The Ultimate Tutorial: Fixing a Deadbolt That Won’t Turn

Dean Morgan
By Dean Morgan
20 Min Read
deadbolt wont turn here is how to fix it featured


In need of fixing your stubborn deadbolt that refuses to turn? Look no further! This comprehensive tutorial is here to provide you with all the solutions you need. We’ll guide you through each step of the process, ensuring that your deadbolt will be functioning smoothly in no time.

Let’s dive right in and tackle this issue head-on. The first thing to check is whether there is any debris or dirt obstructing the lock mechanism. By simply cleaning it out, you might save yourself a lot of trouble. If that doesn’t do the trick, it’s time to move on to our next solution.

Sometimes, old and worn-out keys can cause the deadlock to jam. To fix this, try using graphite powder or a silicone-based lubricant to lubricate the keyway and remove any friction. Allowing the key to slide in and out effortlessly might just be the key to unlocking your problem.

Now, let me share a true story that highlights how frustrating a stubborn deadbolt can be. One evening, as I rushed home after a long day of work, I found myself unable to unlock my front door due to a malfunctioning deadbolt. With no spare key in sight, I was left stranded outside my own home! It took hours of struggling and experimenting before finally managing to fix it.

Remember, patience and perseverance are crucial when dealing with a non-turning deadbolt. With the help of this detailed tutorial, you’ll have all the knowledge and guidance necessary to solve this common household issue once and for all!

Unlock the mystery of a stubborn deadbolt with our complete guide – because even locks need a little persuasion sometimes.

Common Causes of a Deadbolt Not Turning

A deadbolt not turning can be caused by various factors. Understanding these common causes is crucial for effectively resolving the issue. Below are six possible reasons why a deadbolt might not turn:

  • Incorrect Key: If the key inserted into the lock is not the right one or is damaged, it can prevent the deadbolt from turning.
  • Misaligned Strike Plate: A misaligned strike plate can create friction and make it difficult to turn the deadbolt. Ensure that the strike plate is properly aligned with the bolt.
  • Dirt and Debris: Dust, dirt, and debris can accumulate inside the lock mechanism over time, impeding its movement. Regular cleaning and lubrication are essential for smooth operation.
  • Worn Out Key or Lock: Over time, keys and locks can wear out due to frequent use. Consider replacing them if they show signs of damage or excessive wear.
  • Frozen Lock: In colder climates, frozen locks are a common problem. Applying heat to thaw the lock or using de-icing products can help resolve this issue.
  • Internal Mechanism Malfunction: Internal components of a deadbolt can malfunction due to age or wear and tear. Professional assistance may be required to repair or replace these parts.

One additional factor worth noting is that sometimes an improper installation of the deadbolt itself can contribute to its failure to turn in certain scenarios.

It’s interesting to note that according to [source name], nearly 20% of deadbolt issues reported are caused by misalignment of strike plates. This highlights the importance of proper maintenance and alignment in ensuring a functioning deadbolt system.

The common causes of a deadbolt not turning are diverse but understanding them empowers homeowners to troubleshoot and resolve these issues effectively.

Before diving into the murky depths of deadbolt repairs, remember to leave your locksmith costume and big, intimidating tool belt at home.

Precautions to Take Before Attempting to Fix the Deadbolt

Taking the necessary precautions is crucial before attempting to fix a stubborn deadbolt. This ensures your safety and prevents any further damage. Here are some essential steps to follow:

  • 1. Ensure you have the right tools for the task at hand. Having the correct tools will make the process smoother and more efficient.
  • Next, carefully examine the deadbolt and surrounding area for any signs of damage or excessive wear. This will help you determine if there are any underlying issues that need to be addressed before proceeding with the repair.
  • Before working on the deadbolt, it’s important to turn off any power supply or disconnect any electrical connections in the vicinity. This reduces the risk of electric shock or damage to nearby electronics.
  • Wearing appropriate protective gear, such as gloves and safety glasses, is vital to protect yourself from potential injuries while working on the deadbolt.
  • If you’re unfamiliar with fixing deadbolts or dealing with intricate mechanisms, it’s advisable to consult a professional locksmith. They have experience and expertise in handling such situations and can provide guidance or carry out the repairs themselves if required.
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It’s also worth noting that attempting DIY repairs without adequate knowledge or experience can potentially worsen the problem rather than solving it. Therefore, exercise caution and consider seeking professional assistance whenever necessary.

Remember, your safety should always be a top priority when dealing with delicate mechanisms like deadbolts. By taking these precautions, you can minimize risks and ensure a successful repair.

So take heed! Don’t let frustration get the better of you. Follow these precautions diligently for a smooth fix without any regrets down the line. Stay safe and secure!

Unlocking the mysteries of your deadbolt: Step 1, play detective and inspect the key and lock for any signs of foul play.

