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How to Fix a Door Lock That Won’t Turn

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

It can be frustrating when you go to turn your door lock and it won’t budge. If this happens to you, don’t despair! In this blog post, we’ll show you how to fix a door lock that won’t turn.

Identify the Problem

The first step in fixing a door lock that won’t turn is to identify the problem. There are several possible causes for a door lock that won’t turn, including a jammed lock, a broken key, a worn-out cylinder, and a defective latch. Before attempting to repair the door lock, it is important to determine the root of the problem so that the appropriate solution can be applied. This article will provide an overview of the potential causes and possible solutions for a door lock that won’t turn.

Determine if the lock is jammed or broken

The first step to addressing a door lock that won’t turn is to determine if the lock itself is jammed or broken. If the knob or lever of the lock will not turn, it is important to check if something is stuck in the mechanism that could prevent it from functioning properly. If nothing appears to be blocking the lock, it is probable that the spring mechanism within has broken and must be replaced.

The next step in troubleshooting this issue is to identify whether the problem lies with an interior or exterior door. Exterior locks are often exposed to extreme temperature changes and may require additional maintenance and lubrication over time. It can also be helpful to observe how other locks in your home are operating before identifying possible solutions for your specific issue.

Inspect the lock for any visible signs of damage

The first step in fixing a door lock that won’t turn is to inspect the lock for any visible signs of damage. Many locks may have debris build-up, rust, or other damage that can interfere with their proper functioning. Clean the exterior of the lock, especially around the keyhole, where dirt and dust often accumulate. If a cleaning does not seem to help then it’s likely that something else is causing your problem. Visually inspect all parts of the mechanism and look for loose screws or pieces that may have become separated from their intended positions. If any parts appear to be damaged or missing you should replace them before attempting to fix your lock. Be sure to use parts specifically designed for this type of lock, as generic replacements may not work properly or fit properly inside the casing.

Gather the Necessary Tools

When you’re dealing with a door lock that won’t turn, the first step is to gather the necessary tools for the job. This includes a screwdriver, a pair of pliers, and a thin metal rod. Depending on the type of door lock, you might also need lubricant or WD-40. With all the necessary tools in hand, you’ll be ready to get to work and fix the door lock.

Get a screwdriver

For any DIY job, the right tools are essential so it is important to make sure you have the correct type and size of screwdriver before starting. To begin this repair project, you will need a Phillips head screwdriver to remove the screws that secure the lock in place. If there is paint or dirt between the screw and lock plate, use a utility knife to clear it away before attempting to loosen with your screwdriver. Once all screws have been removed, carefully lift off the lock plate and knobs. Gently set aside without putting them in direct sunlight which may cause warping or discoloration.

Get a pair of pliers

One of the most important tools to have when fixing a door that won’t turn is a pair of pliers. Pliers are useful for gripping, twisting, and manipulating any objects that are stuck in a tight space. They come in a variety of sizes and can be used on various materials. When selecting pliers it’s important to find ones that will fit the needs you have.

If possible, you should look for needle-nose pliers as these are great for getting smaller items out of tight spaces or for holding onto objects that you wouldn’t be able to hold with your hands. In addition, if possible, look for pliers with long handles as this will make it easier to reach into tight spaces when necessary. Look for non-slip grips on the handles as well since these will make using the pliers much more comfortable and secure while working on your door lock.

Remove the Lock

If your door lock won’t turn, the first step is to remove the lock from the door frame. This can be done by unscrewing the screws that secure the lock in place. Once the screws are removed, the lock should come off easily. You can then inspect the lock to determine the cause of the issue.

Unscrew the screws holding the lock in place

It is important to remember that the screws need to be unscrewed in the correct order. Start by loosening and removing the screws on the inside of the door that are behind the lockset. If you have a knob, there will usually be two visible screws on either side: one of which is behind the doorknob and one behind an escutcheon plate where it joins with another plate at approximately a 90 angle. The other screws may need to be removed from within a small hole or keyhole located on the edge of a door closer, or they may be hidden under a special decorative faceplate that sometimes covers standard screws.

Once all of these screws have been removed, carefully pull out the latch and other parts from inside the door frame. For knobs and handles, it is important to remember not to pull out any attached cables or wires. There should also generally be two large screws above the knob: these two particular screws are longer than those found inside and fasten into threaded ‘sleeves’ embedded directly into a wooden door frame – it may take some effort for them to come out because they are held more securely in place than those found deeper inside. It is also important not to lose any pins as they can fall into difficult-to-reach places during this process. Once all these components have been successfully removed, your old lock should now come apart easily and can then be replaced with your new lock.

Pull the lock out of the door

If the lock does not turn when using the key, it may be necessary to remove it from the door for further inspection. In most cases, the faceplate of a traditional deadbolt must be removed with a small screwdriver. Position the screwdriver at each corner of the faceplate and carefully pry it away from the door until all four pins are released.

The handle or knob should then be unscrewed and removed. There should be a small center-hub, visible on either side of the latch sans-handle (it looks like a large, plastic mouth). This center-hub must also be unscrewed in order to fully remove the lock body. Once all screws have been removed, carefully pull outwards on one side of the latch until it releases from its place in the door. The lock is now completely free from both sides of the door and can be tested for further inspection or replacement if necessary.

