How to Repair a Five-Pin Tumbler Lock


Locks are designed to last for decades. However, even the slightest change in temperature can cause a well-made lock to develop problems. Metal expands and contracts with weather changes. A key can become stuck in a swollen lock, causing it to break off if too much force is applied when opening it. Rather than call a locksmith, employ a few professional techniques to repair a five-pin tumbler lock to save the expense.

Things You'll Need

  • Sewing needle
  • Compressed air
  • Lock lubricant
  • Screwdrivers
  • Epoxy filler
  • Isolate the issue, such as a key breaking off and blocking the keyhole. Other problems include swelling metal that leads to sticking and alignment problems with the locking mechanism. This type of tumbler uses five separate spring-mounted pins that can become stuck within the lock’s housing.

  • Remove any debris blocking the keyhole. The lock’s keyhole is susceptible to a buildup of dirt and debris, which can cause the pins to stick. Place the tip of a sewing needle into the keyhole’s opening. Gently pull any debris out of the keyhole. Use compressed or canned air to blow out any remaining debris.

  • Lubricate the tumbler. Sticking pins are the primary problem with five-pin tumbler locks, especially in humid climates. Heat causes the tumbler’s pins to expand and stick within their alignment chambers. Place the lubricant’s spray nozzle in the keyhole. Spray lubricant into the hole, stopping when the lubricant starts to drip out of the lock.

  • Tighten the lock’s mounting screws. With daily use, the mounting screws that hold the lock to the door become loose. Access the lock’s bolt and strike plate. Tighten the screws that mount the strike plate to the door jam and the lock bolt to the door with a screwdriver.

  • Lubricate the lock bolt. Temperature changes cause the bolt to stick. When the bolt sticks, it becomes difficult to lock the door. Sticking also causes the bolt to become misaligned. With the door open, turn the locking mechanism so that the lock bolt is sticking out. Place the spray lubricant’s nozzle over the small gap between the extended bolt and its mounting plate. Thoroughly spray the bolt, lubricating the entire surface. Turn the locking mechanism back and forth so that lubricant is forced inside the casing.

  • Check the strike plate’s alignment. The lock’s bolt slides into an opening on the strike plate mounted to the door jam. Over time, the door jamb will settle, throwing off the bolt’s alignment. Place the key in the lock and turn it counterclockwise. The bolt should easily slide into the opening in the strike plate. If the bolt does not easily slide into the opening, adjust the strike plate’s position.

  • Remount the strike plate. Remove the plate. Fill the screw holes with epoxy filler, allowing 24 hours of drying time. Reposition the strike plate so that the bolt smoothly slides into the hole. Mount the strike plate back onto the door jam with a screwdriver.

Tips & Warnings

  • Only use a lock lubricant. Other forms of lubricant can damage the lock over time.

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