Changing lock body

Does your door get stuck and cannot open, even when you’re certain that it’s the correct key? Or have you noticed that the door latch doesn’t fully retract or extend, even when you press the handles down? Changing the lock body might be required.

Don’t ignore the issue  – you might have a serious problem at hand. This can be due to a  faulty or spoilt lock body. When this happens, the lock can malfunction and cause emergency situations, when someone is trapped inside their room, or when you get stuck outside your door.

Let’s find out why this happens, when you need to change your lock body, and what you can do to minimise the chances of this happening!

Why does my lock body spoil, and when do I need to change my lock body?

1) Lock body splits open

Changing lock body

Changing lock body for a door in an industrial building at Jurong East. Our customer told us that he was not able to lock and unlock the door.

When we arrival, we found that the door latch could not retract when we tried locking and unlocking the door. The latch was extended, but being stuck in the locked position. We found this strange, for two reasons. Firstly, the lock body is relatively new. Secondly, the door is made of metal, which is a very solid door material. So we decided to remove the lock body for further examination.

What we discovered was that the bottom of the lock body had split open. The mystery of the damaged lock body was finally solved. We immediately changed it to a new lock body, which rectified the locking issue.

2) Lock body is constantly exposed to sun and rain

Left hand panel with a ‘before’ label at the top left corner, showing a hand holding the lock body and displaying its rusty side. Right hand panel labelled ‘After’ at the top right hand corner showing a newly replaced lock body from the side, with the owner’s keys inserted in the cylinder lock
In this image, there are two panels labelled ‘Before’ and ‘After’ at the top left hand corner. The panel labelled ‘before’ shows the original lock body, displaying its rusty face plate. In the panel labelled ‘After’, the newly replaced lock body has been fitted into the door mortise, with a key inserted into the cylinder lock.

Our customer told us of their difficulties with his balcony door. Their key could turn in the lock, but the door could not open. We managed this lock opening and replacement at Bukit Timah.

After opening the door, we discovered that the top latch of the lock body was faulty, and had lodged in the door frame. This was why our customer could not open the door. We removed the old lock lock immediately, changing it to a new one.

Additionally, we also realised two factors that contributed to the lock body spoiling. Firstly, as it is a balcony door, the lock body turned rusty, due to constant exposure to sun and rain. Secondly, the balcony door was drooping down, which can add pressure to the latches of the lock body and cause them to spoil faster.

After changing the lock body, we advised our customer to maintain the lock body with WD40. We also advised them to seek the help of a door specialist as soon as they could, in order to keep the lock body working optimally.

3) Door or gate misalignment

The following image shows three panels labelled 1,2, and 3. In panel 1, a side view of the original gate lock body in its gate mortise, with its faulty top latch, circled in yellow, is shown. In panel 2, the removed lock body is laid on its side, with an index finger indicating the spoilt latch. In panel 3, the newly replaced gate lock body is shown, already fitted into the mortise

For this particular case at Dover, the top latch would not retract or extend fully when the handles were pressed. This would cause the gate to get stuck sometimes. We tried servicing the lock body, but the issue still persisted.

After changing lock body, we discovered that the alignment of the gate was slightly off. This misalignment can put constant pressure to the latch, causing the top latch to spoil. We decided to remove the main gate frame plate for extra allowance. The frame plate is not needed in this case, as the gate is already made of metal.

4) Door does not open, even with the key

Opening lock and changing lock body

In this case at Yishun, our customer approached to open their door, as it was stuck. Even with the key, they could  not open it. After investigating, we found that the mechanism operating the lock and latch had jammed, and could not be repaired either. After the door was opened, we advised the owner to change the entire lock body instead. By the way, this is what a typical lock body looks like.

For this reason alone, we strongly urge all customers to check their door handle latches frequently. An optimally working door handle latch should fully retract when the handle is depressed. Latches that are on the verge of spoiling usually retract halfway through, or not at all.

If this is currently happening to you, we encourage you to seek advice from us, or any reputable locksmith. This case shows the dire consequences that can result from a damaged door handle latch!

We also remove stuck keys from locks, and change doorknob latches as part of our locksmith services. If you enjoyed this post, do like and follow our Youtube and Facebook pages for more useful tips and fresh updates!

For lock enquiries and appointments, we can be reached at 8812 7499.

This article was originally published on 12 March 2019, and has been updated on 25 May 2022 to reflect new information and insights that we have received from our customers.

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