How to Thaw a Frozen Lock

February 7, 2018

A frozen lock can keep you out of your home while allowing intruders easy access. Take these steps to keep your locks secure throughout the winter season.

For many, wintertime means holiday music, glimmering lights, and crackling fireplaces. While snow falls outside, the heat of the hearth and the warmth of family keeps the winter chill at bay.

But while you’re cozy inside, your front door is not quite so sheltered from the cold. As temperatures drop, locks become more susceptible to freezing, often ceasing to function entirely. If this happens, picking the lock with a hairpin or using a spare key won’t work. Just as frustratingly, the cold air can force the door frame to contract, leaving the lock and the door misaligned.

Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to prevent your locks from freezing in the future.

Dry It Out

Thawing a lock is fairly easy, but there are some measures you shouldn’t take under any circumstances. First off, you should never use hot water to thaw out the lock. The water will simply become captured in the lock, making it all the more likely to freeze again once you’ve successfully thawed it. Since repeated freezing may ultimately break the lock completely, it’s essential to keep it as dry as possible.

A safer and more effective process of thawing a frozen lock doesn’t involve water at all. It begins by warming and deicing the lock with a hair dryer, applying a deicing solution specifically designed for locks. You can then apply a light lubricant such as WD-40 to the lock, insert the key, and gently jostle it back and forth. As the key spreads the lubricant and deicing agent around inside the lock, it will gradually thaw each piece of the locking mechanism until it works properly again.

Preventative Measures

Of course, the most effective method of repairing a frozen lock is to prevent it from freezing at all! Taking these preventative measures before the temperatures fall can keep your locks functioning through the coldest days of the year:

  • Start at the beginning. When you’re having your locks installed, choose a reputable and experienced locksmith who can ensure that your locks are perfectly fitted and give you proper instructions on caring for your locks.
  • If the issue is related to your wooden doorframe, consider installing a more durable option like fiberglass or steel. Since these materials are much less prone to contracting or expanding with the weather, they’re less likely to affect the functioning of your lock.
  • If you have any locks that might be exposed to the elements during the winter months, get them regularly lubricated by a locksmith. Since a lock’s internal components are made from metal, they can’t function properly without frequent lubrication. Most lubricants also provide a barrier against external moisture, reducing the risk of freezing in the cold.

Armed with a good deicer, lubricant, and the phone number of an experienced locksmith, you can face the winter weather knowing that your locks are secure.

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