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Residential Locksmith Tips

"When do I need to rekey my home?"

You need to rekey your locks whenever you buy a home.  It does not matter whether your home is new or used.  Other people have had posession of your key and you do not know how many keys are floating around.  After I bought my first home, the owner came back and let himself in to check if he had left anything in the house. If you have teenagers and they have keys, rest assured that there is good chance they have given a copy to a friend.  If you do not want to give your kids keys, you can install a Kaba Simplex deadbolt on the rear door. Your child can enter a code and let himself in. The code can be changed easily if the code is given out.


"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.  Always ask your locksmith for a "factory original" when he rekeys..

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

The latch is dry and needs a shot of WD-40.  If this does not work, the latch is broken.


"Should I rekey my locks or replace them?"

If your locks are in good working condition and the finish is still attractive, you can have them rekeyed.  However, in order to have them rekeyed and work on the same key, make sure one key will atleast go into every lock. You cannot kay all of your locks alike if you have two or three incompatible brands. In many cases, homes have nice Schlage front door hardware and Kwikset or Callin locks everywhere else. Since nobody uses the front door for entry, you can leave this door on its own key, seperate from the rest.

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

On residential doors that are used seldom, oil becomes glue! Use WD-40 and work the key in and out. If this does not solve the problem, rekey or replace.  On commerical doors, you may have a foreign object in the lock. Restaurants get toothpicks, clothing stores get straight pins. On commercial front doors, sometimes vandals use screwdrivers or knives on the locks and the keyway is marred, blocking the key. 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 a locksmith 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, 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. You can also install a latch protector which you can buy at Lowe's or Home Depot. 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. You can buy a device at Home Depot or Lowe's that mounts to the metal frame. Ask your locksmith to install this. You can also have a pin installed that is inserted when the doors are shut. 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 dogfood 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. Contractors seldom do this correctly here in Tennessee.  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 dry-type lubricants, I feel they are wrong in doing so.  The dry lubricants, like Houdini and others, simply do not last for any length of time.  Although WD-40 does attract dust, since it is an oil, it still out-performs anything on the market. 


Commercial Locksmith Tips:


How do I masterkey my locks?

First, you must learn the terminology.  If you want just one key to work all of your locks, then you really mean you want everything keyed-alike. Masterkeying is where one key works an entire building, then another submaster key works just the janitor closets and all the offices, and then, below the submaster 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 masterkey your locks, all of the locks must be compatible. That means one key will slip into every lock on the premises. The key may not work, but you will know that all the keyways are alike. If you have old locks, there may be metal loss. You must have decent locks in decent shape in order to proceed.  I would not recommend masterkeying Schlage residential hardware in your business: Too many lock parts are flying loose due to the insertion of master pins. Also, if you are going to masterkey, get in writing that your locksmith will give you the pinning charts and schedules. Generally, he will want to keep these away from you so you'll have to come back to him for any additions. This is fraud.


"My key jams up when I turn it and works only when I wiggle it. What's wrong?"

You have a poor copy or a copy made from a copy of a copy of a copy.  When you make a key copy from a non-original, you get a key that is off by a few thousandths of an inch.  The better the quality of the lock, the worse the problem is. A cheap lock will allow for a sloppy copy. But, if you have a nice Sargeant lock, you must copy from an original key if possible.  If you cannot find the original, you will need to call a locksmith to decode your key and precut it on a code machine, or have the lock re keyed. 


"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 gives you the keys, these keys could have been copied earlier by just about anybody.  I highly recommend re keying.  Subcontractors have been known to come back after hours for a little shopping! 

"How can I best secure the rear door of my business?"

The single best device you can use to secure your back is the Exit Security Inc. product model SB-01-0036 for the 36" door.  It is a locking bar that can be used only after operating hours. This device is the best security solution for the money! 

If you are using a single door lever, you are not secure. If you have only a lever, install a latch protector. Remember: To be in code compliance, a fire exit door must be able to be opened IN ONE MOTION. A stout panic bar is the only real solution. You cannot use surface flush bolts on a fire exit.


"How can I keep employees from leaving secretly via the back door of my business?"

You will need to install a Detex Alarm which incorporates a deadbolt and an alarm. It always stays locked unless you unlock it with a key or hit the exit paddle.  This device complies with codes in that, people can exit the building in case of emergency, yet the alarm goes off alerting you.  This will keep employees from secretly stealing goods.


What different functions can door levers and knobs have?

 If you need a lock on an office door, you will want to use an ENTRY style lock. This has a button on the inside to lock or unlock. Many of these buttons have a dual function. If you push a button in, it locks. When the key is used, it pops the button out and unlocks the lock. However, if the button is pushed in AND TURNED, then the lock stays locked; and the key, when turned, only retracts the latch to allow you to gain entrance but always locks behind you.


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 sees that you have latch guards, he knows he will need to spend too much time getting into you place of business. Make him go to the establishment next door down.

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