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How to Change a Door Lock Cylinder

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Muhammad Baballe Ahmad, Mehmet Cavas, Sudhir Chitnis, and Zhen-ya Liu.

✓ Verified & Tested Information

A door lock cylinder is the part of a lock that actually contains the keyhole. The term “cylinder” refers to the fact that early locks were made with a rotating cylinder that the key would engage to open the lock. These days, door lock cylinders come in all shapes and sizes, but the function is still the same. If you need to change a door lock cylinder, follow the steps below.

Safety Considerations

Changing a door lock cylinder is a job that should be done with caution. Before beginning the process, it is important to be aware of existing safety considerations including wearing protective eye gear and work gloves. It is also important to turn off the power to the door before removing the lock cylinder. Taking the time to evaluate safety measures before beginning a project can help to avoid serious injuries.

Disconnect power and remove batteries

It is important to take safety precautions when attempting to change a door lock cylinder. Before beginning the task you must make sure that the power has been completely disconnected in order to avoid any accidental electrocution. If using cordless tools, make sure to remove their batteries before starting the job. It is also important to wear protective eyewear and gloves while working on a door lock cylinder as sharp edges can cause injury. Additionally, an electric shock or gouging can be prevented easily by keeping tools such as pliers, screwdrivers, and spanners properly safeguarded or away from where you may be working.

Wear safety glasses

It is important to wear safety glasses when changing a door lock cylinder. Safety glasses protect your eyes from small particles and debris that can become airborne when drilling, sawing or hammering. They also protect your eyes from chips, splinters and other flying pieces of metal or wood that can occur during installation. Additionally, it is important to make sure your line of vision is clear when working on the door lock cylinder. Debris can get into your eyes and cause injury if you are not wearing protective eyewear.

It is also important to make sure you don’t have any skin exposed when working with a door lock cylinder. Wear a long sleeved shirt, long pants and closed-toe shoes as these will help protect you from any splinters or chips that may occur with installation of the lock cylinder.

Preparation

Changing a door lock can be a relatively easy DIY job, as long as you have the right tools and prepare properly. Before attempting to change a door lock cylinder, make sure you have the new cylinder, a working screwdriver, and the correct key. Collect all of the necessary supplies before you begin and make sure that you have the replacement cylinder that is compatible with the existing lock. Once everything is gathered and checked, you can move on to the next step.

Gather the necessary tools

Gathering the proper tools is essential for a successful door lock cylinder replacement. You will need a flathead screwdriver and depending on what type of lock you are replacing, you may need an Allen or Torx wrench or key. Additionally, you’ll want to get graphite powder/lock lubricant. If that doesn’t resolve the sticking issue with the lock cylinder, bringing it to a local hardware store and having them install it could be your best option. Be sure to have specifications such as brand and model number ready when purchasing the cylinder at your chosen hardware store.

Remove the old lock cylinder

To remove the old lock cylinder, start by inserting a flat-head screwdriver into the edge of the lock’s face plate and prying it away from the door. Then, insert a small Allen wrench or other thin instrument into the holes located on either side of the cylinder. Turn them in opposite directions to unlock and disengage the cylinder from inside of its housing. Once this is done, pull gently on the cylinder to remove it completely. Make sure that you save any associated hardware and remember to keep track of which hole each component came out of for easy reassembling later.

Installing the New Lock Cylinder

After you have chosen a new lock cylinder for your door, it’s time to install it. Installing a lock cylinder is not a difficult task, but it does require precision and careful attention to detail. To begin, start by unscrewing the screws that hold the face plate on the door. Once you have removed the screws and the face plate, you should be able to gain access to the lock cylinder.

Install the new lock cylinder

The first step in replacing a door lock cylinder is to remove the existing one. Disconnect the latch from the lock cylinder by unscrewing it and set aside for reassembly later. Slide the cylinder out of holder and examine the faceplate surrounding it. Make note of the alignment between both plates and make sure to get an exact replacement, size, shape and materials included.

Once you’ve sourced your new lock cylinder, you’re ready to install it. Begin by sliding the new lock into place where you removed the old one-making sure that it fits snugly in its holder-then fix into place with screws on either side of its faceplate. Do not tighten these until you have checked that all parts of the new lock assembly fit perfectly together when turning it one full rotation clockwise and counterclockwise.

When everything is in perfect alignment, you can securely screw down both sides of the faceplate before attaching the latch back onto your newly installed locKscylinder. Close up any open parts of your door frame with screws previously used for removal and check that your lock has been properly secured before testing out all turning motions and possible variations to ensure proper functioning.

Adjust the latch and strike plate

Before installing the new lock cylinder, you must make sure that your door closes properly. Adjust the latch and strike plate as necessary to ensure proper alignment and a flush fit when closed. The strike plate should be firmly attached to the door frame at a height that allows the latch to engage it with ease. If your new lock cylinder has a different backset than your old one, you may need to replace the strike plate with one designed for that backset. Make sure all screws are securely tightened so nothing shifts during use of your door handle.

Finishing Touches

Once you have installed the door lock cylinder, there are a few finishing touches to ensure that it works properly and securely. This includes making sure that it is flush with the door, adjusting the latch and strike plate, and testing the keys. Let’s look at the steps you should take to make sure that the cylinder is correctly installed.

Test the lock cylinder

Once the cylinder has been installed, it’s important to test that everything is working properly. Start by reinserting your key into the cylinder and turning the key so that it is in the locked position. Before you can determine if the lock is functioning correctly, you need to close and latch the door. Then take a screwdriver or similar tool and try to turn the cylinder from outside the door. If it doesn’t turn, congratulations – your lock is now secure! You may want to repeat this process with multiple keys if you have all keys made by different locksmiths. This will help ensure that all of your locks are secure and working correctly.

Next, check to see if both sides of your lock have an even amount of tension when locked or unlocked. If one side feels less “snug” than the other side when locking or unlocking, then there might be something wrong with either the faceplate or bolt inside of your door frame. Finally, make sure that you can rotate through all sides of your door when it’s in a locked position without feeling any kind of binding or friction on either side of your lock cylinder. It’s also important to make sure that both sides work as intended – especially when using a smartlock as certain intervals during rotation could prevent proper locking/unlocking attempts altogether!

Replace the door handle and knob

Now that the cylinder has been installed and the door is tightly secured, it is time to replace some of the original components of your door locking hardware. A replacement handle, knob, or lever may be needed depending on the type of lock used. When you re-install each piece of hardware make sure to use a properly sized screwdriver – using a Phillips head screwdriver on a flat head screw will cause damage.

Make sure that each component is firmly held in place before replacing the screws. You may choose to apply some additional lubricant at this point if needed, and test out your new lock cylinder before completely closing the door behind you. With these final steps taken care of you should now be completely familiar with how to change out a door lock cylinder as part of routine maintenance or after an incident of home invasion.

Re-connect power and replace batteries

Once the new lock cylinder has been installed and tested, it is time to re-connect power and replace batteries. Depending upon the type of lock you have, this will involve reconnecting the wiring from the doorbell transformer or power source. If there are any wire nuts or other connectors that were removed when the old cylinder was taken out, these should be reconnected.

In addition, if your lock operates on a battery system, such as those that use coin cell batteries, now is a good time to replace those batteries so that your new lock works properly. Make sure to check both the door handle portion of the lock as well as any remote access/programming devices used to operate it as they may contain different types of batteries. Once all of these tasks are complete, your new door lock cylinder will be ready to use!

How to Change a Door Lock CylinderCheckout this video:

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