Fix Stuck or Jammed Dead Bolts

Updated: Jan. 03, 2019

A shot of dry Teflon spray will fix a jammed door lock and keep the bolt operating smoothly.

FH11MAR_DEABOL_01-2Family Handyman
If your deadbolt sticks or is jammed, give it a shot of Teflon lube spray to get it operating smoothly again. It only takes five minutes.

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Can’t get your door unlocked? Don’t panic, we’ll show you how to fix a door lock that is jammed.

Step 1: Lube the lock cylinder

how to fix a door lock that is jammed

Photo 1: Lube the keyway

Leave the lock cylinder on the door and spray inside the keyway. Then insert your key and twist it several times to work in the lube.

You use your dead bolt every day without giving a thought to maintenance. But one of these days, it’s going to fight back and refuse to open. Don’t panic; it’s just crying for a few shots of lube. You can get it working again with dry Teflon lube spray. It’s a better choice than graphite because it sprays on wet to soak into the lock mechanism. The solvent evaporates, leaving behind a dry, slippery powder. Start by lubing the lock cylinder (Photo 1). Click here for our favorite lube spray from Amazon.

Step 2: Lube the bolt mechanism

Photo 2: Lube the bolt

Remove the two screws that hold the lock cylinder and pull it from the door. Then saturate the bolt mechanism with the spray lube and twist it back and forth with a flat-blade screwdriver. Reinstall the lock cylinder and you’re good to go.

If lubing the lock cylinder doesn’t free it, you’ll need to lube the bolt mechanism (Photo 2).

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • 4-in-1 screwdriver

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.

  • Teflon spray lube