Jammed 5 lever ASSA Mortice Lock

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What a day!

Just been out for a walk and the front door locked OK (albeit I have to really tug on the door handle as the damned thing expands as the weather warms up).

Came back and couldn't get in the house.

Ended up kicking the back door in because I couldn't be bothered to wait for a mate with a Multimaster to come and cut out a window I currently have boarded up at the front whilst I am restoring a timber window.

So now I have two problems to solve! I can fix the rear door easily enough as it's due for renewal anyway.

But, I still cannot open the front door. Have tried the missus' key and no different so that rules out the levers on the key being bent. Even tried with a pair of pliers and her key just twisted and bent.

Is it simply a case of just angle grinding through the mortice lock?

I can't recall where I bought that lock from. I thought it was good quality though chances are I've probably just bought it from SF or TS.

Obviously don't want to leave door unsecured overnight and time is marching on today so are all 5 lever mortice deadlock cases roughly the same size please?

Any other last minute tips I could try before trashing it in my usual inimitable style?

I have some graphite powder and some PlusGas so I could try a squirt of that though I don't believe it will make a difference as the lock was fairly free and easy before the weather changed.

Maybe when the weather changes and the door tightens it causes more stress on the lock internals? I did have to be quite forcible with it at times.

The mortice lock does jiggle ever so slightly when the key is turned either way.

Thanks in advance.

Oh and what is the best quality mechanism to replace it with please these days?
 
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Good news!

Lubricating it seemed to ease it and sort it.

So all I really need to know now is what is the best lubricant for a mortice deadlock? Normal grease or graphite powder?

Existing internals have evidence of grease.

Presumably lube every interface bar where you would get it on your key?
 
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I see you've got it open now. Take that as a warning and either replace or thoroughly clean it. There may be a fault which will happen again. You should not use oil or grease as this sticks to dirt and grit. You can use graphite powder after you have cleaned and dried it. Put it between each of the levers, where they slide against each other, and the bolt, and each pivot or rubbing part (you will see rub-marks). Or you can use a "Dry PTFE" spray that is not oily or greasy.

Take the lock case out, open it, photograph it at every step. Lift out the levers one at a time and scratch-mark each one "1, 2, 3, 4, 5" so you put them back the same way.

Clean every part in white spirit with a small paintbrush and set on kitchen roll to dry. Look for a loose screw or damaged part.

It might be that you have an open keyhole and dirt or grit is blowing in. In this case, buy a new keyhole cover for at least one side.

Look for the "year" in the Kitemark stamp on the front plate. What year is it?

A new British Standard 5-lever lock is cheaper than you think, and if you can get the same make and model, it will slide straight in.

If the door is warped, sagged or obstructed, it may be putting force on the bolt and preventing it from sliding. This is a carpentry job. You may need to move the staple ("keep") in the doorframe. Down, if the door has sagged, in or out if the door is warped.
 
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Here's some I did earlier



yours is likely to be simpler.
 

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p.s.

if you take out and photograph the lock, and the key, we may be able to identify it.

Assa group owns many lock brands, including Union, who do a very good British Standard 5-lever for around £25. It has a deep red case.
 
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Hi JohnD

Thanks for promptly reaching out.

I stripped it and cleaned it with IPA so it was squeaky clean. I happened to have some graphite powder and the locks in my car were spinning a few months ago so I stripped and repaired those. They were fun to do...

I do indeed have an open keyhole. I'll try to get some keyhole covers. Presumably just drill and rivet?

It's not Assa. It's Asec. I've never heard of that brand. Anyway, it conforms to BS3621:2007 so it's more than a few years old as I see the BS was revised in 2017.

I noted that there are stamped numbers on the levers. Presumably I could tell a locksmith that I want a key made to a certain number and switch the levers around. The key is symmetrical which I think is less secure than if it was asymmetrical perhaps? Would you agree?

I should perhaps adjust the keep. Just didn't want the door rattling in Autumn/Winter/Spring when it's cooler. I did actually think of getting a coarse file on the keep rather trying to adjust its position.

I couldn't see any obvious signs of wear. It appeared to have a mix of either grease and graphite or a molybdenum grease inside.

Lesson learned. I am going to get a spare key cut for the back door to save me kicking it in if it happens again. What an afternoon that turned out to be. It just so happened that I had an engineer's fly press by the back door which I had recently been trying to lubricate and clean up. Made for an interesting battering ram. I have a panelled back door which is soon going to be replaced so I was hoping to put one of the panels through so I could unlock it.

Luckily, I'd seriously attacked the hawthorn hedge to one side with the neighbour and they are home all day so I was able to carefully climb through whilst they held some branches back.
 

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I might buy a spare just in case it happens again anytime soon then it doesn't matter what time of day it jams.

I'm pretty confident it is not overtly worn out but I do think the bolt hitting the keep and me having to put weight against the door to lock it is probably somehow accelerating wear. There is a slight dink in my key now where I tried to force it.
 
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It's possible the old grease had hardened and prevented levers moving freely, but I suspect the warped door jammed the bolt.

Also, keys wear over time, so might not lift the levers enough from one side. The other side of the key may be less worn.

If you have access to the back garden, you might consider putting a keysafe out of sight, well away from the door, maybe in a shed or something. The combination keysafes are not very secure so I think are best out of sight of random visitors, and well away from the door whose key they hold.

Having a replacement lock re-levered to suit is easy, but will probably cost more than just buying a good new one.

The numbers on the levers indicate what lift that lever has

The keys to 5-lever locks are always symmetrical so they work from both sides of the door

(Except for Safe and similar locks which are only ever opened from one side)
 
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It's possible the old grease had hardened and prevented levers moving freely, but I suspect the warped door jammed the bolt.

Also, keys wear over time, so might not lift the levers enough from one side. The other side of the key may be less worn.

If you have access to the back garden, you might consider putting a keysafe out of sight, well away from the door, maybe in a shed or something. The combination keysafes are not very secure so I think are best out of sight of random visitors, and well away from the door whose key they hold.

Having a replacement lock re-levered to suit is easy, but will probably cost more than just buying a good new one.

The numbers on the levers indicate what lift that lever has

The keys to 5-lever locks are always symmetrical so they work from both sides of the door

(Except for Safe and similar locks which are only ever opened from one side)

Yes. Of course they are symmetrical for a reason. Didn't consider that although I did think that a locksmith would need to know from what side. I could have two keys made, one for inside and one for outside then I could have it asymetrical.

I nearly bought one of those keysafes around Xmas time as SF had an offer on for either £10 or £15. The back garden isn't readily accessible but I would still put it there because it would mean accessing from the neighbour's through the hedge. Not ideal but certainly secure. However, where's there's a will, there's a way!

I'll see how it goes with the existing lock. I'm sure there's plenty more life left in it but at least I will, in future, be able to get in without breaking a door and then angle grind worst case scenario.

Thanks for all your advice and input. It is very much appreciated.
 
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By the way, I have backplates on my handles so unless I can get a key cover that can be retrofitted then I'm looking at replacing with one with a backplate that does have.
 
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