A lockout situation can happen to anyone and anywhere whether in the home, office or on the road. There are several reasons you may be locked out, most notably forgetting your keys inside the premises or in the car or getting your keys stuck in a broken lock.
Of course, the first call of action when locked out is to call a locksmith, but there are a few measures you can take to prevent lockouts to begin with.
Remove Self-Locking Door Knobs
Most offices and homes today are fitted with self-locking door knobs, the ones that lock automatically as soon as the door is shut. Although this locking mechanism is convenient and designed to be a time saver especially in busy environments, it can cause more trouble than it's worth.
The best alternative to preventing lockouts from "keyed privacy locks" aka self-locking door knobs is by replacing them with deadbolts. Your Raleigh locksmith will then be able to configure your door hardware to make it impossible to lock behind you when shut.
You can even ask your locksmith to install an entry door handle set on every exterior door. When installed properly, you will have to use a key from the outside to access these handle and deadbolt combos, making them lockout-proof. If you don't want to replace your self-locking door knobs, you can install door restrictors to prevent the doors from shutting behind you.
Maintaining your Door Locks
Locks are one of the most used elements of a home, but unfortunately we seldom pay heed to their maintenance in order to keep them from working as efficiently as possible. It is not just the locks, but also the keys that are subject to considerable wear and tear over time so it is important to check them regularly and sort out the issue before it's too late.
Clean regularly – it is inevitable for dirt, grime and oils to build up on locks and deadbolts and even door handles especially when used frequently. To avoid this, it is a good practice to clean them by wiping down the affected areas with a little soap and water and drying the surface off with a soft cloth.
Avoid scratching – with regular use, door locks are bound to get scratched around the faceplates and keyholes. Although there's no way to avoid this, you can be careful whenever you put your key into the lock.
Prevent door mechanisms from sticking – door locks sometimes freeze up owing to everyday use and accumulation of dirt. Many homeowners use WD40 as a solution, but it is best to refrain from using products infused with Teflon and use products such as Tri-Flow that will also stay in the lock a lot longer.
Although you can do a lot of things to maintain your locks, it is best to commission a professional locksmith to get the job done right the first time and ensure durability of your locks.
Key don't Work
Apart from sticky door locks, your keys may fail to work or get stuck in the knob. The cylinder inside a door lock is where all the magic happens, and controls its overall mechanism. A corrupted cylinder can result in a host of problems including the key not turning in the lock. This in most cases requires professional help, but here are a few things you can try.
Key does not unlock the Door – you're probably using the wrong key! This does happen! This is actually one of the most common problems when it comes to a failed door lock cylinder. The key and cylinder work hand in hand and if either is on the verge of wearing out, you may find yourself using excessive force to unlock the door. If the issue is neglected and not taken care off immediately, it may result in an irreparable cylinder and door lock.
Key does not turn in the Lock – another symptom of a failing door lock cylinder is that the key will not turn in the lock. There may be several things that might cause this issue, most notably the teeth inside the door lock are worn out, and as a result aren't able to accept the key. You can try to remove the key and reinsert it and hope for the best, but eventually you will have to get the issue looked at professionally before it worsens.
Key gets stuck in the lock – reasons for your key getting stuck in the lock could vary from a frozen key to damaged door lock cylinder. This issue is mostly caused by worn out or damaged keys or a deteriorating lock cylinder. Regardless of the reason, this would be a good time to replace your keys and get your lock inspected. In fact, one of the most common reasons for lockouts is damaged keys, for which frequent inspection and repair is a highly recommended solution.
Easy ways to Prevent Lockouts
Have spare keys – keeping spare keys handy is perhaps the best way out of a lockout situation. There are several ways to go about this including keeping a spare key in your wallet, an item of clothing you wear daily or even at an easily accessible discreet location near your home. You shouldn't have to make several duplicate keys, but it is a good idea to at least leave one with a person you trust such as a family member or neighbor.
Fact is that lockout situations can happen to anyone owing to several reasons, and best advice is to get professional help and fast before the underlying issue spirals out of control and causes irreparable damage.