The lock and key set. We trust it so much that we can confidently leave the house unattended as long as it is locked. We leave the cars in the parking lot safe in the knowledge that it is locked. The most sacred and secret documents are tacked away in the safe deposit or at bank’s vault and you don’t even think about them for quite a while. But, one of life’s little nightmares is when you stand in front of the entry door, reach into the pocket to fish out the key, and lo behold! It is missing. The spare key is with your partner who you’ve just seen off at the airport. So you get confused what to do.
Elsewhere, a sales executive rushes out of the office to meet a client on the other side of town, she reaches into her bag for the car key but it is not there. She runs back to forage her desk and the drawers, nothing there either. She looks and ask around in a panic, then walks over to her car again, and voila! She has found it at last! But it is dangling from the ignition key hole. The door is locked and the windows winded all the way up. She had forgotten the key in the ignition hole. Who can she call for help? If your child tries to yank the mail box key out of its hole and ends up breaking it who will rescue the situation? Almost everyone has a story about their mishaps with the key. These scenarios play out in our daily lives and we need help as soon as possible. That is where the locksmith comes in.
Types of Locks
The American Abraham Stansbury was granted the patent for the first double-acting pin tumbler lock in 1805. In 1848, the American Linus Yale, Sr. invented the version used to date. In 1861, Linus Yale, Jr. designed the flat, serrated key and its pin mechanism, and again developed the combination lock in 1862. Locks are a security measure that disables, deters, or stalls intruders from accessing the interior of the house, car, box, safe, or any other enclosed space that is accessed via a door. The presence of a strong lock discourages burglars.
Generally, there are four types of locks suited for different situations, applications, security needs, and aesthetics. We have the padlock, deadbolt, lever, and knob lock. For example, the drawer, wardrobe, or medicine cabinet lock is a simple device to keep naughty children off. They are unlikely to try and break in. A safe requires a very strong and tamperproof lock, while the house needs a strong entry door lock that is hard to pick or bump. Securitysnobs.com describes the many variants of locks in the market.
The padlock is a freestanding locking system that is not attached to the door and can be either a combination or a keyed lock. The combination lock works by turning and aligning numbered dials in a wheel pack. There are four to eight dials. This lock is easy to crack when you pull the shackle firmly as if to open it and then turn the wheels hard in reverse until each wheel locks. The keyed padlock is opened by inserting a key in a cylinder. A keyed padlock can retain the key, meaning that the key only comes out when the padlock is locked. This is safe because you cannot lock the key inside the house. A padlock can be either rekeyed or not. A rekeyable padlock’s cylinder can be changed to be used with a master key, while a non-rekeyable padlock’s cylinder cannot be changed and remains unique to its key. It may have a protective shroud when locked to make it harder for an intruder to cut through the bolt. The padlock is mostly used in the barn, storeroom, or some other less aesthetic places.
The deadbolt is the most common lock at the entryway in American homes and comes in single, double, or lockable thumb turn. It is operated by rotating the cylinder with a key since it has no spring mechanism to reposition the cylinder. In a multipoint lock the deadbolt is used to lock the door while a latch or live bolt is used to shut and open it. A single cylinder deadbolt is only locked from outside and opened by a handle or thumb turn from inside, while a double cylinder deadbolt is locked and opened from both sides and has no thumb turn. A single cylinder is easy to intrude if you can reach the hand inside through a broken glass pane, side lite, or nearby window, and turn the thumb turn.
A double cylinder is safer because it uses a key on both sides of the door, but it is advisable to leave the key in the thumb turn when there are occupants in the house in case of an emergency. A lockable thumb turn is a hybrid of the single and double cylinder deadlock in which the thumb turn can be set to either “lock” or “unlock” position. It allows the occupants to evacuate easily during an emergency when it is “unlocked” and keep the door locked from intruders when “locked”.
The knob lock has the lock inside the knob itself. While the knob may look elegant, it is not appropriate as primary security measure because the knob can easily be broken off the door with a heavy hammer, or yanked out of the locking mechanism using a wrench and pliers.
Lever Handle Lock
A lever handle lock is basically an interior lock where the primary concern is privacy rather than security. The lock has a keyhole just like a knob lock, but turning to open is by a lever or handle. It is UD compliant for disabled persons. It can easily be tampered with using brute force. A clutch lever lock is more secure because when forced, it turns without operating the lock.
The cam lock has an extended tailpiece or cam that is connected to another locking mechanism. It is commonly used in filing cabinets, mailbox, wardrobes, lockers, drawers, desks, and other furniture doors. It mostly serves as a low-security deterrent and enhances privacy.
Rim or Mortise Cylinder
The rim and mortise cylinder it mostly used in glass-paneled entryway doors, especially in apartment. The rim cylinder is used in a rim latch lock connected via a long arm extending to the other side of the door, while a mortise lock is operated by a cam threaded into the door and held in place by a number of screws in the mortise. The mortise lock comes in different lengths and cams to suit the door size.
Interchangeable Core or IC Cylinder
The IC cylinder is an octagonal cylinder lock in a special and reinforced housing. It can be in either a small format or a large format. It is popular because its core can be swapped without dismounting the lock. It can also be re-keyed easily. It uses two keys; a standard key and a key that opens and pulls off the entire core for interchanging it with another core. Examples of IC cylinder lock manufacturers are Schlage, Best, and Yale.
Euro Profile Cylinder Lock
The Euro-profile cylinder is used where there are locking devices and for sliding glass doors that divide rooms. It is held in place by a single screw, which makes it easy to snap with a hammer. It can have a single cylinder, double cylinder, or a single cylinder with thumb turn.
