Problems do arise with keys and locks. There are two main issues. See how you can fix or troubleshoot a problem and tell a locksmith/joiner what the problem is before you take drastic action and kick the door in!

image – Yale dead lock in a front door

There are two main issues but remember I’m not a locksmith. I fit the best door furniture I can so I’m not dealing with these problems all the time.

image – Sash lock and keys with a chrome door handle


Most customers would decide to get their own keys cut ‘around the corner’ because they think it’s cheaper than ordering them from me when they buy a door. If you ordered them from me though I take the locks to a very good locksmith that I know and he uses a very expensive machine to cut the keys properly, then tests that they actually work in the door.

image – Grand Victorian keyring with keys in a Victorian front door

These days I simply don’t ask customers if they want extra sets, I just give them 4 sets with my bespoke keyrings so I know the cut keys are the best they can be. If they are ever lost maybe someone will return them to me because of the key ring, never happened yet though.

The local locksmith probably doesn’t have such a sophisticated machine as my guy and can’t test the keys in your locks if they’re fitted on your door.

Open the door, turn your key in the lock. If the key doesn’t turn the lock, ‘throw the lock’, then please check that you are using an original Yale or Union key. If it’s just the cut key that doesn’t work then you know what the problem is!

If you can’t get the key into the lock, there must be an obstruction. Sometimes the ‘collar’ in the lock has been moved round by a child poking around in there (or some such thing). Look in the hole and poke the collar so it turns and the opening is facing downward so the key can go in.

image – Banham dead lock with turn.

The Receiver

The bolt in the lock goes into a hole, that’s what locks the door. The hole is in the ‘receiver’ or ‘keep’. If the lock works when the door is open we know the actual lock works. If it doesn’t work when the door is shut it is probably hitting something, this is usually a receiver that is not aligned to the lock bolt. This means that the door or frame has moved since it was fitted, period homes eh?

Now don’t jump to conclusions, there may just be something caught somewhere stopping the door from shutting properly. Clean out the thresher on the floor under the door, check around the hinge edge of the door or a sliding bolt on the top/bottom of the door before taking a close look at the bolt as you turn the key. Can you see that the bolt isn’t going into the hole?

If all is well and the bolt isn’t going into the receiver then the receiver needs adjusting. This is a straight forward job that may take an hour, you’ll get a check and service of the rest of the door as well. If it is less than 12 months since we fit your door this is free without question. If not, or we didn’t fit the door in the first place we can do it for a small charge or it’s a straight forward job for a joiner.

image – Brass Yale night latch.

Any other problems aren’t worth mentioning as they happen when there’s a blue moon.

image – Restored rim lock on an internal door.

No Keys

If you have lost all of your keys for a lock, or didn’t have any in the first place (this may be the case when the lock is very old), no worries.

I can take you lock away and come back with a keys for it, assuming you can lock the door in the interim. The lock is taken apart and a fresh key made. The cost of this may range from £45 to £200 if you wanted cast old looking keys. The lock can be reconditioned at the same time. I will always do this with a lock that you are keeping on a door that I am restoring.

If it’s a Yale lock like the one’s I fit as standard (photo above) this can easily be replaced.

image – Banham L2000 rim lock on a Victorian front door.

Leaving your keys in the house

That old chestnut, the problem of leaving your keys in the house, is resolved by calling a locksmith. They can usually either pick a lock (yes, it’s real) or drill the barrel to gain entry and very rarely damage the door so do not kick your door in or force entry as you will damage the door and this will cost much much more than a locksmith.

I hope this article helps. If you have any questions or think I have missed anything please get in touch.

#banhamlocks #locks #keys #doorwontlock #yale #yalelocks #locksmith #era #eralocks #union #unionlocks

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