How to Fix a Stuck Door Lock

Updated February 21, 2017

Locks keep our homes safe. There are locks for front doors, patio, and windows, all specially designed to provide protection to your house and belongings. These lucks can cause trouble when they are stuck. Luckily, there are ways to troubleshoot a stuck door lock to get it working again.

Spray some graphite spray into the lock, place the key into the lock and work the graphite into the locking cylinders. This may loosen some of the moving parts enough to get the lock moving again.

Unscrew the screws holding the lock to the door, using a screwdriver, and disassemble the lock if the key turns but the bolt is stuck. Check the lock to make sure the mechanism is in line with the bolt. Realign if necessary and replace the bolt.

Heat your key with a hair dryer or matches. Place the key in a frozen lock to melt the ice away. The lock should begin to turn once it is free from ice.

File the side of the strike plate if the bolt is stuck outside the door frame. Sometimes, all you need is just a little bit wider opening to make it work. Remove the strike plate, fill the holes with glue and wooden matchsticks, and reposition the strike plate if this doesn't work


While you can use other lubricants for your locks, the best one is spray graphite. Other lubricants can begin to dry and cake on, ruining the lock. Graphite will eventually work its way out of the lock.


Handle hot keys with gloves to avoid burning your hands.

Things You'll Need

  • Graphite spray
  • Screwdriver
  • Hair dryer or matches
  • Metal file
  • Wooden matchsticks
  • Glue
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About the Author

R.L. Cultrona is a San Diego native and a graduate of San Diego State University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in theater, television and film with a minor in communications and political science. She began writing online instructional articles in June 2009.