inserted and used. You will most commonly find them on residential homes, on front and back doors.

  • Passage - Passage door handles/levers are the most common and do not lock.  They are designed simply to keep the door closed by allowing the spring loaded latch to catch the hole in the strike plate which is attached to the door frame.

  • Privacy - This door knob/lever is used primarily in bathrooms and/or bedrooms, intended for the purpose it’s name suggests; privacy.  They will most often have a small hole on the outside, and a push button on the inside. The small hole on the outside can be opened with any kind of pin or paperclip, simply by pushing it in. They are not designed to be used as a main locking device, but just a means to keep someone from walking in when you are using the bathroom or getting dressed in a bedroom.

  • Storeroom - This particular door knob/lever, is always locked and requires a key to be used each time you want to enter. There is no button on the inside and does not come with an option to leave the door unlocked.  It’s perfect for commercial uses such as a supply closet because it will ensure that the door is locked as long as it’s closed.  You don’t want anyone stealing those pens and papers!

  • Classroom - This door knob/lever is used for exactly what you would think, a classroom!  Much like to the storeroom door knob/lever, this lock does not have a button on the inside.  However, it DOES have the ability to be left unlocked, but ONLY with a key.  A full turn will lock or unlock the knob/lever, allowing only the person with the correct key to leave the door open.  It’s a great lock for anyone who doesn’t want to leave a door open, unless they authorize it to be.

How can I make it hard for burglars to break in?

You can enhance your security by installing latch protectors on your front and rear doors.  Time is a burglar's most important commodity.  If he/she sees you have latch guards, he/she knows they will need to spend too much time getting into you place of business.  Make him/her go to the establishment next door down.

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