Skip to main content
No. of Recommendations: 1
Is it common for deadbolt locks to be sensitive to the weather? At my parents house, the deadbolt becomes very difficult to lock/unlock in cold weather. Similarly, in my condo the deadbolt is easier in the winter, and gets a little difficult in hotter weather. If i wanted to try to adjust the lock for this, what should I do? (my tenants in my condo are complaining about the lock being difficult to turn)
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1
wood expands/contracts with different moisture conditions. Maybe if you loosen tighten the strike plate?
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Are your doors wood? Usually wood shrinks, or swells a bit with changes in humidity which usually changes summer to winter. So the slot that the bolt or latch goes into can become less accessable.

Usually the lock plate has a bit of play. So if its not too bad, moving it abt 1/8" toward the door might help a lot. Sometimes it is necessary to increase the size of the bore hole behind the plate. Note that this weakens the lock and makes it easier to kick the door in, so careful.

If you have weather stripping around the door, you might want to check it. Is it still flexible? If hardened or painted over, etc, replacing it with something softer can help. Or if you have too much weather stripping, a thinner strip might work just a well.

Usually a bit of detective work will identify the major cause. But don't forget about warped doors. They can be a pain. New door. Metal door is the ultimate fix if all else fails. New lock might be cheaper.

Good luck.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1
Usually a bit of detective work will identify the major cause. But don't forget about warped doors.

I'm sure that's the cause. If the door warps a little, which is common in a season where the humidity changes, then the bolt may be scraping against the strike plate in the door jamb, making it very hard to turn. Or it could be that the turning mechanism of the lock itself is so close to the wood in the door that it is binding a little.

My first guess would be to see where the deadbolt actually slides into the strike plate, and if that is the cause, file down the metal of the strike plate a tad. If the wood hasn't been cleanly removed from the "hole" then you might need to chisel out a smidge from that, too.

And a little WD-40 on the lock mechanism never hurt anything.
 
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 2
(my tenants in my condo are complaining about the lock being difficult to turn)

Try operating the deadbolt with the door open. If that's a problem, just get a new deadbolt. They're $30 at HD and should take you less than 10 minutes to install.

But if the lock operates fine with the door open, then I agree with the others that you've got an alignment problem with deadbolt and the jamb. Push and pull and lift the door while operating the deadbolt to try to figure out where the interference is. The do a little filing/chiseling/material removal to make it easier to operate.

--Peter <== whose new front door settled enough to require some filing on the bottom of the hole in the jamb.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
My first guess would be to see where the deadbolt actually slides into the strike plate, and if that is the cause, file down the metal of the strike plate a tad.

My advice would be the same as Goofy's and the other poster that said to test the operation with the door open. If it works fine with the door open, you can try filing the strike plate. You probably don't need to file it down much except to just smooth off edges. You can aalso remove the strike plate and try and repostion it slightly. To do this superglue some toothpicks into the screw holes so that you can move it over by a fraction of an inch (i.e. 1/32th or 1/64th). This may only be a good solution for one direction.

Mike

Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Usually a bit of detective work will identify the major cause. But don't forget about warped doors. They can be a pain. New door. Metal door is the ultimate fix if all else fails.

Sorry for the "devil's advocate" question, but even if (all else fails) you replace the door with a metal one, usually the frame is wooden. Yeah, granted, a frame (even if it is wood) will have less displacement, but if the frame wasn't stable...

Jennifer
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1
You can also try spraying a bit of graphite into the lock mechanism. We have a deadbolt that I was afraid I was going to break the key in. After a shot of graphite, it got much easier to work.

We still have to pull the door closed in order to turn the key, but at least the key turns with little effort.

amg2
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
It may also be a function of the soil on which the house is constructed. My house (2 stories with a full basement) is built in an area with clay beneath the topsoil. The house 'shifts' enough between the summer and winter seasons, that the front door is easy to both close and lock in the summer and difficult to close and lock in the winter. In fact, I usually have to sort of "lean into" the door with my shoulder when closing it to help push it shut.

I'm in an area with high humidity in the summer adn low humidity in the winter. The humidity doesn't seem to be a factor.

HTH,

omni
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 5
I'm in an area with high humidity in the summer adn low humidity in the winter. The humidity doesn't seem to be a factor.

Not to discount your soil theory, but why are you dismissing the humidity? You say you have a big humidity swing between seasons. And you have an issue with the door latching and locking between seasons. That's a classic humidity problem. It's just that your door is adjusted to fit well in the high humidity season - the summer.

Which makes sense, really. In areas with cold winters, not many houses are constructed during the winter. If your house was finished in the summer (which the odds favor) the door would have been adjusted to fit best at the time it was installed - the summer high humidity season.

Still, it could be ground heaving. But foundations are designed so as to minimize or eliminate those problems. So I rather doubt it.

--Peter
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Peter,

That fact is that my house shifts due to the clay subsoils. I have had soil experts here (for another issue) and this is on what they all agree.

Knowing this and knowing that the summer humidity would cause the wood to swell (and thus make it more difficult to close the door) and the winter dryness shoudl make it easier to close the door. Yet the shifting of the house causes the opposite to be true.

I hope this allays your doubts.

omni
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
That fact is that my house shifts due to the clay subsoils. I have had soil experts here (for another issue) and this is on what they all agree.

OK. Rather unusual, but I'll have to accept it.

knowing that the summer humidity would cause the wood to swell (and thus make it more difficult to close the door) and the winter dryness shoudl make it easier to close the door.

This is where the logic falls apart. Humidity will probably cause the wood to swell. But that does not necessarily mean the door will be harder to close. The door will likely not just get bigger. It will twist and deform in multiple directions, depending on how the wood is laid out in the door. Some pieces will swell more than others, causing twisting or cupping. And the individual pieces will also twist and cup and lengthen. In short, the door will do anything but expand like a balloon.

Of course, all this complex motion reverses when the humidity drops. Or mostly reverses. Depending on how far the humidity drops and how long it drops. And how high it was before dropping.

The way I write this, it sounds like it's a miracle that any door fits at all from summer to winter.

So the door may be adjusted to fit just fine swollen up with the summer humidity. When winter comes and the dry air prevails, the door might stop fitting as well as it shrinks and twists and cups. (Or un-twists and un-cups, if that's your point of reference).

Still, if your whole house is shifting because of soil movement, that movement is probably overwhelming any movement from wood expansion and contraction. And that would be the cause of YOUR sticky doors and misaligned locks.

--Peter <== who experiences the humid season is in the winter and the dry season in the summer. Deserts and all, you know.
Print the post Back To Top