Key Won’t Turn in Door Lock? (Try Our Top Fix!)

As a security expert, I get this question very often, and it’s one of the most common calls a locksmith gets when someone puts a key into their door and it just won’t turn.

If you want to try something quickly, the best fix is spraying some WD40 inside the keyhole, then putting your key in and trying again. Try five more times since this can dislodge some debris.

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A lock with a key that won’t turn in the door is usually a sign of a problem with the lock cylinder.

A lock cylinder is an internal part of the door’s locking mechanism. When you insert your key, it rotates to align with the bolt mechanism and releases it. If it doesn’t turn, this could be caused by corrosion or debris in the lock and dirt accumulating on its surface.

If you’re in a rush and run into an issue with your lock or don’t have a lock, these simple tricks can lock any door without one.

Problems with an outdoor lock

problems on an outdoor lock

It is a common problem to find a lock that does not turn and is outdoors because of the prevalence of corrosion. Debris and dirt can be enough to clog locks that face a home’s exterior or structure.

A great solution is to use a lubricant to prevent friction from dust and dirt. There is a wide variety of lubricants that come as a spray. You can use this lubricant in the keyhole; something like wd40 can do the trick. Then insert the key to release the plug and turn the lock.

Using the lubricant once is not enough on many occasions. The user should use a little more lubricant and insert the key five or six times. This can remove the grease and dirt that gets in the way of the lock. WD-40 is the most common lubricant available.

Sometimes this problem is only temporarily resolved and then recurs. If this happens, the person probably needs to call a locksmith and replace some lock components.

Another common situation is that the key does not fit completely. There may be a buildup of dirt that manages to hinder the lock’s functionality. When a simple lubricant does not work, it can be helpful to call a locksmith for more drastic measures. This can prevent specific problems, such as complete breakage of the lock or key.

Problems with a lock inside the house

problems with a lock inside the house

Door locks on the inside of a home usually offer a longer lifespan. These locks are also minimally exposed to corrosion.

Using lubricant is an excellent option for these as well as for any mechanical device. You can also apply dry lubricant inside the lock through the keyhole. You should insert the key several times after using the lubricant. 

As with the lock on the outside, this step can remove the debris inside the lock. This entire procedure must be done carefully to avoid further damage to the lock. There is also the possibility of calling the locksmith if the lubricant does not work.

Carlock problems

carlock problems

A car lock can also present problems, especially if it is a car door lock. A car is constantly facing high temperatures in summer or low temperatures in winter. All this can impair the proper functioning of the lock.

The noticeable difference is that the costs to repair the lock to a car are higher than the costs for an indoor house lock. First, check that the temperature is not too low due to cold weather. The problem can be due to partial freezing of the lock. (1)

A hairdryer or similar tool can provide warm air to thaw the part. You can try wd40, inserting the key, and taking it out a few times to clear debris. 

In any case, a locksmith is recommended, as an inexperienced person could make the situation worse by breaking off the key in the lock or filling down the metal inside.

Adding a little lubricant is the best solution. Each lock’s lifespan and wear and tear are different, so your mileage may vary. 

The above solutions are only temporary, as new locks are strongly recommended for increased protection and security.

Reference:
(1) partial freezing – https://agris.fao.org/agris-search/search.do?recordID=US201303093701

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About John Fox

ebbb364ee14268bd3b77496cab3d1d78?s=90&d=mm&r=gCertifications: Certified Alarm Technician (CAT)
Education: Denver Security Academy
Lives In: Denver Colorado

John Fox has worked as a security consultant in Denver for over 20 years.
With Safe Now, he's taken those two decades of experience and decided to share it to help people online make the right security decisions for their businesses and families.

John writes security tips and guides, product recommendations, and prevention guides.

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