Locks that are outside and subject to the elements are at risk of freezing when temperatures drop below the freezing point (32 degrees Fahrenheit). In freezing conditions, it is most common for a lock to freeze overnight after the sun has set, and the temperatures are at their lowest point. Waking up to a frozen car door lock can be frustrating if you are trying to get to work. Also, a frozen lock is the last thing you want to deal with if you’re tasked with locking the front door as you leave the house in a hurry. However, the good news is there are a few ways you can tackle your frozen locks.
How to Open a Frozen Lock
Why do Locks Freeze?
If there is moisture, condensation, or dew in the air, it can easily get into a lock. Then, when the temperature drops, the water in the lock hardens and freezes. A frozen lock will keep the moving parts together inside the lock and even close off the hole for the key. Here are some tips for preventing your locks from freezing in cold temperatures.
How to Prevent Frozen Locks
Before we look at the options to open frozen locks, it will be helpful to know that you can also prevent it from happening. These tips will save you the headache of fighting with a frozen lock altogether. To prevent locks from freezing consider the following methods:
- Buy a padlock that is more resilient to weather and freezing cold temperatures. Locks with fewer moving parts such as a ball bearing system are less likely to freeze. Conversely, locks with spring-loaded bars and combination padlocks are more likely to freeze as they have more moving parts.
- Use a plastic covering for your padlocks. Plastic coverings help prevent moisture and dew from entering the parts of the lock that are susceptible. In fact, there are a few companies that manufacture these products. Most hardware stores will carry plastic coverings for all types of outdoor locks.
- Use a sock or small cloth bag. A sock or small cloth bag is a cheap and effective option to prevent ice from forming in a lock. It is easy to place and remove the pouch and it will do the job of keeping water from going into the lock mechanism, thereby reducing the chance of it freezing.
- Grease up your lock with Vaseline (petroleum jelly). By greasing the lock shafts as well as the keyhole, it causes the water to run off and prevents it from freezing the lock mechanism and keyhole.
How to Open A Frozen Lock
Dealing with a frozen lock can be frustrating. However, there are a few easy ways to help you overcome this obstacle. Here are some tips for opening a frozen lock whether it be a car lock, locked box, or any other type of lock that is frozen.
- Use aerosol de-icer. You can buy aerosol de-icer at most local shops or hardware stores. Using a de-icing spray is as easy as spraying the lock that is frozen, and letting the product work its magic.
- Use a de-icer product with heating elements. This type of de-icing product uses heating pads that you can apply to the frozen lock. Once the de-icer heats up, the ice will melt and free up the lock.
- Use a lighter and heat up your key. After heating up your key, insert it into the keyhole. The heat generated from the key will warm up the inside of the lock and free up the lock mechanism slowly as the ice melts. If you opt to use this method, be careful to not heat up the key to the point it morphs the key.
- Use a hairdryer. You can use the hairdryer on low heat and blow hot air on the lock. The hot air will cause the lock to warm up and melt ice.
Caution – Do not use boiling water!
It is important to note that you should never use boiling hot water to try and unfreeze a lock. If you use boiling water, it will cause the lock and the mechanism inside the lock to shatter. This will give you even bigger problems than a frozen lock. Although heat is a key factor in freeing up a frozen lock, using extremely hot water on a frozen lock will cause more damage and further prevent you from opening the lock.
Helpful Link: Omaha Weather Forecast (Weather.gov)
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