Left Out In The Cold: The Do's And Don'ts Of Unlocking Frozen Locks


If you live in an area that sees very low winter temperatures, there's a good chance that you've had to contend with a frozen lock before. Whether you've struggled to get into your frozen car, or even had to contend with a frozen front door lock on your home, the challenge is the same. How do you safely melt the ice blocking the mechanism, so you can get in out of the cold? Here are some things that you should do to get your locks defrosted, and some things that you shouldn't do.

Home locks

In very cold weather, moisture inside your front door lock can freeze, causing the lock to seize up and become impossible to open. Fortunately, there's a fairly simple solution.

Do remove any excess ice that you can see on the outside of the lock. 

Do heat your key with a lighter or match, then insert it quickly in the lock. It will temporarily melt the ice enough to turn the lock and get your door open. If you don't have a lighter or match, you can place the key on your car's hot engine for a few minutes, but be careful not to touch the engine yourself, or you could get burned. 

Do keep a disposable hand warmer on hand to activate in order to defrost your lock. These "squeeze to activate" heat sources can provide enough heat to melt the ice if you hold one over the lock for a few minutes. As an added bonus, your hands will stay warm while waiting for the door to open.

Don't force the key to turn if it refuses. You may have to try heating the key a little longer, but be careful not to burn yourself while doing so. Gloves are extremely useful when holding a heated key.

Do prevent frozen door locks by applying a spray lubricant regularly. This will prevent moisture from building up and freezing when the temperature drops.

Automobile locks

There are few things more frustrating than waking to find that your car door lock has frozen over during the night, especially if you are in a hurry to get to work or school. Like frozen house locks, frozen automobile locks can be dealt with easily and quickly, if you have the right tools.

Do use the "heated key" trick to unlock your car door. It works just as well on car door locks as it does on house locks.

Do keep hand sanitizer around to put on your key. If the sanitizer is 60% alcohol or more, it will melt the ice and let you into the car. As an added bonus, any sanitizer that works itself into your car lock will help to prevent future freezing incidents, since alcohol doesn't freeze they way water does.

Do blow on your lock to melt the ice. Use a drinking straw or toilet paper tube to direct the warm air of your breath directly onto the lock. This can take longer, and requires a lot of patience, but can work well in a pinch.

Don't force your lock or force your door open if it feels stuck. The rubber seal around the inside of your door could be frozen, and forcing it open could damage your car, leading to costly repairs. Try pushing against the door to break the ice and avoid damaging the rubber. You can also spray deicer along the edge of the door, and it also works well when sprayed into your door lock.

The best way to deal with a frozen lock is to avoid having one. While it can be difficult to prevent your outside locks from freezing, it's not impossible. Click here for more ideas and keep your locks well-maintained, lubricated, and free from moisture, so you'll be less likely to face a frozen lock when the temperature drops.


19 February 2015

Sarah's Renting Tips

Although I've never worked professionally in the real estate business, I sure know my way around it. How, do you ask? Well, I have simply rented a lot of different places and worked with a lot of different landlords and real estate agents. In the past 7 years I've lived in 11 different houses or apartments, none of them my own. In finding those 11, I have looked at literally hundreds of apartments. I used to hate house hunting, but now it's kind of fun. You just need to know what you want and the right questions to ask. Hopefully this blog can help you learn some of the tricks of the trade from another renter like yourself.