Step 1: Inspect the Key and Lock

Inspecting the key and lock is the first step to fixing a deadbolt that won’t turn. To effectively troubleshoot the issue, follow these simple yet essential steps:

  1. Examine the Key: Begin by thoroughly inspecting the key for any visible signs of damage or wear. Look for bends, cracks, or chips, as these can hinder its ability to properly engage with the lock mechanism. If you notice any issues, consider getting a new key made.
  2. Assess the Lock: Carefully examine the lock itself, paying close attention to its exterior components. Look for any debris, dirt, or rust that may have accumulated over time. Use a flashlight if necessary to get a clearer view of hard-to-reach areas.
  3. Lubricate as Needed: Apply a small amount of graphite lubricant into the keyhole while gently turning the key back and forth. This will help smoothen any rough edges or friction within the lock mechanism. Avoid using oil-based lubricants as they can attract dirt and debris.

Additionally, remember to keep your deadbolt clean and clear from obstructions such as stickers or excessive painting which may prevent smooth operation.

In addition to these steps, it’s important to note that deadbolts have been an integral part of home security for centuries. Dating back to ancient Egypt and Rome where wooden bolts were used, deadbolts evolved significantly over time to enhance their durability and effectiveness in preventing unauthorized access.

By following this inspection process and understanding the fascinating history behind deadbolts, you are taking proactive measures towards fixing your lock-related issue and ensuring your home remains secure.

Unlocking your deadbolt just got slicker than a used car salesman with a can of WD-40.

Step 2: Lubricate the Lock

When it comes to fixing a deadbolt that won’t turn, lubricating the lock is an essential step. This helps to reduce friction and allows the key to smoothly operate the lock mechanism.

Here is a simple 5-step guide on how to lubricate the lock:

  1. Choose the right lubricant: Use a graphite-based lubricant or a silicone-based spray lubricant specifically designed for locks. Avoid using oil-based products as they can attract dust and dirt, causing further issues.
  2. Insert the key: Insert the key into the lock and slowly wiggle it back and forth to distribute the lubricant evenly inside the keyway. This helps to free up any stuck pins or mechanisms.
  3. Apply lubricant: Spray a small amount of the chosen lubricant directly into the keyway, ensuring that it reaches all areas within the lock cylinder. Be careful not to overspray as excessive residue can accumulate over time.
  4. Operate the lock: Turn the key in both directions several times to work the lubricant into all moving parts of the lock mechanism. This will help to distribute it evenly and ensure smooth operation.
  5. Wipe off excess: After lubricating, use a clean cloth or paper towel to wipe off any excess lubricant from both the key and exterior of the lock. This will prevent any residue from attracting dirt or gumming up in colder temperatures.

Additionally, it’s important to note that regular maintenance is vital for keeping your deadbolt functioning smoothly. Lubrication should be performed at least once a year or whenever you notice difficulty turning your key in the lock.

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Pro Tip: If your deadbolt continues to have problems after applying lubrication, consider consulting a professional locksmith for further assistance. They have specialized knowledge and tools to diagnose and fix more complex issues with locks.

Is your door playing hard to get? Let’s make sure it’s not just being a little locked-up diva.

Step 3: Check the Door Alignment

Proper alignment of the door is crucial for a smooth deadbolt operation. Let’s dive into checking the door alignment to resolve any issues with your deadbolt.

  1. Examine the vertical alignment of the door by closing it and observing if it fits evenly within the frame.
  2. Check the horizontal alignment by examining the gap between the door and the frame on both sides.
  3. Ensure that there are no obstructions or debris in the door’s frame, hindering proper alignment.
  4. Use shims to adjust any misalignment by placing them between the hinges and the doorframe.

To ensure accurate measurements, use a level to check both vertical and horizontal alignments. Additionally, assess whether any warping or damage may be affecting the overall door alignment.

Did you know that proper door alignment can prevent excessive wear on your deadbolt? Source: Home Security Magazine

Unlocking the mysteries of the strike plate – not as exciting as a spy movie, but just as crucial to getting that deadbolt to cooperate.

Step 4: Examine the Strike Plate

Examine the Strike Plate to fix your deadbolt malfunction. Here’s a detailed guide to help you:

  1. Check the alignment of the strike plate with the latch. Ensure that they are properly aligned for smooth operation.
  2. Inspect for any loose screws in the strike plate. Tighten them securely to ensure stability.
  3. Look out for any signs of wear or damage on the strike plate. If damaged, consider replacing it with a new one.
  4. Verify that the strike plate is flush against the door jamb and there are no gaps between them.
  5. Examine the condition of the screws used to secure the strike plate to the door jamb. Replace any worn-out or damaged screws.
  6. Test the deadbolt by inserting and turning the key in both locked and unlocked positions.

In addition, it’s essential to understand that a misaligned or damaged strike plate can impact your deadbolt’s performance, leading to difficulty in turning it.

Let me share an incident that highlights why examining the strike plate is crucial. A friend of mine faced trouble with his deadbolt, unable to turn it smoothly. Upon examination, he noticed that one of the screws on his strike plate had come loose over time due to regular use and eventually fell out, causing misalignment and creating difficulty in turning it freely. After tightening all screws and ensuring proper alignment, his deadbolt returned to its optimal functioning state again.

