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Key frozen in car lock

How Changes in Temperature Affect Locks

Category : Blog , Locks

Many times, people consider the importance of locks when they’ve already stopped functioning the way they should. Often, one of the biggest perpetrators of lock problems is changing weather. Locks of all kinds can experience significant changes as the weather cools down or warms up, which can impact your security.

Vehicle locks, deadbolts, keypads and padlocks can face locking mechanism issues throughout the year, especially when extreme weather shows up. You might have difficulty opening the lock, the locking mechanism may fail or you may break your key during the turning process.

Hot Weather Changes

During the summer months, humidity and moisture can impact doors — even small changes can have a big impact on the function of your locks.

Swelling

Businesses and homeowners often experience jams during the hotter months, often on exterior doors. For example, if you have a wood or plastic door, the material may warp or swell, which can impact the connecting lock. Swelling impacts lock alignment because the geometry of the frame and door change while the lock tries to stay in place. Deadbolts may be especially challenging to open if the door frame swells because they can get stuck in one position. These locks become compressed in these circumstances, making it difficult to move the lock at all.

Sticking

Metal door locks can also face unique challenges in the summer. As the warm weather causes any lubricant to evaporate, the lock mechanism may get stuck as metal components expand. Although adding lubrication can reduce some lock issues, you won’t easily fix the problem if expansion occurs.

Cold Weather Changes

As temperatures begin to drop, you can also face some unpleasant lock issues.

Shrinking

For wood doors, the material may start to contract rather than swell. Although this process is the reverse of swelling, the outcome is the same — changes in the door and frame cause a lock misalignment. The results of this shrinking may also make it harder for the key to catch in the lock.

Freezing

An additional problem you could face involves the freezing point of any lube you use on your locks. Although lubrication can make it easier to turn your locks, it stops being effective once it reaches the freezing point. If the lubricant freezes, or if any excess water freezes in the lock, the ice can prevent components from moving. Attempting to continue trying the lock in this state could result in structural damage or cause your key to break in the lock.

Additionally, your key may stick in the lock, or you may not be able to insert it at all if there is a lot of frozen buildup. Learning how to prevent locks from freezing is crucial for avoiding these issues.

Changes for Different Types of Locks

Many locks function in similar ways, but some can face unique challenges in different temperatures. Keep reading to discover when specific locks may be more susceptible to issues.

Car Locks

Vehicle locks can become very sensitive in the winter months. When temperatures drop to freezing and below, moisture inside the lock and mechanism can freeze. This issue can prevent you from inserting your car key or using your remote door opener.

Padlocks

You might notice your door locks sticking in the winter if any moisture enters them.

Common on garages, sheds and fences, padlocks face the biggest challenge when temperatures drop. You might notice your door locks sticking in the winter if any moisture enters them. The moisture in these locks can freeze, making them challenging or even impossible to open. Additionally, if you don’t use the space your padlock is protecting very often, it may face issues over time from a lack of preventative maintenance. For example, if you never lubricate the lock, the summer heat may cause additional problems for metal components, such as causing them to shrink or become brittle.

Keypads

As keypads and other keyless locks grow in popularity, it’s essential to understand their unique issues. Many commercial spaces use keyless locks, which can impact business operations if they stop functioning. These locks don’t face the same problems as other lock types. Instead, they face mechanical issues, push button jams and battery drain problems.

While most all-weather locks will function in any weather condition, they may face issues under extreme pressure. This type of pressure can lead to mechanical issues that may prevent the mechanism from working. Additionally, cold weather can affect keyless entry. Prolonged exposure to extremely cold temperatures can lead to shorter battery life spans. Typically, these batteries can last up to a year or longer in normal conditions, but a harsh winter can chop this timeline severely. If the battery dies and you don’t have a backup to get it running again, you might be stuck outside.

Deadbolts

When functioning normally, deadbolt lock mechanisms retract when you place and twist your keys inside. Alternatively, the mechanism extends when you lock it. As we mentioned above, you may notice difficulties in the summer months if your door warps or swells, causing a misalignment of the components that extend and retract the bolt.

Best Practices for Reducing Weather Impacts

Regardless of the type of locks you use, there are several tips you can keep in mind to ensure their longevity and your safety and convenience. Check out these best practices:

  • Consider replacing plastic or wood doors with more durable and resistant options.
  • Create and follow a routine maintenance schedule, such as adding lubrication.
  • Keep your locks as dry as possible by using overhanging or protective coverings to keep snow and moisture out and prevent door swelling in the summer.
  •  Warm your key with your hands before inserting it into a lock in the winter.
  • Hire a reliable and professional locksmith when installing new locks or addressing a lock concern.

