August 24, 2012

Tip of the Week: What to do if your locked out

Did you lock yourself out of the house? Have you tried the windows and other access points and come to the realization that you need a locksmith?  Do you ever feel weird paying someone to break into your house?  I always worry about them having a separate set of keys they could use any time to come back in.  The following is a list of things your locksmith won’t tell you.  Hopefully you will feel a little better the next time you need to change your locks, or at least feel better informed.

What you don’t know is that a lot of locksmiths do undercover work for the cops.  They make keys for them and get into places at 3 a.m. so they can set up surveillance equipment or put the bugs in place.

  • Contractors stick at installing dead bolts. Locksmiths constantly go out to re key or let someone in and find problems.  If it’s not installed right it won’t protect you.

  • The best lock is a dead bolt that’s properly installed.  It should have at least a one inch “throw” and on the “strike side” there should be a security plate with screws at least three inches long that go all the way into the door’s wood frame.

  • If you have a window on or near your door, a thumb turn dead bolt won’t do much good.  They knock out the glass, stick in a hand, and turn.  Get a double cylinder lock that needs a key on the inside.

  • Think twice before you buy a locked safe at a flea market, estate sale, or auction. It’s probably going to cost you $300 or more to open it and chances are all you’re going to find is mouse poop.

  • When you buy a new house always have your locks re keyed.  Otherwise there is probably a master key out there can easily open your home.

  • Keys stamped “do not duplicate” are duplicated all the time. There is such a thing as high security locks with keys that can’t be replicated at the hardware store.

  • Locksmiths are supposed to check ID before they open anything, but half the time when someone is locked out of their house or car, where do you think there ID is?

  • The biggest mistake people make with their safe is spinning the dial to fast, trying to open before it’s unlocked, and forcing it closed when there is obviously a problem.

  • It is easy to break into the cheap locks from the big-box stores.   Most are mass produced by reputable manufacturers, but to very low standards.  Look for at least a grade 2.

  • They have seen dead bodies. It’s always a bad sign when the landlord calls to get into an apartment and no one has seen the tenant in 10 days.

  • Divorce lock outs are a challenge.  When the soon to be ex calls and says she is locked out, they will change the locks.  When the husband calls for the same thing, they refer him to a competitor.

  • Don’t feel bad if you have to call twice in a short time span.  People lock themselves out more than once in the same day all the time.

  • Never assume it’s an easy lock.  Sometimes the “easy locks” take the longest to break into.

  • Don’t believe a car dealer who says only he can duplicate keys.  Locksmiths can do it and they won’t charge as much

  • If your key wont turn try WD-40 or Silicon spray.  Sometimes the pins get jammed up and 20 to 45 % of the time that solves the problem.

  • Need to give a housekeeper a key, but feel uncomfortable?  Ask a locksmith to key your door so that your master key works on both the deadbolt and the doorknob, but hers works just on the knob. On the days she comes lock only the knob.

  • There are many scam artists out there.  They will quote a great price and then get there and tell you they have to drill because it’s a special lock.  They will charge 125$ for a replacement lock you can buy at Home Depot for 25$.

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