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Lock Blog

A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals

Door Lock Not Working? Find Your Solution Here

by Ralph April 13, 2022

A door lock not working is a major issue for safety and security. If a lock does not lock reliably, then it does not provide the protection that it should. If a lock does not open reliably, this is an immediate threat to your personal safety if you ever need to exit during an emergency.

So why exactly is your door lock not working? Once you can answer this question, you can fix the problem. But each solution begins with determining what it is you are trying to solve. Yes, your door lock is not working, but the precise cause is what matters most.

To understand more about a door lock not working, we will look at the problems via the different types of residential door locks:

  1. Deadbolt
  2. Latch
  3. Keyless
  4. Sliding Door


Why does a door lock stop working?

A door lock not working is quite often a result of the lock malfunctioning. However there are several common occurrences where the trouble that the lock is having stems from another source. For instance you may be able to adjust your door strike plate to get everything working.

Is my door lock the problem, or could it be something else?

A door lock not working is not always the underlying issue when a door won’t close, the door knob won’t turn, etc. You could have an issue where the key is wearing out, or the door has misaligned. In these cases, replacing or repairing the lock is unlikely to fix anything.

What is the easiest fix for a door lock not working?

An almost universal, though often temporary, fix for a door lock not working is to use a door lock lubricant. A good dry lube (not oil-based) will free up a lock in most instances where something has jammed or stuck. If something is disconnected, this is not really an option.

Do different types of door locks break differently?

Door locks are most likely to break at the point that is weakest and most used. If you have a lock that uses thin or weak metal, such as springs or spring-metal actuators, these can break easily. The use of plastic components is also becoming more common in cheap door locks (including deadbolts).

Can a locksmith fix a door lock that is not working?

If you need lock repair services, a locksmith is likely the best and most knowledgeable option. Because this is their expertise, a locksmith will have more tools, replacement parts, and experience with the wide variety of damage that results in a door lock not working.

Are expensive locks stronger than cheap locks?

Cheap locks break faster than expensive locks because the parts are often made of poorer metal. And if you end up picking up a lock from Home Depot, you may even encounter locks that use plastic. These materials wear down fast simply due to normal everyday use.

Is it better to fix or replace a door lock not working?

Replacement is often better than fixing locks because it is faster and requires no understanding of the lock you are working with. It is also often easier to get a new lock than it is to get access to a particular part within a lock that may have broken. But this all depends on your particular circumstances.

1. Deadbolt Not Working

Deadbolts come in many shapes, styles, and security levels, but they are the hardiest kind of lock. So a deadbolt not working is going to be rarer than other lock types, especially if they are high-security locks, which use strong materials that rarely break.

To know the level of strength your lock has, you can take a look at its ANSI lock grade. This will also let you know how many times the lock can be cycled (locked, unlocked, and locked again) before the deadbolt not working is expected. Documented limitations provide valuable insight.

Out of all the deadbolts, a mortise lock is the most likely to have robust components because of the larger space created by the lock body. This means they break less frequently and are easier to service when you have a mortise deadbolt not working. It is built with repair and partial mortise lock replacement in mind.

Key Takeaways:

  • The more secure the deadbolt, the less likely it is to break.
  • Commercial locks can be opened and locked more times before breaking.
  • Mortise locks are easier to repair due to their size and modular nature.

2. Door Latch Not Working

A door latch not working most commonly refers to the spring-loaded latch of a door knob or handle, which is no longer controlled by the turning of the mechanism. This may take the form of the latch not retracting or extending. Press the latch directly to see if it is jammed or springs in and out with and without pressure.

You can sometimes fix door knobs that have rusted or jammed by spraying a little bit of graphite into the gap around the latch. Outside of tolerances tightening to prevent the latch from moving, there could be an issue with certain internal components such as the spring or the actuator.

Because door knobs and handles are usually inexpensive compared to other locks, the popular solution to a door latch not working is replacement. Replacing interior door knobs is almost always the best solution to a door latch not working properly because it is often cheaper than finding a fix, with the exception of antique locks or custom handles/knobs.

Key Takeaways:

  • The most common broken door latch is in a door knob/handle.
  • You may be able to get the latch to move temporarily with lubricant.
  • It will almost always be easier to replace a latch lock than repair it.

3. Keyless Door Lock Not Working

Keyless door locks may be referring to something like the privacy locks (used for bathroom locks), electronic locks that use keyless protocols, or mechanical keypad locks. In any case, they all have the similarity of using no physical key, which constrains the problems they can have along that demission.

A keyless door lock not working can stem from many sources, but you have to unlock a door without a keyhole to access the lock enough to fix it. Keyless door locks have manual overrides on the interior side of a door, but this may be among the things not working with the lock.

Electronic locks can run out of battery or have their hardwired energy interrupted. Privacy locks mainly have issues with the door latch not working. Mechanical keypad locks will probably have one or more push buttons not working.

Key Takeaways:

  • Keyless locks include privacy, electronic, and mechanical keypad locks.
  • Common issues include energy interruption and stuck push buttons.
  • You may have a harder time opening the door to access the lock while it is broken.

4. Sliding Door Lock Not Working

A sliding door lock not working can be the result of seasonal weather changes that cause the wood around the track to expand or contract. But if you have not noticed a change in how the door is sliding, then it could be the sliding door lock not working.

Very frequently, something will go wrong with the latch bolt’s actuator, so it is not thrown or retracted properly. This can lead to the latch bolt missing and not locking or having difficulty unlocking. Regardless, fixing sliding door locks is going to require full or partial replacement of the lock.

Despite the mortise housing, most of these locks cannot be taken apart for servicing and must be entirely changed. In the case of a full patio door lock replacement, you have to be sure that the sliding door lock not working is the underlying trouble and not a symptom. And there is a good chance that it is because sliding door locks are often made quite cheaply.

Key Takeaways:

  • The longer track makes slight issues result in the door lock not working properly.
  • Alignment is the most common reason for a malfunctioning door lock.
  • The cheapness of sliding door locks makes them break very easily.

In Closing

The overwhelming causes of a door lock not working are the door getting misaligned or something inside the lock breaking. Putting aside any issues that do not originate from the lock itself, the parts that are going to break are thinner metal and plastic.

Cheaper locks will have a greater number of vulnerable parts, so you can offset the chance of your lock breaking by investing in more substantial locks. A patented lock or something graded for commercial use is going to have more longevity than your standard off-the-shelf hardware from a big box retail store.

is in your neighborhood. But if not, you can still ask general questions in the comment section down below. Please also feel free to share your experience and insight in dealing with a door lock not working.

Category: Residential, Safety & Security

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