Choose Ernie’s Lock Company for Your Lock Needs

At Ernie’s Lock Company, we provide full-service locksmith services to Maryland and D.C. Metro residents and business owners. Our company has been offering professional service since 1960, giving us decades of experience in the industry. We can handle any job, big or small. Whether you need a lockout service for your car, business or home, or need a new lock installed, we’ve got you covered.

Our lockout services can help you whether you’ve lost your keys, your door lock is sticking, you need a repair or your lock experiences issues in extreme weather. We provide upfront and fair pricing along with friendly and quick service, so you can get back on schedule as conveniently as possible. If your door lock isn’t working, don’t worry! Contact us for any lock service you need. We’re happy to help!

Choose Ernie's Lock Company for Your Lock Needs


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Signs You Need a Safe Repair

Category : Blog

Safe dial lock

Installing a safe in your business premises or home enables you to protect documents, money and other valuable items. You need to inspect the safe regularly to ensure all components work correctly so you can keep your valuables secure. You may need safe repair when the vault’s components wear out due to continued usage, rust or break-in.

Ernie’s Lock Company is a licensed locksmith with highly skilled technicians who can diagnose any issue with your safe. Call our team when you identify signs you need your vault repaired. We can schedule emergency appointments and replace parts quickly.

Signs You Need Your Safe Repaired

Your vault’s inner and outer components may need repair when you notice any of the following:

Stubborn Lock

Are you turning the key around a few minutes before the lock opens? It happens because of misaligned internal components, rough edges and faulty keys. Even though you can open the safe with a few tries, getting it checked by a professional will give you peace of mind.

Loose Hinges

A wobbling safe door that requires extra push to open needs immediate attention because the worn-out hinges create an opportunity for compromise. Hiring a professional will help you find the source of the weakness and determine whether to repair or install new hinges to eliminate the possibility of forced entry.

Unusual Sound

If you hear your safe click, grind or scrape, the bolts, gears or other components may be worn out or misaligned. A professional will repair these parts so you can open your safe without making an unpleasant sound.

Worn-Out Combination Locks

Is your combination failing to align even though you’re sure it is right? That’s a sign of internal issues that need immediate attention. Call for help when you encounter resistance, break your combination key or forget the numbers. A lock expert will help you access the contents in your safe and create a new combination.

Corrosion

Rust wears out the safe’s material, weakens it and creates possibilities for forced entry. Getting the safe polished and coated with durable material will reinforce the gadget so it can resist water and look neat and clean.

Evidence of Tampering

If someone accesses your safe without permission and you’re unsure how it happened, seek professional assistance. An expert will help you determine how the person gained access and install measures to prevent it from happening in the future.

Contact Ernie’s Lock Company for Expert Safe Repair Services

Are you experiencing one or more of these signs with your safe in Riverdale, Maryland? Contact our technicians for immediate service. We use high-quality parts to repair your vault to extend its life span, keep it attractive and create a fortress for your valuable items.

You can contact our team by giving us a call at 301-277-1126 or requesting a quote. We’re committed to offering transparent prices to build trust with our customers  — you can send us pictures of your vault, and we will give you a quick repair estimate. We can also repair locks for your business and residential premises.


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How to Protect Your Car From Break-Ins 

Category : Blog

How to Protect Your Car From Break-Ins

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 1 million vehicles are stolen in the United States annually. Many people don’t report the theft of personal belongings inside vehicles, making the frequency difficult to measure, though that number is probably considerably higher than that of car theft. 

Whether you want to follow the best safety practices in general, you’ve heard about crime in an area or you’ve personally experienced theft and never want it to happen again, here are some of the best ways to protect your car from break-ins. 

1. Park in Secure Areas

Many car break-ins happen where no one can see. When possible, park near other people or choose a lot with an attendant. Thieves want to avoid a crowd of onlookers, so they’ll usually avoid busy parking lots with plenty of pedestrian and vehicle traffic.

Avoid parking along dark streets and in empty parking garages. Whenever possible, park your car in an area with ample lighting or plenty of street lamps. If you live on a private property, installing motion-sensor lights is often a smart move. These simple devices can help deter unwanted visitors and give you peace of mind. 

2. Keep Your Valuables out of Sight

Whether you’re leaving your car for a minute or parking it for the night, you shouldn’t leave your purse, wallet or phone in plain sight. Bring these items with you or install window tinting treatments so it’s more difficult for others to see what’s in your vehicle. 

