Renter Advice

How to Fix a Sticky Lock

115 views February 27, 2023 March 12, 2023 Angelina Zurzolo 1

Whether it is a new key that doesn’t quite glide or a mailbox key that always gets stuck, a sticky lock is always a hassle! Before you go through the trouble of getting duplicate keys or asking your landlord to change locks, here are some tips to get your lock working without busting the budget or upsetting the management.

sticky lock

Loosen a lock in a pinch

If you are in a rush and need to remedy a sticky lock, the most convenient way is with olive oil from your pantry. In order to fix the lock using the olive oil, simply rub a small amount of the oil on your key and insert it in the lock. Once they key is inside the slot, make sure to turn it to both the right and the left. After you remove the key make sure to check the lock by both locking and unlocking the door.

This also works very well for pesky mailbox keys. However, oil isn’t always the best long term fix due to its propensity to catch grime and dust. The oil can eventually become hard, and dust and dirt can cause the lock to no longer function.

While this still happens to be a great short term solution to ease up stuck locks, for a long term fix consider something else for extra sticky situations.

sticky lock olive oil

For extra sticky situations

In instances where olive oil doesn’t work, liquid graphite is a good fix. Liquid graphite is purchasable at automotive shops and hardware stores and will generally run around six to ten dollars, making it a fairly affordable fix. The graphite comes in a bottle with a plastic tip that will need to be cut, so make sure to have scissors or a knife on hand in order to deal with this.

To use the graphite, cut the tip off of the nozzle and place the nozzle in the lock. Spray the graphite into the lock by squeezing the bottle—keep in mind that it doesn’t take much to get the lock moving. It is also a good idea to place some graphite on the actually lock mechanism and the area where the lock mechanism sits within the door jamb.

Doing this extra step will ensure that the lock is properly coated with the powdered graphite. After you spray the graphite into the lock, place your key in the lock. Slide it in and out a few times to make sure the lock is adequately lubricated. If needed, feel free to add more graphite until the lock is moving smoothly.

So there you have it! You can get yourself out of this sticky situation without having to call your landlord or property manager. A little extra knowledge goes a long way to make life easier when you’re renting a home.

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