We often get calls from customers who have what they believe is a problem with a lock: difficulty turning the key, not latching correctly, hard turn of the knob, not able to unlock a car, etc. Sometimes the problem is not the lock. That’s when you should call a locksmith!

Now, even if the lock is the problem, the real cause of the problem might have nothing to do with the lock. Following are three other factors that we at Sy King Locksmith in Orlando FL want you to know that can stop your lock from working correctly:

The keys

Keys duplicates

The key and pins within a lock are designed to match and in this way create a smoothly operating mechanism. A variance of only a few thousandths of an inch will make the difference between a key that works and one that won’t. No matter how good the duplicate is, it will vary slightly from the original. When copies of keys are made from other clones, the increasing variance will end up making the key a non-working one.

To prevent this, it is always a good idea to save one of the original keys for this purpose (making all future duplicates). Now, if you have your locks rekeyed you can have the locksmith working on this build you as many keys as you feel will be needing. The locksmith-originated keys are identical.


The hinges

Loose or poorly mounted hinges can cause many problems. The standard residential door has three hinges with four screws attaching it to the door jamb and another four to the door. Quite often, even in new construction, you’ll find that the hinges have not been wholly attached.

Misaligned strikes cause a series of problems that go from minor to major, including latch and bolt failures that can and will leave you locked in or out of the house, depending on the moment. If you call us for a lock repair, one of the first things we will do is check if the gap between the door and jamb is even on both sides of the door. If the difference is uneven, this will indicate a poorly installed or sagging door. We can also re-form strikes that have bent out of shape.


The door strike plate

door strike plate

Despite the door being appropriately hung, a carelessly installed strike can also cause problems. Latches and bolts should be centered with their door strikes. More importantly, the strike for the entry lock latch needs to be appropriately aligned, so the deadlatch plunger doesn’t fall into the strike opening of the entry.

The deadlatch plunger is that small, most of the time semi-circular part that extends along the flat side of the latch of the lock. When the door is closed, the deadlatch plunger should be located in the depressed position by the lock’s strike.

It locks the latch in place so that the latch cannot be bypassed by forcing it back in with a plastic/PVC card (credit, debit or game card) or similar type of material or even knives. If the plunger falls into the strike, your lock is not working the way it was designed to and will not offer the security you are expecting from it.

Just like you do with the hinges, the installation of the deadbolt strike should be done with screws long enough to fix the strike into the 2×4 framing behind the frame. Strikes attached only to the thin frame material are just too easy to force upon. In most forced entries, it’s not the locks that break; it’s the door jamb or the edge of the door that comes off first.

When checking on the deadbolt strike, make sure that the opening behind it was drilled deep enough for the bolt to extend fully. The bolt will not lock into position until fully extended. This last observation is another problem frequently encountered in new homes or where replacement and new doors have been placed.

If the door is correctly and securely hung, the strikes are correctly aligned and installed, the keys are properly cut, and your lock still isn’t working, you might have a lock problem. Regardless, your local professional locksmith can remedy any of these issues.