Lock sticking? The Gaff Goddess knows how to loosen things up

Household hacks: How to avoid an expensive locksmith appointment

 

Arriving home to spend five minutes jiggling your keys in a stiff lock can really top off a bad day, not to mention delay that moment when we get to kick our heels off and fling ourselves on the couch. It’s something many of us will live with, thinking that the only alternative is a costly replacement lock.

However there is plenty you can do yourself before you need to give your locksmith a call. First up: check your key. Sometimes these can bend, which means you’ve found the problem and she needs to be replaced.

If your key looks fine, check your lock and its fitting. There could be a loose screw that is affecting how everything is sitting and making life difficult for your key.

Still not opening smoothly? This is usually down to the lock being “sticky”. Provided there’s nothing wrong with the mechanics of the lock, all you need is a little lubrication.

Supplies needed: Graphite powder; pencil

Photograph: iStock
Photograph: iStock

Lubrication should not come in the form of an oil or spray, contrary to popular advice. These may loosen things up for a short period but end up attracting dirt and grit and presenting you with a whole new issue later down the line.

Most locks need to be lubricated back into smooth action with a dry lubricant. Enter graphite powder. She is dry enough to not cause problems, and will gently lubricate the parts that are sticking and get our locks back to normal.

When buying graphite powder, go for one in a dispenser that comes with a long thin nozzle. This will allow you to squeeze the tube so it will spray right into the lock. Not too much! You only need a little. Then spray on to both sides of the key and tap off the excess as you would a bronzer brush. Slide into the lock, turn, and back out. Repeat a few times. You should feel her loosening up and the sticking reducing.

If you are in a hurry and need to work with what you have, you can do some work with a humble pencil. Really! Although we call the centre lead, it is actually also made from graphite. By running the pencil along the key, it will coat it enough to give some lubrication. This is also a stunning way to make the metal zip on that vintage skirt of yours run more smoothly – simply run the pencil along her teeth. She’ll work like a dream after.

Laura de Barra, aka the Gaff Goddess, is a property manager, author and She-IY enthusiast from Cork, now based in London

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