Winter's Frozen Locks Have Arrived

Chicago's under our first Winter Weather Advisory of the year.  Freezing rain.  Falling temperatures. These conditions are perfect for frozen locks.

The simplest solution is always prevention.  Lubricate your outside locks before they freeze.  (Use WD-40, Tri-Flo or another spray recommended for lock lubrication)

If your lock is already frozen, you're not out of luck.

  • You can try a lock de-icer that you can pick up at most locksmith or hardware stores.
  • If that doesn't work, you'll need to warm the lock with a hair dryer.  (Never use a torch, flames, or anything with high heat!  This will damage the lock!)  Make sure to lubricate your locks after you use a de-icer or your locks could be damaged.
  • Or you can call a locksmith. However, if it is a good freeze there may be a waiting line.

You can find more details for preventing your locks from freezing in our original article "Chicago Winter and Frozen Locks".

Before and After: Bringing Basement Door up to Code

This part of our "Before and After" series, showcasing the installations done by our locksmiths.

Problem: Basement wooden doors of a multi-unit building were being forced open. The old locks, nightlatches, gave very little protection against prying or kicking attacks. As a temporary solution, the customer had added hasps and padlocks to the doors. However, Life Safety Fire Codes prohibit the use of hasps and padlocks on any doors in multi-unit buildings.

Our customer wanted a strong but economical solution to increase security on these doors. The new locks needed to work with their existing front door key. Finally, the locks needed to automatically latch when the door closed.

Solution: After evaluating alternate solutions, we decided to use a slightly modified deadbolt lock. Instead of using the bolt, we used a latch made by General Lock Co. This would be installed in the same location on the door as the old lock, latch automatically when the door is closed, and fit the customer's existing front door keys. We also installed a security strike to strengthen the frame and a door wrap to strengthen the door. Finally we added a latch protector, called the Door Guardian that joins the door and frame together upon closing.

Before and After: Basement Door Break-in Repair

This part of our "Before and After" series, showcasing the installations done by our locksmiths.

Problem: Fixing a broken lock on a basement door that was forced open.

The customer did not want to replace the door.

The solution needed to cover the damage, strengthen the door, and improve security.

Solution: We used a 4" brass door wrap by Don Jo under the new lock. Door wraps are designed to both strengthen the door and cover the damage from the break in.

Then we installed a 13" latch protector to cover the damage to the door frame and the pry marks further down on the door.  This particular latch protector is called "The Door Guardian." It's designed for in-swinging doors and consists of two interlocking pieces made of heavy steel. This joins the door and frame so inserting tools to pry open the door is difficult.

Before and After: Replace Old Mortise Lock on Front Door

This part of our "Before and After" series, showcasing the installations done by our locksmiths.

Problem: Replacing broken antique mortise lock on an extra thick door.

This door is 2 1/4” thick. Standard door locks fit up to 1 3/4” thick doors. The existing lock is about 100 years old and no parts are available to repair it.

Solution: In this case the best answer is to install another mortise lock, special ordered to fit the 2 1/4” thick door.

The customer chose the Morgan style mortise lock by Emtek ( The inside and outside trim were large enough to cover all the holes and scarring from the old lock. The medium bronze finish was dark, similar to the old lock and other hardware on the door.

The special order for the thick door took two weeks to come in, but it was worth the wait. The customer was very happy to have the same type of lock and a design that complimented his front door so well.