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How do weather changes affect your locks?

We usually don’t think about how vital a role our locks and keys play in our daily lives...until that moment comes...when a key doesn’t work in the lock. Many times a day, we unlock and lock our doors at home, our car doors, our doors at the office, our locker at school, work, or the gym, and so on. Another point we hardly ever give a second thought to is that changes in the weather can affect the locks we use. As temperatures go up and down, the functioning of your locks can be disturbed in various ways.

Warmer Temperatures

As temperatures go up, you may notice that some of their locks start to stick. Jammed-up locks can happen with exterior doors because when it’s hotter, the door frame slightly expands. When this occurs, locks can get stuck in one position. You may find yourself struggling quite a bit to get the key to finally turn in the lock mechanism. This is particularly typical for closed deadbolt locks, which can actually become compressed in the door itself, as the frame swells somewhat around it. If an outside door is made of wood and/or the door frame is wooden, you’ll be more prone to encounter this issue, because wood easily swells and contracts in extreme temperatures. Haste makes waste. Be patient and take your time. It may take longer to get the key to work in the lock, but with some jiggling, you’ll eventually be able to get inside.

Colder Temperatures

As the weather moves towards winter, you may observe that when you go to put your key in a door lock, you might have some difficulty getting it to move into the right place for proper unlocking. What’s happening is that lower temperatures cause the door frame to contract, just a tiny amount, resulting in a poor fit between the lock and the door ~ just enough that you’ll struggle a bit with the lock to get it to engage. A deadbolt lock, both trying to lock and unlock exterior doors, can be particularly frustrating. The answer? Slow down. You can often easily solve this problem by pulling and fiddling with the handle first, in order to re-center the lock with the door frame. The adjustments you’ll have to make are only temporary. Just wait for the weather to change!

Over time, however, you’ll notice that each year it will get slightly worse. Before your locks stop functioning altogether, it’s a good idea to consult with a reputable locksmith.

What If It Gets Down to Freezing?

Vehicle locks are especially vulnerable to colder weather. Your car locks will very likely be affected if the temperature reaches the freezing point. A car lock can, in fact, freeze solid. This occurs when any water gets in between the car frame and the seal, or simply gets inside the lock mechanism itself. To enter your automobile, you are going to have to melt the ice. Don’t panic. Here’s how:

  • If it’s just the car door that’s frozen, give it a really good hard push. If you put enough pressure on it, this may be all you need to break the ice, and you’ll be able to get the key in the lock.
  • If there’s more ice than that, get out your scraper. It’s a good idea always to keep an ice scraper around. If you weren’t expecting cold weather and don’t have one, you can use something made of a stiff plastic such as a credit card or a rubber spatula. Caution: If you use an object made of metal, it will probably leave scratches!
  • You can try pouring some water on the ice, which just may do the trick so that you can finally put in the car key. Caution: Don’t use hot water, because the extreme contrast in temperature could shatter the car window. Lukewarm or even water from your hose is okay, because it’s still warmer than the ice is.
  • If it’s the actual car lock that’s frozen, the easiest way to get out of this predicament is to use a solvent. De-icer products are available at any auto shop or hardware store. Spraying the lubricant will quickly dissolve the ice for sure, and you’ll be on your way. In a pinch, rubbing alcohol, or windshield wiper fluid, which consists mostly of alcohol, can also work. Caution: Don’t use WD-40, or any grease or silicone lubricant, because this will gum up the lock.
  • As a last resort, you could try heating up your car key. You can do this only if your key is all metal! Hold the key with tongs, and use a lighter or match. This increase in temperature may allow you to insert the key in the door lock and melt the ice enough for you to turn it. Caution: Don’t do this to a transponder key, or you’ll destroy it!
  • Do you have the type of transponder key that allows you to start up your car remotely? If so, hopefully you can get it to fire up the engine, and then as your car warms up, the heat generated will, in all probability, after 10 minutes or so, thaw the car door from the inside.
Take Preventative Measures

Problems with your door locks because of weather changes are certainly unnerving, but there are some measures you can take to avoid these issues happening in the first place. Whenever you have new locks installed, be sure you hire an experienced and reliable locksmith, a professional who will ensure that each lock is correctly fitted to the door frame, which will reduce your chances of facing problems when the temperatures fluctuate. Also, keep your locks properly lubricated periodically. Furthermore, there are also a good number of superior-quality doors that are more durable to weather changes.

If you’re located anywhere in Durham, North Carolina, and it’s time to hire a trustworthy locksmith professional, you may want to choose the mobile locksmith experts on staff at Pro Durham Locksmith, since you can count on them to be available to respond 24/7, and you can also schedule an appointment for a free consultation anytime at your convenience.