A wall-mounted lock is built into the wall rather than the door, for example the fireman’s box style or Knox-Box lock used for emergency key locker and for some deposit safes.
This is a simple lock used for a wide variety of furniture such as desks, cabinets, sliding doors, and so forth. The bolt type lock is attached to a handle and long rod that locks several drawers at a time when you turn the handle. The push button type of lock operates a retractable rod which opens when you unlock with a key and push the button and automatically locks when you shut the drawer.
Vending or T-Handle Lock
It is normally found in a T-handle lock and vending machine. The T-handle actually comes off when the door is opened, and therefore replacing it is simply by inserting a different T-handle lock. The dead latch requires a key to lock and unlock, while the spring-loaded latch locks without but unlocks with a key.
Jimmy Proof Deadbolt
The Jimmy proof deadbolt is a surface-mounted lock suited for apartments and double doors. It is mounted on the inside of the door and has a rim cylinder passing through a hole bored straight through the door. The deadbolt interlocks with the jamb bracket. It is simple to install because you only need to fasten it with screws after drilling through the door and jamb. You can replace the rim cylinder and leave the lock intact.
Rim Latch Lock
The rim latch lock is a surface-mounted latch with an interior thumb turn and an external surface rim cylinder that locks automatically. It is a medium security lock that is often paired with another lock type and is popular with apartments.
Key-In-Knob (KIK) Cylinder
A key-in-knob cylinder is the main lock mechanism found in most knobs, levers, and cheaper deadbolts for both commercial and residential applications. The KIK is inserted in the lock and held with a strong screw. The tailpiece can be floating, where the cylinder rotates before engaging the lock mechanism, or fixed, where the tailpiece rotates simultaneously with the cylinder. There is no standard for the KIK cylinder and so you have to try and err when replacing it. Some manufacturers copy the more popular styles.
There are other less common locks for deposit boxes, fridges, switch boxes, telephone headset, and so forth.
Access Control Systems
The access control system allows restricted entry into rooms. There are five basic systems, according to lockssafesalarms.com. The stand-alone lock is designed to restrict entry through a door. It is battery powered and can be unlocked by a proximity card, keypad, or keypad and key combination. A proximity reader is a credit-card type of key that can be activated and deactivated to control the user’s access. A key switch is a program that allows monitoring of door users who still have to use a key to open the door. The keypad is an electronic lock that is activated by typing in a correct code. The biometric system uses unique body features such as the fingerprint, palm print, or eye pattern to identify the user and allow them in.
Electronic (Keyless) Lock
The electronic lock is operated by a current from a battery, house security wiring, or even a portable device such as the mobile phone. It is safe from picking although it can be hacked. It is activated by keying in a code or a using a code and key. It is linked to the alarm which will disable the key and set off if too many attempts are made to key in the wrong code.
Quick Cost of Locksmith Services
As an example of expected pricing, High Tech Locks of Chicago has a team of licensed, insured, and bonded locksmiths who can install, repair, or change your residential lock at the following rates;
|TYPE OF SERVICE||RATE
|Car key duplicate||$25
|Car key extraction||$30
|New lock installation||$60
|File cabinet change||$60
|Transponder key programming||$60
DIY Solutions to Common Lock Malfunction
The causes of a lock failure include;
This is caused by grime and dirt. Use a pin and wet cotton swab to clean out the dirt, followed by a silicon or graphite spray. Reinsert the key and jiggle it to distribute the lubricant.
Ice may form in the keyhole during winter. Heat the key in hot water or on a hot radiator head and then insert it in the keyhole to thaw the ice.
Poor installation of the weather stripping will cause the lock to misalign. Change the weather stripping rather than the lock position.
If the bolt misses the strike plate opening then you can file down the strike place if the misalignment is minor, or deepen the mortise if it is too shallow, or unscrew and realign the strike plate if the misalignment is too big.
Lock Bolt Does Not Operate When Key is Turned
This is caused by worn out mechanism, especially of the cylinder. Replace the cylinder or whatever other missing part. It is best to replace the entire lock as it is aged or rusty. Besides, it takes less time to fix than to fiddle with the mechanism.
Advantages of Keyless Door Locks
- You do not need a key for any user. They just need to have a passcode
- You do not need to have a spare key that many intruders search for n the compound
- You decide who to allow entry in the house without providing them with a separate key
- You can monitor the users of the door by looking at the key log.
- You can link the system to the house security and alarm system
Disadvantages of a Keyless System
- It can be a nuisance when somebody triggers the alarm by keying in the wrong code too many times
- It can be hacked
- If you forget the passcode then you will be locked out
- If the system is jammed maliciously it will malfunction
- If there is a power failure then the system will not work keeping the door either permanently locked or permanently
- open. A battery backup will help solve this problem
Replaceable Door Lock Parts
A lock secures the entry from unwarranted users. The lock is operated by turning a serrated key which lifts the pins that allow the cylinder to turn. If the wrong key is used it will not lift all the pins, and therefore not turn the cylinder. A lock is made of several parts that are housed in a shell or casing. If you wish to replace the cylinder, key, or the aesthetic outer parts, you can get a spare for that part.
The lock cylinder is the heart of the lock which causes the door to lock and unlock. It contains pins in a pattern of the keys, which jam when the pattern is wrong. Rekeying rearranges the cylinder’s pins. A cylinder cost about $8.
