As we move out of summer and into autumn, now is the time to ensure your home locks are all in good condition and working properly. In this blog post, we will give you jargon-free, step-by-step advice on the things you should be checking for, how to maintain the locks in your home and what to do if you need an emergency locksmith.
As the nights draw in and we move into the gloomier months of the year, the risk of being burgled actually rises by 63%. This is due to the obvious benefits for a thief who is working under the cover of darkness; burglars and opportunist thieves are much less likely to be spotted by neighbours or passers-by, and the properties that are empty (and therefore come with less risk to the burglar) are much easier to spot in the first place.
Your locks are an integral part of your home security — if your doors and windows are well-built and fitted, then they will offer some protection, but without the locks they may as well not be there at all.
For this reason, you should treat lock checking and maintenance as an annual task to be completed at the end of summer. This way, you can move into the colder months fully assured that your home is as secure as it can be.
Complete a lock inventory
Take a tour of your whole property, including any outbuildings such as garages and sheds, and compile a list of all external locks. This should include the locks present on both your doors and windows, and should also include any additional security features, such as padlocks, door chains and garage door defenders. Obviously, you’ll only have to do this once – unless you change or add locks to your home.Lock Mech
Once you have a comprehensive list of all external locks, you can go round one by one to check and clean them. While this may seem time-intensive, it’s actually extremely useful to have your locks on record, and that way you can tick them off as you go along, ensuring that none are overlooked.
Test your locks
Working through your list, check each lock for the following:
The lock and all attached parts (such as the handle) should be well fitted and in good condition. Look out for loose screws and dented or damaged areas. Any issues that can’t be easily remedied by yourself should be looked at by a locksmith.
Test the lock with all relevant keys to ensure it opens and closes smoothly. Watch out for keys which you have to jiggle in order to lock or unlock the mechanism. This may indicate that the key is a copy of the original. Prolonged use of a key which doesn’t quite fit properly may cause the lock mechanism to break internally after a certain amount of time. Use only the original keys where possible and any copies should always be cut from the original key, never from another copy.
When you lock and unlock the door/window, check that the locking mechanism itself doesn’t stick or make a noise. If it does, clean and lubricate the lock, as this often solves the issue. A continuation of the problem may indicate a more serious problem which will need to be looked at by a professional.
Do you have to lift, push or pull the door/window in order to align the lock? This may mean that it’s become warped or has not been installed correctly. Where the issue affects a door, this may well mean that it is no longer hung properly, in which case it may need to be re-fitted.
Make a note of how many keys you have for each lock so you can check that they’re all present and correct each year. If you know that any keys are missing, it may be worth replacing the affected locks just in case they have fallen into the wrong hands. You should make spares for any locks which only have one key and keep them in a safe and secure place.
Looks helpful? See more here: Lock maintenance: The key to autumn home security