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Key Keeps Turning In a Door Lock? 4 Reasons Why, And How to Fix This

It’s an experience that no one wants to have. You keep turning your key in the lock and it just keeps turning without unlocking or locking your door. This presents a situation that makes it easier for burglars and is something you’ll want to prevent at all costs.

But what are the reasons for your key turning in your lock and how can you fix this?

We cover the answers to these questions and more in this post.

Table of Contents:

How dangerous is it if your key turns but won’t unlock your house door?

If you find yourself in a situation where your key turns but won’t lock, you’ll want to know how dangerous this is. The fact that your door key doesn’t work can be very problematic and can cause serious security concerns for you and your loved ones. Ultimately, this makes it easier for unwanted visitors to enter your home, as your home’s main safety feature – your door – won’t lock. This problem can occur on a wide variety of doors: your UPVC patio door, UPVC back door, UPVC front door, domestic and commercial doors, bathroom and bedroom doors with thumb turn locks and deadbolts. 

Overlooked signs leading to the situation of key suddenly not working in a lock

There are some telltale signs prior to having the problem of having a key turning but not locking. When your lock won’t engage, this will lead to your key suddenly not working in your lock. However, there are other signs of this problem that you’ll want to look out for. Doing this will help you prevent a sticky situation from occurring, or enable you to address the problem more swiftly. Here are some of the most common signs leading to this problem: 

  • Recently, the door handle has become floppy or loose: A floppy or loose door handle will affect the locking mechanism in the door and this is one of the first signs for the problem of a key turning in a lock and it not locking.
  • Door lock is difficult to unlock with a key: All locks have keys made specifically for them, and while this may seem obvious, it’s important to pay attention to whether your key locks or unlocks your door with ease. Sometimes, it becomes more difficult to do this, and this is another sign of damage.
  • The UPVC lock cylinder spins around: This is another telltale sign of a faulty lock mechanism. Your UPVC lock mechanism simply spins around but doesn’t perform its main function – namely, locking and unlocking.
  • Door lock mechanism looks misaligned: This could be caused by an incorrectly installed door or lock mechanism. Such misalignment could be another reason for your key turning into your door.

Reasons why your key keeps turning in the door lock (and how to fix this)

Now that we’ve covered some of the main signs for why your key keeps turning in your door lock or why your key turns but won’t unlock, it’s time to look at the solutions to this problem. However, before you take any drastic measures, make sure that you are using the right key as a preliminary check. 

#1. Failing cam/tailpiece lever 

Cause: The most common fault is that the cam or tailpiece lever is broken, the incorrect one has been installed or the cam is stuck out of position. 

Solution: Depending on the cause, you will either need to repair the cam, or get a new one installed. 

#2. Security curtain is worn out

Cause: Your security curtain might be worn out due to excessive wear and tear.

Solution: You can solve this problem by replacing it with a new one. 

#3. Faulty Euro cylinder or barrel 

Cause: A faulty Euro cylinder or barrel could be another reason why your key keeps turning in the door lock.

Solution: Rely on a trusted professional to help you replace your Euro cylinder or barrel.

#4. Unreliable door lock installation

Cause: The final reason for your key turning in your lock without locking/unlocking the door is that the door installation was faulty to begin with. This could result in misalignments between the different lock mechanisms.

Solution: Consider realigning your doors. This could mean checking that the hinges are screwed in place properly, loose door handles are tightened or the entire door needs to be realigned. 

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Why your key turns but the deadbolt won’t unlock?

Your key turns but the deadbolt won’t unlock? There are three main reasons for this:

  1. The first is that you may have an older type Schlage lock, which was originally manufactured to consist of two parts. Gradually, over time, this situation was rectified as the original two-piece solution was found to be a faulty design of the tailpiece.
  2. The second reason may relate to the manufacturer of the deadbolt. According to sources, there is a piece in the centre of the deadbolt bolt, which is round with a cross-shaped hole. This is the part of the lock that the tailpiece goes through. This is what actuates the bolt. While some manufacturers use steel, others use cast metal, the latter option being the cheaper version. However, there are some problems with cast metal as this can break much easier than steel. That’s why if your deadbolt lock is not functioning, this could be the reason.
  3. The final reason is the misalignment between the deadbolt on your door and the strike plate that the extended bolt fits through on your frame. By exerting a lot of force to get the door unlocked or locked, then this causes stress on these parts. The tailpiece is usually the victim here and it can become indented to such an extent that eventually the metal wears away. 

Take proactive lock testing to prevent a door lock spinning situation

Of course, there are some tests you can take to prevent your door lock from spinning and avoiding this situation in the future. 

  • UPVC door lock test: Firstly, close the door and then lift the handle. Then turn the key to lock and unlock it. See whether your key is hard to turn when doing so. If this is the case, this could be an indication of misaligned strike plates and this risks causing stress to the inner lock parts whenever you turn your key. Secondly, open the door and lift the handles to extend the bolts and use the key to lock the handles. Check whether it’s hard to turn the key at this point. If this is the case, you may need to either service the mechanism or it may simply need lubrication. In either case, this will require the removal of the lock and mechanism. However, make sure you do not spray any silicone lubricant in the key hole. There is also graphite powder you can use to help with the lubrication.
  • Mortice lock test: Start by closing the door and turning the key to lock and unlock it. If it is hard for you to turn your key, it could mean that the strike plate is misaligned and this could lead to stressing the inner lock parts whenever you turn your key. For the next step, open the door and turn the key to extend the bolt. If it is difficult to do so, your lock may need to be lubricated. In such cases, the lock should be removed in order for the inner parts to be cleaned and lubricated. Any silicone based spray lubricant should work, while grease could do an even better job. Furthermore, consider the fact that the lock may need to be adjusted in order for it to be straight inside the door. If it is at an angle, you won’t be able to insert the key properly, making it hard to turn.

Need help to fix key spinning in lock?

To avoid being locked out of your home, you will need to assess and address the situation. This could mean fixing the lock or having it replaced. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, all locksmiths we work with follow strict health and safety standards. While this may be a quick fix, bear in mind that the work needs to be executed correctly, otherwise, the problem could be made worse or reappear in the future.

Key keeps turning in your door lock? Have it fixed today!

Arrange a professional locksmith with Fantastic Services to get you out of trouble.

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The usual time frame for addressing this problem will depend on the work that needs to be done and its level of complexity. However, this usually takes place between 30 minutes and one hour. The costs for lock changes start from £59 while lock repairs start from £71.

Takeaways

  • This can happen with UPVC doors and doors with thumb turn locks and deadbolts.
  • Investigate the issue to take proper action. Rely on the services of a professional locksmith to help you address it.
  • Be proactive and test locks to prevent a door lock spinning situation.

***

Did you manage to fix your lock? What was the cause with your door lock? Share your experience in the comment section below.

Image source: Shutterstock / Polsinaut

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