Tubular Pin Tumbler Lock
This is a type of lock which was invented by ACE, and is also variously called circle pin tumbler lock, radial lock, or Ace, in which the internal pins are arranged in a circular formation while the key is cylindrical or tubular in shape. The material used for the tumbler is a strong metal such as brass, zinc, or their alloys while the elongated tongue is made of stainless steel. The pin tumbler is spring-loaded to hold down the driver pins which the key lifts when turned.
The latch is the extension arm from the door frame to the strike plate.
The strike plate is the attachment to the lock that is fixed to the jamb with a pair of screws and into which the latch enters. The strike plate opening can take a square, round, or flat shape. The latch is sold as part of the lockset.
The thumb turn or turnkey is the curved knob installed with a back plate and spindle, and that operates the deadbolt of a mortice lock. It is made of aesthetic metals like brass, steel, or aluminum.
Mortice Door Knob
A mortise lock is one that requires a shallow pit called mortise to be hived into the wooden door to fit the lock. The mortise is a on the wooden door panel or furniture where a lock is fitted. A 2 1/8” diameter cylinder or core hole is bored through the mortise. The mortice doorknob is a functional and aesthetic part of the lock system, made of and finished with a hard material such as steel, brass, glass, china, fiberglass, and vinyl, and connected to the latch and lock mechanism using a spindle. The backset or distance from the center point of the bore to the edge of the door, is used to determine the size of lock you need, usually 2 1/8”, 2 3/8” and 2 ¾” long.
The latch bolt is a spring-loaded bolt with a wedge that allows it to shut by sliding into a strike plate, and to open by twisting or pulling back a knob or lever. It is a common method of locking the door from inside when the occupants are present.
The key is used to open the lock when you turn it. It is serrated with a pattern matching the cylinder pin settings.
The locksmith may make a skeleton or passkey, which is a key that has been filed down on the serrations to enable it to open several locks of similar design. It is called “skeleton” because it has been reduced to its very basic and functional size.
The master key can open several locks of similar make and model. You need to also rekey the locks in order to match their pins or master wafers in between the key pin and driver. It is useful if you have multilevel security, for example in an apartment block the landlord may keep a master key for emergency use, but each tenant will only have a key that opens their apartment. In a big house you may not want to have a whole bunch of keys, one for each room. A keyless system is by design a master key because it is programed to give access to selected rooms. Any traditional lock that uses a master key is easier to pick therefore you would prefer to have a unique lock and keep an extra key with your landlord.
Transponder Key vs. Remote Key
The car transponder and remote keys are different. The transponder enables the ignition to start by sending a special signal to the onboard computer and disabling hotwiring. The remote key on fobs opens the car’s doors remotely and is linked to the car security alarm. Transponders are routinely installed by the manufacturer (confirm if your car key has a plastic coating on it, it is a transponder cover). When making a copy of your car key ensure that the locksmith has reprogrammed the transponder using his diagnostic computer that detects the correct signal sequence and programs it in the transponder. Therefore, before you call the car locksmith make sure they have the tool since not all locksmiths have it.
When You Are Locked Out
Stay calm and figure out if you can call someone with your spare key – may be a family member, landlord, or neighbor, and if there is none, call for a known locksmith. If you have no locksmith in mind, call an emergency hotline to direct you to a certified and registered local locksmith.
Keep a spare key with a trusted friend, good neighbor, a family member or relative, or sometimes, the landlord. Keep the contacts of a couple of local locksmith in your phone and be sure to have at one who is available 24/7. Inform the landlord when experience a lockout. This will ensure you sort out any potential conflict on the condition of the door in case it has to be drilled. Check if your renter’s insurance policy covers locksmith services as well as compensation for damage to property. Figure out if there is a less damaging or less costly way to enter the house, for example through the window, a side door, or any other accessible means. You will incur less cost repairing a small window or panel. The best thing to do is call for a locksmith. Most locksmiths in the locality will appear within 10 to 20 minutes and take just 5 to 10 minutes to complete this indispensable service. Needless to say, the ideal locksmith operates within the locality.
According to FindLocalLocksmith.com, a car lockout is frustrating as may happen in a desolate area, or when you are rushing somewhere. You need to stay calm as you figure out a solution. You should store a spare key in a magnetic case which is waterproofed, rustproofed, and has a strong magnetism, concealed in an obscure place underneath the vehicle.
The magnetic case costs just $4 to $10. You can also keep a spare key with a reachable and trusted friend or relative. The best option is to adopt a keyless solution, or locks that are Bluetooth-activated. A keypad on the door handle is the surest way to ensure you are never locked out, but it also lends itself to tampering by a car burglar. In desperate times, you may have to just break in to retrieve the key.
A straightened coat hanger can be used deftly to either pick the keys or unhook the door. Alternatively, you can purchase a thin metal rod called Slim Jim for just $10 to $20, slide it between door and the window’s rubber seal, and manipulate the locking mechanism. You may decide to call 911 to help out, especially if the weather is bad or you have young children locked in. A car lockout is made more difficult by the door jam and alarm systems that sound an alarm when you attempt to manipulate the locks or the windows.
If you are unable to sort the problem, it is time to fetch the car locksmith’s contacts from your phonebook, internet, car dealer, or roadside assistant. Your insurance contract spells out the terms for a lockout service. Your car dealer often doubles in locksmith services and may have ready spare keys.
