Deadbolts are necessary for the safety and security of your home. However, they can't provide much protection if they're not working correctly. Here are two reasons why your deadbolt lock may be malfunctioning and what you can do to fix the problem.

The Lock and Door Are Misaligned

Possibly the most common reason why a deadbolt may suddenly stop working as expected is there is an alignment problem between the door and lock. Unlike door locks that secure the latch bolt in place when engaged, a deadbolt secures the door by sliding the bolt mechanism into strike plate installed in the doorframe. The door, frame, and deadbolt must be all aligned with each other; otherwise, the bolt mechanism may hit the doorframe instead of going into the slot on the plate.

There are a couple of reasons these things may become misaligned. Over time, the set screws holding the deadbolt lock and/or strike plate in place may become loose, causing either or both to move out of alignment with each other. In this case, tightening the screws should put them back into their original positions.

Another reason for the misalignment is the door or frame may have warped over time due to the home settling or weather conditions. If pushing or lifting the door makes it easier to get the deadbolt into the strike plate, this may be the problem. Moving the strike plate to better align with the door's new position may fix the issue, as would replacing the door and/or frame.

The Lock Is Dirty

A dirty lock can also render a deadbolt unusable. If you having a hard time getting the key into the lock or the lock is hard to turn or won't turn at all, there may be dirt, dust, or debris inside preventing it from working properly.

To fix this issue, you'll need to take the lock apart and clean the interior parts. Refer to your owner's manual for instruction on how to safely take apart your particular deadbolt model. Once you have the lock dissembled, use a can of air to blow away dirt and debris that may have found its way inside the lock assembly. Afterwards, scrub the accessible parts of the lock with a toothbrush and wipe with a lint-free cloth. Lastly, oil the lock assembly and key plug with a lubricant (e.g. WD-40).

Reassemble the deadbolt and try locking the door. If it still won't work, you may need to invest in a new lock.

For more information about resolving deadbolt issues or help installing one, call a local locksmith like A Carolina Lock Smith.