My Deadbolt Lock Is Not Turning

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Door locks require regular maintenance, a task that busy homeowners often ignore. Lock assemblies must be lubricated in order to function, and grease can disintegrate over time. The lock may be difficult to turn for a period of time before it finally breaks, or it may stop working suddenly.

The Problem

  • Locks require lubrication to keep the parts moving and prevent the metal from rubbing and scratching within the lock. When a lock hasn't been serviced, the mechanism seizes and eventually breaks, causing the lock cylinder to pull away from the mounting plate. Pressure to the lock caused by a misaligned bolt and strike plate can result in a malfunctioning lock.

The Solution

  • When a lock breaks due to friction, the lock plate assembly and cylinder must be repaired or replaced. The cylinder and plate are replaceable individually, allowing you to keep the existing lock trim if desired. Alternatively, replace the entire lock with one of the same diameter. Replace insecure hinge screws with longer screws of the same diameter, and make sure the strike plate is mounted directly across from the bolt.

Lock Repair and Replacement

  • Open the door. Remove the trim screws from the inside of the door and remove the trim plate. Pry the plate from the door with the end of a flat-head screwdriver, if necessary. Remove the mounting screws and lock plate. Insert a screwdriver into the assembly and push the bolt out of the hole in the edge of the door. If the mechanism is intact, clean and spray it with petroleum-based lubricant, reinstall and test the lock. If it still doesn't work, install a new lock assembly.

Lock Maintenance

  • Spray the keyhole or remove the trim and lock assembly and spray the interior of the lock with petroleum-based lubricant every six months. Turn the lock several times to allow the spray to penetrate, then wipe any excess from the outside of the lock. Check the hinges and strike plate alignment and adjust as necessary.

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References

  • "Windows & Doors"; Ron Hazelton et al; 1998
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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