Some thieves scope out parking lots, looking for targets who move items into their trunks before leaving to visit more stores. For this reason, it’s a good idea to finish all your shopping at once or plan to move your vehicle after you’ve deposited something valuable inside. 

3. Activate Your Car’s Alarm System 

Many car models have a standard alarm system that produces a loud, siren-like sound. Depending on the alarm system’s features, you could program it to sound an alarm in case of vibrations or mild to excessive contact on the vehicle’s windows, locks, headlights or tires. 

Today’s alarms are becoming more advanced and including more capabilities than ever. Some models even feature a kill switch, which can shut down the engine from a remote location. 

3. Install a Vehicle Immobilizer

In some cases, a thief can hotwire your car to bypass your ignition. You can prevent hot-wiring with a vehicle immobilizer. These systems may include smart keys, authentication for wireless ignition and kill switches. 

The immobilizers disable a vehicle to prevent someone from stealing your car. Typically, newer vehicles have this device built in. You can purchase aftermarket immobilizers for older vehicles. 

4. Invest in Steering Wheel Locks 

Consider installing a steering wheel lock if you’d like to use a visible anti-theft device. The device attaches to your steering wheel and prevents anyone without a key from driving away. To remove the device, someone would have to drill the lock out using power tools or picking skills. 

A steering wheel lock can cause a would-be thief to turn away since stealing your car would require more time and effort and pose a higher risk of getting caught. 

5. Always Lock Your Vehicle

The simplest and most important way to prevent car break-ins is simply keeping your windows closed and locking your car doors. Create a habit of locking your car, even when you’re driving, and always check your car doors after parking to ensure they’re secure. 

You might also consider investing in other car locks, like brake locks. Since the systems require a key to unlock the device, they prevent a thief from stealing your vehicle. As a last resort, secure your car’s wheels with wheel clamps and lug nut locks. This measure takes some effort, so it’s only ideal if you’re leaving your car for a long time or if you’re in a high-crime area. 

Contact Ernie’s Lock Company for Lock Services 

Are you looking for ways to increase your safety and protection? You can trust the trained, licensed and experienced technicians at Ernie’s Lock Company to offer quality products and expert insight. 

With experience stretching back to 1960, we’re the professionals you can count on for quality solutions. Our team operates in communities throughout Maryland and the DC Metro areas, providing commercial, residential and emergency locksmith services. 

To get started, contact our team to ask for more information or schedule a lock service today! Please give us a call if you need immediate services.


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How to Secure Your Garage Door

Category : Blog

How To Secure Your Garage Door

On average, over one million home burglaries happen yearly in the United States. The garage is an often overlooked entry point to the home that can allow unwanted visitors access if not properly secured. 

When properly equipped, a garage door can offer protection and help keep your family, belongings and property safe. Benefit from greater peace of mind when you learn how to prevent garage door break-ins with these tips. 

1. Don’t Leave Your Doors Open

When you’re working on a DIY project or want to organize boxes in the garage, keeping your door open is okay. An open garage door offers better lighting and enhances airflow. However, it’s essential to keep your doors closed when you’re not there to supervise the space at all times. 

Even if you’re working on your yard, you should consider keeping the doors secure to keep people passing by from seeing the contents of your garage. 

2. Enhance Your Lighting

Burglars prefer working in the dark where no one can see them. By hiding in bushes or landscaping at night, burglars can sneak up to your garage door undetected. You can deter these stealthy break-ins by installing motion-activated lights. 

Adding motion-activated flood lights near your garage windows and doors can startle would-be intruders, and the illumination makes it difficult to move closer without drawing attention. Because of this, burglars may think twice about breaking in. 

3. Add Security Cameras

You can increase your garage door security with motion-activated cameras. Any time a car pulls onto your driveway or someone walks by, the devices will start recording — a video of a person’s face, clothing and actions works as excellent evidence in case an incident occurs. 

Today’s advanced technology lets you sync cameras with smart home systems as well. This capability provides a way to check on your garage door and receive real-time alerts if the system is triggered. 

4. Obscure Your Windows

Do you store expensive tools or a classic vehicle in your garage? Regardless of what you keep in there, you don’t want someone to take a peek and get interested. Even if you don’t store anything in your garage, would-be burglars may look for a vehicle to see if anyone’s home. Because of this, it’s a good idea to cover your windows. 

To increase privacy and maintain natural lighting, consider a frosted glass or translucent film. As another option, you might install window treatments like garage blinds or curtains. 

