How Changes in Temperature Affect Locks

- Mar 01, 2019-

We usually only stop to think about the importance of locks when they’re not functioning as they should. Surprisingly, one of the most common causes of lock issues is the changing weather. As temperatures fluctuate, residential and commercial door locks may jam and not work properly.

During the Summer

As temperatures warm up in the summer, many homeowners and business owners experience jam locks. This usually affects exterior doors, as increasing temperatures can cause the door to expand slightly. As a result, locks can become difficult to turn or get stuck entirely in one position.

This effect is more common in the following situations:

For closed deadbolt locks, which are compressed in the door as the door frame swells around it.

For wooden exterior doors and door frames, because wood material is more prone to swelling and contracting in extreme temperatures.

During the Winter

In areas like Pennsylvania, lock problems often manifest themselves during the cold months of the year. When temperatures fall below freezing, the door frame tends to contract. This causes a poor fit between the lock and the door itself.

This effect is more common in the following situations:

For wooden exterior doors and/or door frames, which are affected by the rising humidity levels.

For door frames made of wood which tends to contract in colder temperatures.

You may find that it’s difficult to turn the key in a deadbolt when locking or unlocking exterior doors. For a quick fix, try pulling in on the door handle from the outside to re-center the lock within the door frame. However, this shouldn’t be considered a permanent solution, as it will likely get worse over time and eventually make it impossible to lock or unlock the door.