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13+ Things Your Locksmith Won’t Tell You

A good front door lock is your home’s first line of defense. Save money while keeping your house safe with these expert locksmith tips.

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1. Many of Us do Undercover Work for the Cops

We make keys for them and get them into places at 3 a.m. so they can set up surveillance equipment or put the bugs in place. It’s part of the thrill of doing what we do.

(Photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

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2. Contractors Stink at Installing Dead Bolts

I can’t tell you how many times I go out to rekey one or let someone in, and I find problems. If it isn’t correctly installed, it won’t protect you.

A properly installed dead bolt should have at least a one-inch “throw,” and on the “strike side,” there should be a security plate with screws at least three inches long that go all the way into the door’s wood frame.

(Photo: Hemera/Thinkstock)

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3. Have a Housekeeper Who Needs a Key?

Ask me to key your door so that your master key works on both the dead bolt and the doorknob, but hers works just on the knob. On the day she comes, lock only the knob.

(Photo: Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Thinkstock)

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4. Windows Can be a Liability

If you have a window on or near your door, a thumb-turn dead bolt won’t do much good. They knock out the glass, stick a hand in, and turn. Get a double cylinder lock that needs a key on the inside.

(Photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

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5. Despite What You See on TV…

…think twice before you buy a locked safe at a flea market, estate sale, or auction. It’s probably going to cost you $300 or more to open it, and chances are, all you’re going to find is mouse poop.

(Photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

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6. A New House Should Mean New Keys

When you buy a new house, always have your locks rekeyed. Otherwise there’s probably a master key out there that can easily open your home.

(Photo: Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock)

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7. Keys Stamped “Do Not Duplicate” Get Duplicated All the Time

Ask me about high-security locks with keys that can’t be replicated at the hardware store.

(Photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

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8. We’re Supposed to Check ID Before Opening Anything

But half the time when someone is locked out of their house or car, where do you think their ID is?

(Photo: Goodshoot/Thinkstock)

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9. The Biggest Mistakes People Make with their Safe?

Spinning the dial too fast, trying to open it before it’s unlocked, and forcing it closed when there’s obviously a problem.

(Photo: Creatas/Thinkstock)

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10. I’ve Seen My Share of Dead Bodies

It’s never a good sign when the landlord calls to get into an apartment, and nobody’s seen the tenant for ten days.

(Photo: David De Lossy/Photodisc/Thinkstock)

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11. Divorce Lock-Outs Are a Challenge

The soon-to-be-ex wife will call and say she’s locked out, so I get her in and change the locks. Then the husband calls with the same request. I refer him to a competitor.

(Photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

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12. If You’re Locked Out, Only Call One of Us

More than once, I arrived at a lock-out to find two competitors’ trucks already there. At that point, we all agreed to leave and abandon the inconsiderate victim.

(Photo: Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Thinkstock)

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13. Never Tell Me, “Don’t Worry, It’s an Easy Lock”

Every time someone says that, it takes an extra ten minutes to get it open. It’s the kiss of death.

(Photo: Hemera/Thinkstock)

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14. Car Keys? We Can Copy Them for Less

Don’t believe a car dealer who says only he can duplicate keys. In most cases, a locksmith who specializes in automotive work can make you a key-usually cheaper.

(Photo: Polka Dot Images/Jupiterimages) 

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15. WD-40 Can Help

If your key won’t turn, try WD-40 or silicone spray. Sometimes the pins get jammed up, and 25 to 40 per cent of the time, that solves the problem.

(Photo courtesy of FHKE/Creative Commons Flickr)

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16. Please Try the Door Before Calling

I’ve gone to houses and found it open. (And yes, I’m still going to charge you for the service call.)