5. Secure Your Entry Door

Attached garages offer an easy and convenient way to get out of the house, especially during rainy or cold weather. However, the connecting doors can pose a security risk if you don’t lock them. After a burglar enters your garage, this entry door is the only barrier left to the rest of your home.

Whether you’re just running inside for a few minutes or getting ready to go to sleep, you should always check to ensure you’ve locked your entry door behind you. You can enhance your protection by investing in a steel door and using extra security measures, like a deadbolt. 

6. Hide Your Garage Door Remote

When you park your car on your driveway, a burglar could look inside your vehicle for the remote to your garage door. Don’t have it clipped to your sun visor or your glove box — these are the first places a burglar may look. 

Instead, keep your remote out of plain sight. It’s best to carry these devices in your purse or coat pocket and bring them inside your house with your other keys.

7. Use Garage Door Locks

While automatic garage door openers make it more difficult for burglars to get inside, it isn’t impossible. If you’re going on vacation or will be away for an extended time, consider taking extra security measures. For example, you can clamp a padlock to a garage door track to keep the door closed. 

If you manually open and close your garage doors, you should always keep them locked. Keeping your expensive tools or personal belongings locked away is also a good idea. 

Contact Ernie’s Lock Company for Residential Lock Services

Want to increase your security or discover the best ways to lock down your garage door? The licensed technicians at Ernie’s Lock Company can give you guidance and recommendations. To get started, contact the team today! If you need immediate services, please give us a call.


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How to Protect Your Home While Traveling

Category : Blog , Locks

All the anticipation of an upcoming vacation can be distracting, especially after you’ve packed everything you need and loaded your suitcases into the car. Amid this excitement, homeowners sometimes forget to take one last look around their house to ensure their property doesn’t appear inviting to intruders.

Preventing break-ins and other potential problems takes minimal planning and will provide extra peace of mind while you’re away.

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How to Choose a Deadbolt Lock

Category : Locks

Feeling safe and secure at home or at your business is of the utmost importance. You want your home or commercial property to remain safe from intruders or other unwelcome guests, and one way to gain extra security is with a deadbolt lock. 

Deadbolt locks are additional locks on doors aside from the lock on the knob. These locks are very heavy-duty to give you increased peace of mind when relaxing at home or conducting important business at work. 

If your home or business does not currently have a deadbolt lock, you’ll want to look into installing one on each exterior exit. There are many different types, and selecting a deadbolt lock may be more complicated than you think. This guide will explain the different types and sizes and how to choose a deadbolt lock for your home or business. 

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How Long Do Locksmiths Take?

Category : Blog , Locks

How Long do Locksmiths Take?

Few things are more frustrating than being unable to unlock your property. This event can happen when you’ve accidentally locked yourself out of your car or your front door keys no longer work. In either event, you need a locksmith’s help, fast. But how long do locksmiths take to arrive and provide their services?

In our article, we’ll describe what to expect in terms of a locksmith’s estimated time of arrival and how long it may take to unlock your front door or car,  rekey a home, or duplicate a key.

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How to Become a Locksmith

Category : Keys , Locks

How to Become a Locksmith

Becoming a locksmith is a trade skill that allows someone to learn everything they can about locks, keys and how to work with and around the two. A good locksmith can install and repair locks, replace and replicate keys, and troubleshoot faulty ones in your home, business, cars, safes and anything else you keep locked up.

The requirements for becoming a locksmith vary based on your location. Many states will require some sort of certification, but others don’t require any. Let’s take a look at the process dedicated experts have gone through to gain the ability to take care of all your lock and key needs.

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Top 10 Tips to Hiring a Reliable Locksmith

Category : Blog

Top 10 Tips to Hiring a Reliable Locksmith

Hiring a locksmith can be highly frustrating and dangerous if done the wrong way. You don’t want to give an unqualified or ill-intentioned person access to the locks for your business, car or house. Put your security in the hands of a properly trained and reliable locksmith, who you know can get the job right without ripping you off or worse.

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What Are the Essential Tools of a Locksmith? 

Category : Blog

Locksmiths install, repair and fix locks in cars and buildings. Locksmithing is a professional trade and there are specific tools that every locksmith should have at their disposal. Since 1960, expert locksmiths at Ernie’s Lock Company have proudly serviced the Maryland and Metro D.C. area. As your neighborhood locksmith, Ernie’s has the knowledge, skills and tools for commercial, residential or emergency locksmithing jobs. 

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