Here's a nightmare scenario: you insert your key into the lock, but it simply won't turn. You double check and you're absolutely certain that you are using the right key, but the key simply won't budge. There's a good chance that the problem lies within the keyhole. You should most definitely call a locksmith to come by in order to get your lock professionally inspected, but, in the meantime, here are several solutions that you can try.
Lubricate the Keyhole with WD40
If the key isn't turning, there's a good chance that the pins inside are simply jammed. Spraying the keyhole with a light lubricant and degreaser like WD40 will be the solution 25 to 40% of the time. This light lubricant and degreaser will not only lubricate the pins so that they'll unjam but will also wash away dirt and debris, which would have otherwise become an obstruction, out of the keyhole. Locks that are exposed to the outdoors frequently collect a lot of dirt and dust particles within that may cause the pins to stick together. The lubricant is used to free up the pins.
Lubricating the keyhole with WD40 will also eliminate any squeaky noises that may be coming from the keyhole. You will only need to use a small amount in order to get the result you want.
Remove Obstructions Using a Small Piece of Wire
Obstructions within the keyhole that prevent the key from being fully inserted will also prevent your key from unlocking all the pins and turning. Use a small piece of wire to remove obstructions in the keyhole. Insert the piece of wire into the keyhole to determine where the obstruction is located. If the obstruction is relatively small, gently work your way around the obstruction to see if you can remove it by yourself. Once the obstruction is removed, the pins will fall back into their natural position, and your key can be inserted into the lock with ease.
Just because the obstruction is removed, you should still call a locksmith. Once a locksmith arrives, get the locksmith to professionally clean the keyhole, as there's a good chance that it is still dirty. The lock and cylinder will need to be removed in order for the inner nooks and crannies to be cleaned. You'll want a professional locksmith to do the job to prevent damaging the lock or any of its components.
Replace the Lock Cylinder
If you find that the lock is well lubricated and there are no obstructions present, then there's a good chance that the lock cylinder is simply worn down from years of use. The pins inside may be corroded or worn down to a point where they are completely stuck and cannot be unstuck. In these situations, the lock will usually be irreparable and will need to be replaced. A professional locksmith will show you the exact cause of the jam or the malfunction if the only option left is to replace the lock.
For your new lock, choose Grade 1 (ANSI Designation) deadbolt locks with a 1-inch minimum throw on the deadbolt for exterior doors and entrances. These types of locks offer optimal security. You can also take this opportunity to upgrade the type of security strike plates that are installed to the doorframes.
If your keys ever get jammed in the lock, call a locksmith in order to have the lock thoroughly examined. As the locks are your first line of defense against burglars and intruders, you want to confirm that they are in good condition in order to protect yourself and your home. You also want to make sure that you don't get locked out of your house ever again from the same problem.