When you call for a locksmith you should be specific about the nature of lockout, for example a car lockout or residential. Some locksmiths are specific about their type of service. You should also discuss the details of all costs beforehand in order to avoid being overcharged. Car locksmiths tend to be more expensive that house locksmiths. After your lockout problem is sorted, consider measures to avoid a repeat of the occurrence. Consider adopting a keyless solution or where to keep a spare key that you can retrieve any time you have to do so. If you have experienced a burglary then consider changing the lock type. If you get a new remote controlled key, have it programmed by the locksmith on site.
Car Alarm Problems
The car alarm is part of the car security system and it is intricately linked with the car lock system. When there is a problem with the alarm, the cause is often traced to the lock and ignition systems. The alarm system may set off the alarm whenever you approach the car, not respond to the car transponder, lock down the ignition from turning on, and refuse to unlock or open the door when you try to. There are many reasons for the alarm to fail. You need the professional locksmith’s help. The failure may be as a result of;
A faulty installation or a malfunctioned device, which requires replacement or reinstallation.
Faulty wiring, for example a loose wire connection or a short circuit may cause the device to function improperly. Slamming the door and stressing its lock too often is a leading cause of faulty wiring. The problem here is not so much about fixing the fault as trying to identify it.
The transponder’s radio wave may have been reprogramed and gone out of sequence. It has to be re-synched to the alarm system’s radio wave.
The transponder chip may stop functioning as a result of abuse or wear and tear. You need a new and properly reprogramed transponder key microchip, which a skilled locksmith can provide.
If the ignition cylinder mechanism becomes faulty, it may affect the security alarm functionality. You need to clean the cylinder regularly, have it serviced, or replace it altogether.
The remote battery may be dead. You should replace the battery regularly, say annually. If a weak battery is used too long, it will affect the chip, leading to a more expensive replacement.
It is frustrating to call a car locksmith at night and not get the help you need. When you call the answering machine picks up the call, or you call the smith and he takes long to arrive. A google search leads you to another answering machine that directs you to their workshop – and yet it is the car that is not moving. You call another service and a guy with an Asian access or a southern accent answers when you are in need of a Portland locksmith.
Finally a company with a generic name answers your call and offers help, but the person who turns up is crude, inexperienced, a con, or simply not a professional. You can avoid such inconveniences by simply having a contact in your phone all the time. You should get a locksmith who is nearby and knows your neighborhood well, therefore will not be lost trying to reach you. He should be friendly and empathetic. He should be fully equipped with state of the art equipment for any service requirements. And he should know his stuff like the back of his mind. Still they should not charge you an arm and a leg for their assistance.
To Install or Repair a Lock
If you have experienced a burglary, or lost your keys, or moved into a new house, then you should consider whether you want to change the lock altogether or take a cheaper alternative. Replacement costs between $30 and $100, but a rekeying costs $5 to $25 per lock. In rekeying the pins in the cylinder are re-arranged to a different combination. You will expect to pay for the service call as well, which is between $20 and $50.
Reasons to Change a Functioning Residential Lock
247chicagolocksmiths.com advises that you need to change your lock under the following circumstances. When you move into a new home you are not sure if the lock system had been compromised, so you should change it.
- After a break-in you need to reinforce your security by changing to a more resilient lock type and perhaps adding more locks to the door.
- If the door lock is misaligned then you need to change it.
- After an acrimonious breakup with your partner or friend you need to change the lock.
- If an employee leaves the company on a bad footing or loses a key then you need to overhaul the lock system.
- If you have used the same lock for years, it is time to change just in case it has been breached or it might malfunction any time because of wear and tear.
- You may want to change the lock to fit in with the aesthetics of the house. You may also want to go high tech on the locking system or link to a surveillance and alarm system.
Installing a Keyless Lock for the House
If you habitually lose your keys or lock them in, then you know the hassle and an unexpected expense it causes to rectify. Consider a keyless lock, for example a biometric key, a Bluetooth-controlled lock, and a password-controlled electronic lock. It is however not immune to hi-tech hacking and immobilization. Such a system costs between $100 and $500.
The modern lock has gone hi-tech with keyless solutions. Instead of a key, one can have an access swipe card which identifies the holder and limits access to certain rooms. The house access card can be reprogrammed for each member of the household. A major drawback is that the card can be used by anyone holding it – a disaster if it is in the wrong hands.
The smart phone has also been incorporated in the smart lock technology where you give commands to a house-based control center through your phone, either by texting or via Bluetooth. The phone can also be used with the Internet to monitor, record, set the alarm off, and so forth, from wherever you are. You no longer have to travel home in order to open the door for mum Christine. You just send a txt command from your office. You also switch to remote camera in order to monitor movements at home which you are away. A touchscreen or a keypad can be installed to open the door when the correct code is input. It can be programmed to give a maximum number of tries before locking out for an extended period of time.
The biometric system has also been introduced and it works by identifying the fingerprints, facial features, or the iris pattern. The key FOB or proximity lock is activated as soon as you approach the entryway or touch the keypad. You can attach a security camera and screen that record the innings and outings at home. Tech locks require a tech-locksmith to install and maintain them.
Choosing the Best Residential Locks
With an increase in house burglary, it is necessary to secure the home with reliable locks. An alarm system, CCTV cameras, and security lights can deter criminals, but it takes a good lock to stop them on their tracks. Talk to a professional locksmith for advice.
The deadbolt, although easier to bump, is highly recommended because it is more secure than a spring-loaded lock. There are many versions to choose from including single cylinder, double cylinder, beveled, and grade 1 deadbolts. The single cylinder deadbolt is cheap but also the most insecure. It is suitable for solid panel doors with no side lite or nearby windows. The double cylinder deadbolt is more secure because you need to use a key from either side of the door, especially one that has a glass panel that can be easily broken by an intruder. A grade 1 deadbolt designation on a deadlock means that the lock has passed the American National Standards Institute or ANSI threshold for durability and security. A beveled deadbolt has a reinforced steel plate on the door jamb and the lock that is hard to cut through.
