Paul's Travel Pictures

How To Fix A Sticky Door Lock & Key
A pictures illustrated guide to lubricating a sticking door lock and key with graphite powder for easier operation.

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Hob-E-Lube Graphite Powder
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Dry Powder Lubricant

 
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Graphite Powder On Paper

The two locks on our door were replaced a few years ago with brand new "Defiant" brand locks purchased at The Home Depot for about $20.

They've always worked reliably and easily until a few weeks ago when the key began to get stuck inside the keyhole. It would take an unreasonable amount of force to jiggle the key in or out of the lock.

I was ready to just go buy a new set of locks when I recalled my grandfather using some graphite powder to lubricate the delicate interior workings of pocket watches.

I ordered a small tube of graphite powder lubricant for about $5 on eBay. This specific "Hob-E-Lube" product was marketed for use on Boy Scout pinewood derby cars. If you have some graphite pencils handy, you can also create your own graphite powder by crushing the solid graphite found inside the pencil.

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Deadbolt & Regular Lock
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Defiant Brand Deadbolt
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Regular Door Knob Lock
The first step is to blow out any debris, dust or moisture that might be present inside the lock. This can be done with a can of compressed air, a lens blower, or air compressor.
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Key Sticking In Lock
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Puffing Dry Lubricant
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Spraying Graphite Powder
To get the dry graphite powder lubricant into the lock requires that the tip of the "puffer" bottle be inserted into the keyhole. Then the tube should be squeezed quickly a few times to blow a stream of air mixed with graphite powder deep into the lock.


 
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Working Key In & Out
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Lubricating Lower Lock
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Graphite On Lock's Bolt
After blowing in enough graphite powder to lightly coat the lock's interior, the key needs to be repeatedly inserted and removed to spread the lubricant. If the key still hangs up or catches on rough sections, puff in some more powder. Once I had the top lock well lubricated, I did the same procedure on the bottom lock. To help the deadbolt slide into the door jamb more easily, I also put some graphite powder lubricant on the bolt and around the door jamb.
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Rubbing Powder On Bolt
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Lubricating Deadbolt Jamb
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Lower Lock Jamb Lubricated
I tested both the door locks after I finished lubricating them and was pleasantly surprised. It is now much easier to insert the key, take out the key, and lock or unlock the door. This procedure should also work just as well in a stubborn car ignition lock, padlock, car door lock, motorcycle ignition, or other locks.
 
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