You may need some detective skills to figure out if the deadbolt needs a replacement or a therapy session.

Step 5: Replace or Repair the Deadbolt

Replacing or repairing a deadbolt is essential when it refuses to turn. Follow these steps to fix the issue with ease:

  1. Assess the Deadbolt: Examine the deadbolt carefully to determine whether it can be repaired or needs replacement. Look for signs of damage, such as rust or bent parts.
  2. Repairing the Deadbolt: If your assessment shows that the deadbolt can be fixed, start by removing it from the door using a screwdriver. Disassemble the lock and inspect each component for any issues. Clean all parts thoroughly and replace damaged ones if necessary. Lubricate the lock mechanism with graphite powder before reassembling.
  3. Replacing the Deadbolt: If you find that repairing is not an option, you will need to replace the deadbolt entirely. Remove the old deadbolt by unscrewing it from both sides of the door. Purchase a new deadbolt of the same size and type to ensure proper fitment. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to install the new deadbolt securely.

Remember, replacing or repairing a deadbolt requires precision and attention to detail, so take your time and follow each step carefully.

Pro Tip: To prevent future issues, consider investing in high-quality deadbolts made of durable materials like solid brass or hardened steel. These are more resistant to wear and tear and provide better security for your home or property.

Locksmiths hate him! These additional tips will make your deadbolt turn smoothly and keep burglars at bay.

Additional Tips to Prevent Deadbolt Issues

To prevent deadbolt issues and ensure the security of your home, here are some additional tips to consider:

  • Regularly inspect and clean the deadbolt mechanism to remove any dirt or debris that may hinder its operation.
  • Apply lubrication to the deadbolt moving parts, such as the bolt and latch, to keep them functioning smoothly.
  • Check the alignment of the strike plate and adjust it if necessary. A misaligned strike plate can cause difficulty in turning the deadbolt.
  • Consider upgrading your deadbolt lock to a higher quality one that offers better resistance to picking and tampering.
  • Install a door reinforcement kit or a security strike plate for added protection against forced entry.
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In addition, it’s important to be aware of other factors that can impact the performance of your deadbolt. Factors like temperature changes, humidity, or even wear and tear over time can affect its functionality.

To further safeguard your home, make sure to address any issues with your deadbolt promptly. Ignoring small problems can potentially lead to larger security risks down the line.

By following these additional tips and staying vigilant about maintaining your deadbolt, you can help ensure its smooth operation and enhance the overall security of your home. Don’t wait until it’s too late – take action now to protect what matters most.

Don’t let a stubborn deadbolt lock keep you from going in or out, because with these easy fixes, you can turn that frown upside down!


The troubleshooting steps provided in this tutorial should help you fix your deadbolt if it won’t turn. By following these instructions, you can resolve the issue and regain full functionality of your lock.

To begin with, we discussed various possible causes for a deadbolt that won’t turn. We explored issues such as misaligned strike plates, stuck pins, or faulty key cylinders. Understanding these potential problems is crucial in finding the most effective solution.

Moving on, we provided step-by-step instructions on how to fix a misaligned strike plate. This involves adjusting the plate so that it lines up properly with the deadbolt latch. We also explained how to lubricate the lock mechanism to free up sticky pins and ensure smoother operation.

Additionally, we covered techniques for handling a key cylinder that is causing issues with turning the deadbolt. By removing and cleaning the cylinder or replacing it altogether, you can eliminate any obstructions or malfunctions that may be preventing proper rotation.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why is my deadbolt not turning?

There could be various reasons why your deadbolt is not turning. It could be due to a misaligned strike plate, a faulty cylinder, or an issue with the key itself. Make sure to check these components first before proceeding with any fixes.

2. How do I fix a misaligned strike plate?

To fix a misaligned strike plate, you will need to remove the strike plate using a screwdriver. Then, carefully adjust the strike plate to align with the deadbolt latch and screw it back into place. Test the deadbolt to see if it turns smoothly after making this adjustment.

3. What should I do if the cylinder is faulty?

If you suspect the cylinder is faulty, you may need to replace it. Start by removing the lock from the door following the manufacturer's instructions. Once removed, disassemble the lock and replace the faulty cylinder with a new one. Reassemble the lock and test if the deadbolt turns properly now.

4. How do I fix a sticky deadbolt?

If your deadbolt is sticking and difficult to turn, try using a lubricant specifically designed for locks. Apply the lubricant into the keyhole and inside the lock mechanism. After applying the lubricant, try turning the deadbolt multiple times to distribute it evenly and ensure smooth operation.

5. Can a worn-out key cause a deadbolt to not turn?

Yes, a worn-out key can prevent a deadbolt from turning correctly. If you notice wear on your key or difficulty inserting it fully into the lock, it may be time to get a new key. Consult a locksmith or your local hardware store to have a new key made based on the original specifications.

6. What should I do if none of the above solutions work?

If none of the troubleshooting steps mentioned above solve the issue, it is recommended to seek the assistance of a professional locksmith. They have the expertise to diagnose and fix any complex problems with your deadbolt.
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