DIY in a Locksmith Job
If you are thinking of replacing a lock yourself, consider the cost of tools and the hardware as well as your time. Changing a lock is not a particularly complex task, but it requires years of experience and skill to master and the right tools for the job.
Problem with DIY Locksmith
As a DIY you can inadvertently cause more damage to the door and jamb, car door and trunk, mail box, and so forth trying to fix it. You can miscalculate the length of the backset, the bore hole may not be perpendicular to the door surface, the strike plate may be offline to the lock, and the mortice may be too large, irregular, or too deep. A do-it-yourselfer may cause damage that will cost more to repair the original and the new problems, and you will still end up hiring the locksmith for the project gone terribly wrong.
Drilling a Hole in the Metal Door
Typically locks re installed at a height of between 34” and 48” from the ground, normally the lower height is to cater for persons with disability. There are firm rules for the appropriate height of a security door. Drilling through the metal or wooden door is a simple DIY task that should take less than 10 minutes to complete. Measure and mark the centerline of the backset. Use a center punch and hammer to make a dimple for the drill bit, and then drill by pressing firmly on the dimple.
Installing a Double Bore Door
The double bore is normally found on the exterior door with a deadbolt and lockset. The edge of the door is also mortised for the latch. Measure the backset as you did with the main lock at 4” to 6” above the current lockset.
Installing a New or Replacement lock
If replacing the existing lock with a similar one you will simply unscrew and remove the old lock and place and screw a new lock. If installing a new lock, you have to dry install the whole set, mark the screw hole points with a s or drill bit. Remove the lockset and drill the screw holes and then install the lockset as with replacement.
Extracting a Broken Key
You can break the key if the key is the wrong one, turned too hard in the wrong direction, turned in the incorrect position, or the lock is rusty. You can reduce the risk of breaking the key by simple maintenance such as lubricating the lock from time to time to prevent rusting and to operate it smoothly. Keep the original key safely and operate with the duplicate key.
Change the old lock and key when there is significant mechanical resistance despite lubrication.
Before you DIY, consider the time it will take you to do the task, the damage you are likely to add in the process, and the extra cost of calling the expert. If the key breaks in the hole, try lubrication, and then insert a thin but strong pin or blade, eyebrow tweezers, nail clippers, or dental pick in the key shaft groove. Twist the blade slightly and firmly to get a grip and wiggle out the broken shaft. Keep it for the locksmith to use in duplicating the key. Often you should just call the locksmith to extract the key.
Hiring a Locksmith
To avoid damaging your home or car trying to DIY on the lock, consider hiring a locksmith who has the right tools, knowledge and expertise to sort the lock problem with minimal damage. The U.S. has roughly 18,000 locksmiths according to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, with an average annual salary of $40,000, which is below most professions. It is not considered an apex career, but it is a necessary job in society. Many people tend to undervalue the work of a locksmith simply because the task lasts just a short time, but the locksmith does not just sit back waiting for a phone call. He has to master and be updated about more than 35,000 types of locks in the U.S. market and a growing number of electronic locks to keep pace with. An apprentice takes at least three years to master the skill of picking locks. A scammer is quick to result to the drill, inflate the cost, and occasion more expenses on replacements. Some will even go away with the keys only to demand payment for returning them. Remember, too, that a deal that sounds too good is too good. Be sure to confirm from the locksmith before hiring that;
- They are legal, certified, registered, and insured. They should have a proper business name.
- You run a background check on the internet and confirm their address.
- They give you a full estimated cost after you have described the exact problem and desired outcome or solution. The estimate should include service call, mileage fee, labor, repairs, replacements, and any supplemental charges. Let the locksmith bring along a copy of the estimates.
Once the smith arrives, confirm the identification and estimates. Check the insurance. Let the locksmith see your identification to proof your ownership of the property or car.
Do not assent to drilling because it will cause much damage and extra costs, instead find another locksmith who has the right skill and tools to pick the lock. Get a written invoice before you settle the payment. Save the locksmiths number if you are satisfied with their service. In the event that you run into an altercation with the smith, try and resolve it with the locksmith company first before lodging a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
Searching the Internet
There are websites offering locksmith services near you. Trust only the sites that are approved by the Association of Locksmiths of America or ALOA and FTC.gov. Ignore the “Ad” section and look for the real search results. Do a Google Streetview to determine if there are many locksmiths in the block next to a gas station – a sure indicator of phony business going on. A few states require that a locksmith be registered, therefore you can search for their registration status online. For better guarantee, check out if the locksmith is a member of the Associated Locksmiths of America or ALOA.
Finally, check if the website they advertise is real and if it has credible content. This will help you detect a fake locksmith. When it is not an emergency, visit the locksmith’s shop or showroom because a physical address suggests legitimacy.
Trust and Reliability
The first thing about a locksmith is trust and reliability. You don’t want that quizzing feeling that the locksmith could come back in your absence and pick your lock. Neither do you want to call a locksmith and have to wait for him till your nerves are frayed – an hour later, or when he arrives to display a poor handle on the job and without the proper tools of trade. It is imperative that you get a local locksmith’s contacts before you ever have a problem with the locks. Remember also that a house burglar is also a locksmith in his own rights, and therefore be careful who you are contacting for the service.
