maintaining door lock

March Maintenance: Locks

Did you know that the locks on your home or business must be maintained in order to be effective? Most people don’t bother with lock maintenance, instead choosing to replace their locks completely when they become defective. If you keep up with the maintenance of your locks, however, they’ll last longer and work better, saving you the money you’d spend on replacing them.

But how exactly do you maintain your buildings locks?


First and foremost, as soon as you notice a lock maintenance issue, be proactive. For example, if your key is particularly hard to turn one morning or won’t move properly into place, you may want to try lubricating the cylinder.

Lock cylinders consist of small pins and springs that need to move freely in order to operate correctly. When they start getting stuck, the lock will not function properly and can sometimes even break if you try to force it. Lubricating the keyway of the lock will get the pins and springs moving again and keep your lock in good working order. Apply lubricant liberally – you really can’t over-lubricate, so more is always going to be better in these situations.

When you have finished, run your key in and out multiple times to help spread the lubricant around. You will also want to lubricate the bolt or latch on the side of the door. This will help to alleviate any problems with the locking mechanism itself.


Door hinges inevitably wear down because they move every time someone opens the door, sometimes hundreds of times per day. With simple, routine maintenance, you can extend the lifespan of your hinges and save yourself some money in the long run.

The most common issue with most hinges is loose screws. Each hinge consists of six to eight Phillips head screws that loosen over time. You’ll need a Phillips head screwdriver to tighten each one. Make sure to do both the frame side and the ones attached the door as well.

Tightening these screws will help align the door with the strike, which ensures that its latch or bolt falls into the correct place. It will also stop the door from rubbing against the frame, which can make a door unnecessarily difficult to open or close.


Door closers ensure that a door closes properly every time it is opened, enhancing security while limiting wear and tear. If your door closer is defective, however, it can have the opposite effect. A door that closes too slowly may not latch, while a door that is constantly slammed could loosen or damage its own lockset.

In order to maintain your closer’s proper operation, there are three main adjustments you may have to make: swing speed, latch speed, and back check.

The swing speed and latch speed refer to how quickly the door swings shut and latches. These settings should be adjusted according to the conditions in which the door operates. For example, if you’re in a windy area, you may want your door to close a little faster so that a sudden gust won’t catch it and damage anything. An interior door in an office, meanwhile, should close a bit slower so that employees can easily walk in and out.

The back check adjustment affects the final few seconds before the door closes and the lock’s latch falls into place. Not every closer has a back check, but it’s important to adjust and test this a few times to ensure the door isn’t accidentally left open.


Check for daylight between the frame and the door. If you see light between the two, the door may sag or the frame might be damaged. It will be much less expensive to repair your door now rather than call for emergency service later when the door stops closing.

Check the frame and floor for rub marks. You will be able to see when a door is dragging on the ground or against the frame. If you tighten the hinges this may help eliminate or lessen the severity of this issue.

Crash bars and exit devices need love too, so make sure to oil them properly. Remove the head and soak it down quarterly. This will help save you from emergencies.

Check the strike, which is the part of the frame that the latch or bolt falls into. If that hole is clogged with debris, then the lock won’t function properly.

Is the latch exposed? If you stand on the outside of the door and have a wide gap between the frame and door, you might want to consider a latch guard to protect it from being pried open.

Final tip: Find a locksmith before you need one. Unfortunately, there are many unqualified companies out there that will take advantage of your emergency to jack up their rates. Find a reputable local locksmith now – you’ll be glad you did later.