Clean the Lock

One possible solution when your door lock won’t turn is to clean the lock. The keyway hole and the bolt of the lock should be checked for dirt and debris. Cleaning your lock can prevent further corrosion or damage to the mechanism and clear any debris that could be causing the lock to stick. Let’s take a closer look at how to properly clean your door lock.

Clean the inside of the lock with a cotton swab

The first step to take when you encounter a door lock that won’t turn is to clean the inside of the lock with a cotton swab. Be sure to use a new, clean cotton swab, as one with any dirt or debris on it may cause further damage to the lock.

Begin by removing the screws from the inside of the lock and taking off any decorative plate or separate parts. This will reveal the inner workings of your door knob lock. If needed, lubricate with a good grade of graphite or other specialist lubricant prescribed by your manufacturer’s instructions. Then use downward motions with your cotton swab to ensure no dirt is left behind in any crevice or groove within the cylinder and surrounding parts.

If this method does not appear to make your stuck key turn, try examining and cleaning each component carefully before reassembling; also check for any piece removed during disassembly which may be blocking it from turning. Finally, if all else fails you may need to replace your entire door lock assembly in order for it to function correctly once again.

Clean the outside of the lock with a damp cloth

When attempting to fix a door lock that won’t turn and unlock, the first step is to inspect the lock and clean it of dirt, dust, and debris. After determining that the issue is not a stuck latch or another malfunction inside the door, cleaning the outside of the lock with a damp cloth may help.

If there is an accumulation of dirt on the outside of your door lock, use a damp cloth to wipe away any excess material. If you don’t have access to a damp cloth, you can also use oiled sandpaper or steel wool wetted with oil to upgrade the surface. When cleaning with oiled sandpaper or steel wool, be sure to rub in one direction for best results.

Once you have removed any dirt or debris from the outside of your door lock, dry it off thoroughly with a dry cloth before attempting to turn it again. If this does not improve function then disassemble your lock and look for further evidence of wear or damage that could be causing blockage in its operation. Proper lubrication is important when dealing with locks so be sure to apply small drops at each juncture afterwards as needed.

Reinstall the Lock

Reinstalling the lock is one of the simplest ways to fix a lock that won’t turn. This involves removing the existing lock and replacing it with a new one. This process can be done in as little as fifteen minutes, and with the right tools, it can be a relatively easy job. Here’s what you’ll need to do to properly reinstall a lock that won’t turn.

Put the lock back into the door

Now that you’ve replaced the latch, issue, or other hardware that was causing the lock to stick, it’s time to put the lock itself back into the door. Before you begin, check that all of the screws and bolts that hold the latch in place are secure and tight.

To reinstall your door lock:
-Start by lining up your new lock with the hole in your door. Make sure it is oriented correctly before pushing it down into its hole.
-Once it’s in place, securely attach any required screws to connect the two parts of your door handle. Most locks will require two small screws to hold them securely in place.
-Check that all corners of the lock meet up with their respective parts on both sides of your door and adjust accordingly if necessary. Check for any metal protrusions from either side so as not to obstruct its smooth operation when turned from either side during use.
-Once everything is lined up and adjusted as needed, tighten all screws completely to ensure a secure fit that won’t shift out of place while in use or while locked shut if needed.
-Lastly, test your lock by rotating it several times on both sides of your door frame until you feel comfortable with its operation before adding any locksmithing or other hardware required for complete installation and functionality (such as a deadbolt).

Secure the lock with the screws

Once the lock has been re-installed in the door, it is important to make sure that it is securely held with screws. Begin by finding the screws that accompany the new along with any leftover pieces from the damaged lock. Use a screwdriver that is compatible with the holes in the lock and begin firmly screwing them into place until they feel secure. You can use longer screws to ensure extra support of your door lock. It is imperative that you take your time when securing the lock to get a thorough fit, as a door-lock not correctly fitted will decrease your home’s security and make it easier for an attempted break-in.

Test the Lock

If your door lock is stuck and won’t turn, the first thing you should do is test it. Make sure that the door is unlocked and then try to turn the key or knob in the lock. If the key or knob won’t turn, then the lock itself is likely stuck. Before continuing on to other steps, make sure that the lock is indeed the source of the problem and not something else.

Test the lock by turning the key to see if it works

Testing the lock is the ideal way to determine if the problem is mechanical or electrical. Begin by ensuring that the door frame is secure and that all screws are in place. Then insert your key into the keyhole and attempt to turn it. If your key turns completely, but you are unable to open or close your door, then most likely there is a loose component on either side of the lock itself, such as a spindle or a lever.

When attempting this fix, you want to take measures not to damage any of internal working parts. First try using gentle pressure with a flat-head screwdriver against any component before starting any repairs with tools that are designed for more precise adjustments such as needle-nose pliers, adjustable wrenches and lockset ratchets. If gentle force does not remedy the situation, further adjustment may be necessary.

If your key does not turn at all into either direction then most likely it is an electrical problem which usually occurs when wires become worn out or damaged over time due to regular use or due to changes in temperature. If this might be the case, it’s generally easier and safer to contact professionals who specialize in fixing locks and secure entries rather than attempting do fix any related issues yourself.

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