Lets talk about lubrication.
There are three main reasons a lock will stop working and that is
1-Lack of Use-”Frozen”, Corroded
2-Heavy use-key worn, bad copy, or worn lock insides
3-Lock just plain broken
If your key will not enter the lock cylinder ie:you don’t use it often or if it has been getting progressively more difficult to insert the key, then you most likely just need to use a good spray lubricant.
We recommend using LPS1 for most mundane lubricating jobs. You can use it on your squeaky hinges, hard to open drawers, & anything else including that hard to open back door lock. Using the included straw, squirt a little bit into the keyhole & run your key in and out a few times without trying to turn key, you are looking to coat the inside of the lock and free up any stuck pins. If the lock hasn’t been used in a looong time, & been exposed to weather you may need to lightly tap the key into the keyhole. (I said lightly, put the big hammer back down) Might as well spray the latch (the thing sticking out that keeps door locked) at the same time too.
Its around 12 bucks a can, but I have seen homeowners still using the same can 10 yrs later. You can usually find it at your local neighborhood hardware store, or appliance parts company, & we sometimes stock it as well.
Once you are pretty sure its lubed up, (if your key is entering the lock easily), but there is a catch when you try and turn it either way then you most likely have a worn or bad copy of your key. You might have to jiggle the key to get it to turn, or back it out a bit. If this is the case you will need to try and locate another key that works correctly (preferably a lightly used original key) and replace the one you are using, or bring it into a locksmith company to get a “fresh” or original key made. Simply duplicating your worn key will give you a just as bad, if not worse, bad copy of a key. See our post on that here.
If the lock is on a heavily used door, you might need to bring it in for service (or have us come out) which involves replacing all the little doohickies and springy things inside because they are made of brass & do eventually wear down.
The cost is usually minimal if you can unscrew the lock and bring it in for this service. It might be best, in certain situations, to get a original key made while you are doing this.
If this is a relatively new box store purchased lock & the key just stopped working all of a sudden and is one of either of these two brands of locks with the “Smart” Key type cylinders, Kwikset Smart Key & Schlage Securekey then:
Its just broke
There are hundreds of complaints on these locks at this Danny Lipford DIY forum and there is an also an excellent post by a Naples locksmith concerning both brands side by side, on his website We have seen many problems, increasing in frequency, here locally with both brands since these locks are primarily sold at big box home improvement stores. Take it back before you get locked out & come see us for replacement hardware that won’t fail as easily.
If your locks are just old, it may be time to look at new hardware. Snap a picture of the lock, and email it to us first so we can let you know whats best. Some of these “old” locks can easily be refurbished.
Always try the lube first!
Oh and last little note: Please do not use powdered graphite in your locks. Just trust me on that, no matter what you have heard.