Frozen Door Lock

Why door locks freeze,
and what you can
do about it.

Frozen Door Lock

Frozen Door Lock

Why a Door Lock

House locks, on the average
have five pairs of pins,
located within a cylinder,
that need to move freely to
engage recesses that
lock the door.

The cylinder that these
pins fit into must also
be allowed to rotate freely.

When the key is inserted
into the cylinder, the
different shapes cut into
the key line up with the
pins that push them
into place.

When the key is inserted
and turned the cylinder
rotates and locks or
unlocks the door.

When the outside
temperature plunge to
minus 20 to 30 degrees
Fahrenheit, any
moisture within the door
lock mechanism may
freeze the door lock
metal parts solidly
together, especially in
windy conditions, where
the chill factor is even

The house door locks that
freeze, are the ones located
in rooms cooler that normal
room temperature, such
as where a outside garage
door connects to a house.

The garage is usually not
heated as well as inside
the house so the lock
mechanism within the
door may not stay warm,
which allows the lock
mechanism to freeze-up.

The moisture in the warmer
air in the garage tries to
escape to the outside
where the air is dryer, the
moist air passes along
the edge of the door, and
inside the lock enclosure
and lock assembly parts.

When this moisture contacts
the cold metal of the lock,
it freezes.

The moisture content in the
air at 30% will freeze a
lock at between -20 to -30
depending on wind chill.

As the moisture content
in the home raises, it takes
less cold to freeze the lock.

Older lock assemblies that
have been lubricated at
one time, attract dust and
grim over time, the oil
and grime dry out, this
causes the lock assembly to
become sluggish, which
adds to the problem.

When moisture is added,
the water particles attach
to the grime and metal
and freeze the lock

Frozen Door Bolt

Fixing a Frozen
Door Lock

To fix this problem the door
lock mechanism must be
removed from the door and
all oil and grime must be
removed from the sliding
and turning parts.

Use a Philips screwdriver to
remove the two long bolts
(2 inches) which hold the
knob turning assembly
Remove the two short
screws (3/4 inch) that hold
the bolt sliding mechanism
to the door.

Turning anti-counterclockwise
removes the screws.

Slide out the bolt assembly.
Wash all the lock mechanisms
thoroughly with Varsol
or similar solvent, using a
paint brush.

Place the sliding bolt assembly
into a container like a used
metal coffee container, add
solvent, place the lid on and
shake thoroughly.

Dry off all the lock mechanisms
with a cloth and finish drying
with an electric hair dryer
or heat gun.

Do not get too close; just
close enough to heat the
metal to vaporize the

When finished the metal
should have a very dry look.
If the knob assembly is
sluggish, also clean it well
with a solvent.


Lubricating a House
Lock Mechanism

A couple of products
recommended to lubricate the
lock mechanisms are WD40,
and Lloyds MooVit high
performance penetrating

WD40 has more smell than

Lubrication is needed to
displace moisture and
provide lubrication to
the turning, and
sliding mechanisms.

Lightly spray all the
moving parts.

Assembling the Lock

Install the sliding bolt
assembly into the door.

The beveled edge points
towards the hole in the
door jam.

Secure in place with the
two short screws.

Clockwise tightens.

Slide the door knob
assembly into place, with
the keyed side facing
the outside, and the
manual locking inside.

Secure together with
the two long bolts
(2 inches).

Start the bolts with finger
pressure to prevent cross

Center the door knob
assembly on the hole
in the door and tighten.


For the very difficult frozen
lock, carry a small butane
cigarette lighter, heat the
key, the heated key will
warm the inside of the
lock, and unfreeze the lock
mechanism momentarily,
allowing you to enter
the home.

This action will also work for
frozen car door locks.

Try placing an old woolen
sock over the outside
door knob, this may help
the warm air in the house
to keep the lock mechanism
from freezing.

You may even consider
fashioning a gasket and O
ring arrangement on the
inside of the house door;
the door lock mechanism
to prevent moisture from
entering into the lock

Some people have even
reported to have used vehicle
brake fluid as a lubricant, to
prevent lock mechanisms


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Door Lock Freezes
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You might be interested
in these links.

Door Security

Fahrenheit Celsius

Solar Minus
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Wind Chill

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