How to Keep Door Locks from Freezing

How to Keep Door Locks from Freezing
Image by Yue Iris

Dealing with frozen door locks during the winter can be frustrating. Maybe you have a detached garage, garden shed where you store some of your outdoor essentials, or other lockable places exposed to the harsh winter weather and are looking for a solution to prevent the door locks from becoming frozen in the first place. You don’t want to be left out in the cold or have problems accessing your locked belongings. 

Here are some tips to keep your door locks from freezing:

WD-40 multi-use is a common lubricant that you can spray on your door locks to keep water out of your locks to prevent freezing. Spray your locks at least once or twice per week to keep them in good working order during winter. Remember that this is only effective if the lubricant gets inside the lock to prevent moisture build-up inside the lock mechanism and subsequent freezing. 

Apply the formula carefully following the instructions and remove it entirely once the warm weather is back.

Use Graphite Spray

Graphite spray is also another reliable option for preventing locks from freezing. When used as a lubricant, it allows the internal moving or sliding parts to move freely. However, it only works effectively if there’s no water inside the lock. Unlike WD-40, graphite spray doesn’t have a harsh odor. You should also apply it regularly to prevent freezing. 

Switch to Weatherproof Locks

How to Keep Door Locks from Freezing

If you want worry-free door lock operation no matter the conditions, opt for weatherproof locks designed to protect your home or other property against harsh winter conditions. These locks are specifically designed for extended outdoor use and can resist freezing better than normal locks. There are different grades of weatherproof locks, so make sure to go for the best weatherproofing. 

Opt for Keyless Door Locks

Fluctuating temperatures during winter can cause door locks to jam and fail to work. One of the best ways to prevent door locks from freezing is installing keyless or smart locks that you can open without a key, either by entering a code via a dial-pad/keypad or wirelessly with just a smartphone. Keyless entry locks can save you lots of stress during winter and are a better, long-term solution. 

Apply Some Petroleum Jelly on the Lock

Petroleum jelly helps block moisture from getting inside the lock, which eventually prevents you from entering the key when the moisture freezes. Smear the jelly on the key, insert it inside the lock, and then move it around to coat the inner locking mechanism. You’ll need to do this a few times throughout winter to keep your locks well lubricated and moisture-free. Note that this method doesn’t work for combination locks. 

Use a Magnet to Cover the Lock Opening

This is a simple DIY solution for homeowners during winter. You’ll need a strong magnet to stick to the lock opening. Ensure it covers the entire door lock opening to prevent moisture from getting inside the lock. It’s a great option to combine with compressed air treatment since it stops more moisture from getting inside the lock. It’s perfect for door locks that you’ll not access for a few months. 

Use a Rubber Fruit Preservation Cover

If you have door knobs with deadbolts, you can use rubber fruit preservation covers to cover the lock. These are sold at grocery stores and online. It should be easy buying the right one if you know the size of your doorknobs. Some locksmith shops also sell specialized ones for door locks. Note that this method may not work for all door locks or doorknobs. 

Install a Storm Door 

A storm door is designed to protect your primary entry door from ice, rain, and snow, reducing maintenance costs while also helping your doors last longer. If you’re looking for ways to protect your doors from winter weather, storm doors are a perfect consideration for your next home renovation plan on a budget. One installed, you should not have frozen up door locks after that. 

What to do When Your Door Locks are Frozen

How to Keep Door Locks from Freezing
Image by Nixon Flores

Now that we’ve looked at the different ways you can prevent locks from freezing, you’ll definitely need to know what to do when you have frozen door locks. Here’s what you need to do to de-ice a door lock:

  • Clear the ice around the door lock cylinder – This will clear the ice so you can enter the key, although the interior is most likely already frozen. You can chip away the excess ice.
  • De-ice the keyhole – Use a de-icing spray to target the keyhole. You can use WD-40 or other specialized sprays that work better.
  • Dip your key into hand sanitizer – This will help melt ice when you slide the key into the lock. Shake the lock a bit and try to turn the key. The alcohol in the hand sanitizer helps de-ice the lock. 
  • Heat the key – This should be the last option if you don’t have access to other solutions. This can be harder to accomplish as you’ll first need hot water, a hairdryer, a heat gun, a blow torch, or a lighter. Be sure to use gloves when handling the hotkey, insert it into the lock, and wait a bit for the first layer of ice to melt away. Be safe when doing this.

The Bottomline

It helps to keep some de-icing spray somewhere easily accessible at all times during winter. It can be inside your car or a toolbox you can access without needing key access. Take the necessary steps to prevent your locks from freezing before winter comes, and remember to check your locks’ condition regularly. 

A word of caution: Never pour hot water to defrost door locks — this only ends up freezing the water solid before too long. When opening frozen locks with a key, be careful not to turn the key too hard as it could break off and cause an even bigger problem.