We hardly ever think about how important keys and locks are in our lives, until that one moment comes…when a key doesn’t work in the lock. Day in and day out, we lock and unlock our doors at home; our office doors; our car doors; our lockers at school, work, or the gym; and so forth. Another point we usually don’t think about is that weather changes can have an effect on our locks. As the temperature fluctuates, the functioning of your locks can be disturbed in numerous ways.
As the temperature goes up, you may start to notice that some of your locks tend to stick. Jammed-up locks can happen with outdoor doors because when it is hotter, the door frame will slightly expand, causing the locks to bind up at one position. You might find that you’re significantly struggling to finally get the key to turn in the lock mechanism. This often happens on closed deadbolt locks, which can become compressed in the door itself, as the door frame swells around it. If an outside door is made of wood and/or if the door frame is made of wood, you’ll become more prone to dealing with this problem, because wood swells and contracts as the temperature changes. Be patient, and take your time. It may take longer to get your key to work in the lock mechanism; nevertheless, with some wheedling, you’ll eventually be able to go inside.
As winter approaches, you may observe that when you go to put the key in a door lock, you may experience a little difficulty getting it to move into the right place for unlocking. What’s occurring is that as the temperature falls, it can cause the door frame to contract, just slightly, resulting in a bad fit between the door and the lock ~ just enough that you will struggle somewhat with the lock to get it to engage. What should you do? Haste makes waste. Slow down. You can often resolve this issue easily by fiddling with the handle first, to re-center the lock with the door frame, and you’ll get in.
The adjustments you need to make are only temporary. Just wait for the weather to change! As time passes, however, you’ll see that each year it will become a little bit worse. Before your locks stop functioning altogether, you should call a legitimate locksmith.
What if it Gets Down to Freezing? Vehicle locks are especially vulnerable to colder weather. Your car locks will likely be affected if the temperature gets to the freezing point. An automobile lock can even freeze solid. This occurs if water gets in between the car frame and the seal, or trickles inside the lock mechanism itself. To get into your car, you’ll have to melt the ice. Here’s what to do:
- Do you have the kind of transponder key that permits you to start up your car remotely? Then fire up the engine. As your car warms up, in all probability, after about 10 minutes the heat generated will thaw your car door from the inside.
- If you don’t have this type of transponder key, then if it’s just the car door that’s frozen, give it a good hard push. If you exert enough pressure, this may be all you’ll need to break the ice, and soon you’ll be able to stick the key in the lock.
- If it’s the car lock itself that’s frozen, to get out of this tight spot you’ll need to apply a solvent. De-icer products are available at any auto shop or hardware store. Spraying the lubricant will dissolve the ice quickly, and you’ll soon be on your way. Rubbing alcohol, or windshield wiper fluid (which is mostly alcohol), may also be effective. Caution: Don’t use WD-40, or any silicone or grease lubricant, because it will gum up the lock.
- If there’s more ice than that, get out your scraper. If you were not expecting cold weather and cannot find one, you can use anything made of stiff plastic, such as a credit card or a rubber spatula. Caution: Do not use a metal object, because it is likely to leave scratches!
- You can pour water on the ice, which might do the trick. Caution: Do not use hot water, because the extreme contrast in the temperature could break the car window. Lukewarm water, or even water from your hose, will be fine, since it is still warmer than the ice is.
- As a last resort, you could try heating up your car key. Do this only if your key is all metal! Hold the key with tongs, and use a match or a lighter. The increased temperature may allow you to insert your key in the car door lock and melt the ice just enough for you to turn it. Caution: Never do this to a transponder key, or you’ll destroy it!
Take Preventive Measures
Issues with door locks that occur because of weather changes are certainly a nuisance, but there are steps you can take to stop these things from happening in the first place. When you install new locks, hire an experienced and dependable professional who will make sure that each lock is fitted to the door frame correctly, which will reduce the chances of facing troubling problems when the temperature rises and falls. Also, keep your locks properly lubricated periodically. Moreover, there are also a good number of excellent-quality doors that are more resilient to stand up to weather changes.
If you are located any place in Avondale, Arizona, and you realize it’s time to hire an expert locksmith you can count on, consider hiring a mobile locksmith professional on staff at Avondale Locksmith Stars, where you can make an appointment for a free consultation; 24/7, they’ll be glad to answer all your questions and find the best solutions for all your lock and key needs.