While you do not require the locksmith’s services frequently, you should still get the right person for the job when need arises. Some people underrate the value of the locksmith’s job out of ignorance. Check out if they are professionally trained and certified, licensed, insured, and bonded. The locksmith has to have undergone some training as an apprentice or studied the profession in a college. Ideally the person should be certified by the locksmith body. A locksmith who is edgy about their prices or is too cheap is a risky bet.
If he is aggressive or suddenly inflates the price then you should consider repeating the job with a different locksmith after he is done for your peace of mind. Look up the locksmith’s reputation in the BBB website, which publishes customer reviews and complaints. Ask for recommendations from a friend, roadside assistant, or an insurance company. A company that does not identify itself on phone but uses a generalized name like “locksmith services” the do not hire them. If a locksmith sounds intimidating on phone and gives high quotes, then dial the next locksmith.
You need an experienced person who can open and replace a wide variety of locks. For example, Nationwide Locksmiths and 24/7 Local Locksmiths operate nationally but with local contacts in states, counties, cities and far flung towns. They have an all-inclusive solution for all door lock needs such as residential, commercial, safe, car, garage, gate, and mail box.
A foolproof lock is essential, but it becomes a tricky trap when you lock yourself out. Therefore, even before you experience a lock problem, identify residential and car locksmiths and keep their contacts. Do not procrastinate. Seek a local locksmith to replace your locks when you move into a new city or neighborhood. Some day you will surely lock yourself out and because it is not a planned event, it is an emergency. By identifying the locksmith in advance, you have time to vet them for quality of service, pricing and availability. According to FindLocalLocksmith.com, it is best to work with the local locksmiths’ organization, who can give you the best information you need (it is in their interests to be open and forthcoming with information).
You can still search the local newspaper listing, the Internet, or get recommendations from neighbors. You want to know about the available services, areas and level of expertise of the smith, their charges, contacts, and hours of work. You want to know if the smith is certified and licensed, especially because of insurance implications. You want to know if they have recently furthered their training or education in lock and general security technologies, therefore can advise you on how best to protect yourself with locks. You especially want a locksmith who can install a keyless system and service it when the need arises. It is a plus if they can install security alarm and surveillance systems. You must find out covertly if the locksmith quickly results to drilling instead of picking the lock because only the most complex locks cannot be picked and need drilling.
While the price should not be the overriding factor, it should stay within reasonable limits. Compare the prices from three or so providers and determine the going rate before you select or negotiate with the locksmith. If the service call price is too low, probably the guy is a quack or will grossly overcharge on the other services. A simple lockout call and opening should cost between $75 and $125 in total. According to Improvenet.com, the average cost of hiring a locksmith is $156, with a range of between $50 and $350. Other estimated averages are between $140 and $200. The overall cost even from one locksmith doing a similar task will vary according to state, time, weather, and distance.
Locks are a security measure to the house, car or any other property. An experienced locksmith can unlock the door in just a few minutes, guarantee the lock or key will work properly, and of course not demand payment if he fails to do the job. The professional has the right tools for the job and will charge you $20 to $50 for the service call depending on distance, $20 to $50 for unlocking the door, and $20 to $50 to rekey or duplicate the key.
Replacing the cylinder or strike plates will cost $30, and the mailbox or cabinet lock system will be replaced at a cost of $100. If your service call is at night, on weekends, or during holiday, then you should expect to pay an extra 50 percent above the normal rates. All in all, according to HomeAdvicsor.com, most people reported paying a total of $160 when they called a locksmith. FindLocalLocksmith.com suggests the following as a guide to fair price for locksmith services, based on national averages.
|TYPE OF SERVICE||COST
|Service call ||$19
|Transponder key replacement||$119
|File cabinet lockout||$35
|Car key extraction||$75
|Car key replacement||$90
|New lock installation||$35
Naturally, these costs vary with the lock type and from state to state. Most experienced locksmiths can unlock any door without damaging the locks, and drilling results in extra cost of repairing or replacing the door, lock, and strike plate. Locksmiths may charge an additional fee for services out of hours, in bad weather, and in remote locations. You may also have to pay an additional mileage fee. Some insurance companies and roadside assistance plans offer free or low cost locksmith services if you choose from a list of participating providers. Before hiring a locksmith on your own, you might first make a call to your insurer to check on your benefits.
Residential Emergency Locksmith Services
Even before you have problems with your security and locks, consult a professional locksmith to come over to your residence to assess your security needs and advise on the best type of or enhancements to your locks. Keep their contacts in case of an emergency. The services cost between $50 and $600 depending on how many of the services you need and the type of the lock you have, but you should ordinarily pay less than $150 in total. Uninstalling an old lock and installing a new one costs between $40 and $100, and the cost of a service call. The following is a list of some of the services offered by a professional locksmith.
- House lock picking
- Extracting a broken key from the keyhole
- Re-keying or making a spare key
- Onsight key cutting
- Window lock repair
- Installing a master lock cylinder
- Garage gate lock or automatic lock installation and repair
Whether you are changing the locks for your new home to improve security, repairing a malfunctioning lock, have locked yourself out, or broken the mailbox key, you need a professional locksmith to solve your problem, but you need to first know the cost.
