When is it time to repair a damaged deadbolt, and when is it time to replace it altogether?


High Security Locks

That’s a question most property owners will have to confront eventually, as even the sturdiest lock is eventually going to wear out.  It might start sticking.  The bolt may not line up with the strike plate.  The pins inside the lock may be bent or warped.  Although deadbolts are relatively simple pieces of technology, they are made with plenty of moving parts.  And when those parts start failing, the deadbolt immediately becomes a security liability.

Deadbolt Repair or replace?

Deadbolt Repair There comes a point where it makes better financial sense to replace a lock instead of repairing it.  If extensive repairs need to be done to restore the deadbolt to its original function, the resulting cost can quickly outpace the cost of a replacement.  But when is it time to get a new lock?  Consider some of the more common scenarios:

  1. The key doesn’t fit into the lock perfectly – When a key begins sticking in a lock, it’s really only a matter of time before the key gets jammed in the lock or just won’t turn the deadbolt anymore.  However, when a key starts sticking, this isn’t necessarily a sign that the deadbolt is the problem.  Over time, keys get worn down and can lose their ability to line up with the pins.  This is an easy problem to correct, as locksmiths can quickly produce a new key.  If a new key doesn’t solve the problem, spraying the lock with a silicone-based lubricant might do the trick.
  2. The bolt doesn’t line up with the strike plate – This is another common issue with deadbolts, and it can point to one of several issues with the lock or door.  Even the foundation may be implicated in deadbolt misalignment, as subtle movements can cause the door to fall out of alignment with its frame.  Typically, though, the reason behind a deadbolt misalignment is a problem with the door hinges.  This is, again, something that can be fixed right away.
  3. The lock just won’t turn for some reason – If the key can’t be turned in the lock, and there is no obvious reason for the problem, repair or replacement may be necessary.  For example, a bent tailpiece can make it extremely difficult, even impossible, to operate the lock normally.  Tailpieces are only found on rim locks, and they extend out the back of the lock by a few inches.  A bent tailpiece is one of the easier fixes to make, as the tailpiece can be removed without disassembling the lock.  If the lock cannot be operated because there is something broken inside the lock, like damaged pins, then replacement will likely be required.  Even though this damage can be repaired, it will rarely be cost-effective to do so.

Reputable locksmiths will give a property owner a clear picture of how they should approach a damaged lock.  It is extremely important that a property owner feel comfortable with their locksmith’s professionalism, because there are plenty of scammers who claim a lock needs to be replaced even when it doesn’t.  Another popular scam is to offer a “high security” lock that is actually a fake, giving the scammer latitude to gouge the property owner beyond what the lock is truly worth.

But if a locksmith determines that a lock is beyond saving, it may be in the owner’s best interests to consider a true high security deadbolt.  Deadbolts are graded, using standards developed by the American National Standards Institute, or ANSI.  High security deadbolts are considered to be grade 1, and deadbolts earn this grade by being engineered to a higher standard.  Grade 1 deadbolts are built with a 1-inch latch bolt and are capable of withstanding up to 10 strikes of 75 pounds of force.  This is known as the hammer test, and it means that even when a burglar shows up with a sledgehammer, they will need to strike the door several times to defeat the lock.

The quality of deadbolt installation is just as important as the deadbolt itself, though, so it is crucial that a skilled, reputable locksmith is brought in to place the lock.  Hiring a local locksmith is a good start to finding a talented professional.  They should be able to provide identification and a written estimate that itemizes any fees and part costs.

Deadbolts are designed to withstand all kinds of forces, but they aren’t immune to the ravages of time and wear.  Repair or replacement will eventually be needed, and a skilled locksmith can help a property owner determine which is the better choice.