Roadside Emergency Locksmith Services
A roadside locksmith should be equipped to deal with all car lock and security emergencies on the spot, including:
- Trunk and door opening
- Extracting a broken key from the lock or ignition
- Key copying even without the original
- Fixing a broken or malfunctioning car lock
- Repairing the auto-lock function
- Replace or reprogram the transponder key
- Replace or reprogram the remote key
- Diagnosing and repairing ignition switch failure using a computerized toolkit
- Disabling and repairing a malfunctioning car alarm system
As stated by 247chicagolocksmiths.com and 24/7 Nationwide Locksmiths, if you are on the highway the car locksmith should reach you quickly. When calling, specify that you need a car locksmith, and that he must be able to handle any and all car lock and key emergencies onsite, including getting a replacement key from either their stock of keys or cutting one with their carry-along tools. He may also have facilities for reprograming a transponder for your car. Lock picking can be done using the Slim Jim tool or a lock pick pin. The locksmith can clean the keyhole of particles, grime, and dust may accumulate and cause it to jam. He can also repair the ignition system that has been damaged by a lock fault. And he can also do rekeying onsite by changing the cylinder or pin settings. A good car locksmith service is one that is available 24/7 or at least late hours and weekends since we are behind the wheel day and night, and all days.
A trunk lockout may happen when you are distracted by a phone call or are in a hurry. If the trunk can be accessed from the backseat and you have jimmy open the car door, then remove the seat and reach for the lock, lock cable, or override the electric trunk wire by connecting directly to the battery. Fetch your spare key if it is within reach. Do not break the trunk lock is ill-advised because it results in far more damage to the car so it is better to call the locksmith near you right away. For best results, albeit with a dent on your wallet, is to call the locksmith.
Cost of Car Locksmith Service
HomeImprovent.com advises that you should have a locksmith’s telephone contact. The locksmith charges at various rates depending on several factors. He will charge according to the services required for example a extracting a broken key shaft, or making a copy key. The locksmith will also charge for mileage. Some locks are harder to pick than others, therefore he will charge you according to the type of lock. A nighttime, weekend, and winter “house call” costs between 50 percent and 100 percent more, or $50 to $250.
A typical charge for unlocking a car door is between $40 and $200. When you lose your car keys and the FOB then a replacement key will cost you about $200 for ordinary cars. A top end car key, such as a BMW will cost about $500, and a SUV, such as Lexus, will cost about $350 to replace and reprogram the key. To copy a standard key will cost $1 to $4 to copy a key, and a special key will cost $3 to $20. To rekey the door will attract between $40 and $100, and $5 to $25 per lock cylinder. Rekeying rearranges the pin settings of your lock cylinder for use by a different key. It is cheaper than replacing the entire lock.
Cost of Car Lockout Emergency Services
It happens to most drivers. Forgetting the key in the ignition or in the trunk and locking the door. You need a locksmith with the right tools to open the door for you, and it will cost you anywhere between $30 and $120 with another $20 to $40 service call charges on top. The standard car service call is $35 plus mileage, key-extraction is $65, and ignition replacement is $95. Replacement of the lock costs between $25 and $130, depending on the car model and type of lock. Electronic or transponder chipped car keys may cost $50 to $200.
Ethical Issue with Locksmiths
When shopping for a locksmith, the Federal Trade Commission advises that a locksmith claiming to be local but operates with an 800 phone number is a cheat. Insist on seeing the locksmith’s credentials before they start work ad before you pay them. When on call inquire if the locksmith is trained and experienced, and what methods they use to unlock. If they mention drilling, get on to the next locksmith. If you are locked out of your car call your roadside assistance company. Before you call a locksmith, consider if it might be easier and cheaper to just kick your way in through the window or back door of the house.
Any real professional would have knowledge of a wide range of locks. Generally a professional locksmith does not use a drill, therefore the drilling locksmith is likely a crook or a rookie. You should never agree to a car door drilling; all car doors can be picked and it is much cheaper to replace a broken car window. Get a full quotation before hiring the locksmith. Many smiths will just mention the service call because that is a standard fee. They do not know what other issues will be encountered in the cause of carrying out the job. For example a caller got a quote of $55 (service call), but when the smith arrived he charged $86 for break in by drilling, $15 to remove the lock, $6 for a new lock, and $16 to install the new lock.
Although the amount was “fair”, she had not anticipated all the related issued and associated costs. If a locksmith does not give his prices upfront when you call or he insists on seeing the lock job first then he is likely a crook. If you cannot get a definite quote on phone then move on to the next service provider. A professional working alone will charge between $20 and $50 for the service call depending on the time and circumstances. They will charge between $10 and $40 to pick the lock, and will most likely not charge at all if they have to drill (Kwick-picks.com). In all fairness, a total fee of $100 sounds reasonable when you consider the time and distance of travel, the cost of being in business (license, tools, and telephone), and of cause a living wage.
Even the professional service providers do have bad apples among them. For example a distressed house owner wanted a broken key removed and re-keyed. A well-known company charged $179, but the smart home owner called a different company that did the job for $99 inclusive of service call. Some users have had experiences with their locks, according to cost.homehelper.com. For example, an employee losing an office key having to replace the door security lock and the entire set of keys for that office. A person presses the automatic HI-Security door lock behind her and locks herself out; a mistake that cost her $410 to fix with the locksmith company that charged for dispatch, drilling, and replacing the lock. A car lockout was to cost a driver $19 for the service call and $35 for the unlocking, but when the locksmith came he claimed it was a difficult job and charged $165, even though it still took him just 30 seconds to accomplish.
According to the National Crime Prevention Council or NCPC, two thirds of burglaries do not show signs of forced entry. The majority of the entries are by lock picking and bumping. The old type cylinder locks are vulnerable to bumping armed with just a screw driver and a small hammer for tapping (bumping). A key-bumping set costs just $15.
Add the security level of the home by installing a chain latch. BiLock Company has programmable locks that are bump-resistant. Abloy have high-security deadbolts that take time to manipulate and therefore discourage an intruder.
Deterring House Burglars
- A pet dog like the Great Dane can easily be “compromised” or tamed by a friendly intruder. Get a guard dog or a barking dog that will attract attention and distract the burglar.
- Do not make the house appear deserted, leave some common devices switched on and off by a timing device or by a remote mobile phone, at the right times
- Do not break from your daily routine since a burglar will have studied your habits before striking and know that you are absent. Get a neighbor to collect your daily mail for you when you are absent.
- Do not keep your lights on all day and night as this is a giveaway that you are not in. Instead, install a timer to switch the lights on and off at designated hours. This gives the impression of being in and also save you a hefty utility bill.
- Fake security and alarm signs only tell the intruder to be more careful when breaching your property. However, fake CCTV cameras alongside real ones can deter the would-be burglar.
- Do not lock up all your valuables in one safe because if the safe is successfully picked or stolen you will lose everything. Get a built-in, bolted down safe, and distribute your valuables in secret places throughout the house. The burglar has no time to rummage through the entire house.
- Bushy fences offer cover for intruders and diminish the view of the CCTV and neighbors, therefore keep the fences trimmed, especially in front of the doors and windows.
- Install CCTV and alarm to monitor the front entrance and the compound and sound the alarm when an intruder enters. If possible link your CCTV system to your mobile device so that you can get live feeds of activities at your home.
- Get the locksmith to add extra deadbolts with at least one inch deep throw that make it harder to pick the lock with crude tools.
- Install a wide-angle peephole, door chain latch, and an intercom. These measures ensure you know who is at the door before opening it. Install locks from specialized stores with trusted brands, and not the mass-produced locks found at some general stores.
Life Hacks with Locks
Replace the locks of your new home or after a burglary. Get a spare key by re-keying and store it in a secret and secure outdoor location within your property or with a trusted friend. Think like a burglar – do not hide the key under the mat, at the foot of the mailbox post, underneath the garbage can or flower pot, or such other location.
If you have already locked yourself out, find out if you can DIY before calling a locksmith, for example by gaining entry through the back door or breaking through a $30-window. Try wiggling a credit card through the gap between the door and the frame, or give a quick and firm push on the door as you turn the door knob, but be careful not to warp the lock system. To retrieve the keys from the ignition, insert a straightened coat hanger with a hook at the end in the gap between the window and top of the door, and push it to reach the key in the ignition or on the seat.
Car Safety Tips
Authorizedlocksmiths.com notes that three quarters of car thefts involve the use of a key. The car has locks on the trunk, door, steering wheel, and gearstick. As a car user, you need to be aware that intruders break into your car to steal valuables like laptops, wallets, jewelry, and briefcases.
- Hide valuables in the car before leaving home and not at destination because car burglars operating around public parking lots would easily notice when you are storing the valuables.
- Check your valuables again when you enter the car at the parking lot and note any suspicious activities.
- The trunk or a concealed compartment are best for storage because they are less tempting to the potential burglar.
- Older car models do not have a quick release to open the door from underneath.
- Fit a car tracker and alarm systems in the car to draw attention and trace the location of your car in the event it is stolen.
- Whenever possible park your car in the most visible spot in the lot with the trunk facing the open space that is seen by a CCTV and passersby. Also park across the street from a busy store or near the front entrance where CCTV surveillance can clearly spot an intruder.
- Parking garages and the driveway are less prone to intrusion, and self-parking avoids the snooping eyes of the
- parking boys.
When all is said and done, a good locking system and immobilizer for the ignition, gearstick, door, trunk, and wheels, will help keep your car safe.
While waiting for the locksmith in a remote location or in the dark, you should be cautious and stay safe.
- Inform a friend or relative on the cell phone on your predicament.
- Keep your valuables and phone close to you.
- Avoid contact with passersby offering to help, and make the appearance of someone who knows what they are doing.
Lock Manufacturers Worldwide
These are some of the best-known lock manufacturers globally.
|August Bremicker Sohne KG||Germany||Padlocks and security-related products
|Kwikset Locks||America||Titanium strengthened tubular lock
Well-known for technological renovation
|ASSA Abloy||Sweden||High-end locks that are pick and bump proof
Acquired Mul-T-Lock, Fichet-Bauche, and Medeco
|Mul-T-Lock||Israel||Medium and high-security systems, locks, cylinders, padlocks, multipoint locking, and keyless locks
|Chubb Locks||Britain||Old lock maker of high-security systems and locks for commercial, safes, mortise, and cylinder locks
|Master lock||America||Started as a mobile locksmith before branching into military-grade locks and luxurious locks
|Kaba Group||Switzerland||Global security locksmith of KABA X electronic locks, lock cylinders, and access doors.
|Medeco Company||America||Unique pin tumbler locking mechanism that resists bumping and picking.
Trusted by banks, airplanes, and military
|Yale||America||inventor of the pin tumbler and combination locks
Makes low- to medium-security locks and cylinders.
|Schlage||America||Makes low, medium, and keyless locks
|Best Lock Company||America||access control locks
|CISA||Italy||inventors of the electric lock and leaders in access control door locks
|Deitz Lock Company||America||high-end locks and hardware
|Sealock Security System||America||/
|Sergeant and Greenleaf||America||/
|Wilson Bohannan Company||America||/