Getting Your Locks Ready For Winter
The Winter is coming! The Winter is coming!
No need to be alarmed, I hope.
With the onset of Winter, come unique problems that can affect your locks on your home and your car.
Because of the climate in the South, with all the humidity which can make outdoor activities down right miserable on our 98° days (and sometimes nights). In the Winter, when temperatures dip below freezing, the water in the air, as it condenses on surfaces, freezes as well.
Because most of our locks are exposed to the outside air, the humidity enters them, usually via the keyway, on a constant basis. As it cools, it condenses into a microscopic layer over the pins and springs inside your lock.
This, then freezes, effectively “locking” your lock, by freezing the springs and pins in place. For some unknown cosmic reason, this tends to happen just when you get home from work, it’s dark out, and you have just spent hour crawling through Rush Hour traffic. Not fun.
Sometimes while out shopping, in the lot at work, in just driving, or even in your own driveway – you will encounter, rain, puddles, splashes and even snow cast off from a snowplow. Although, if last Winter is any yardstick, a snowplow may NEVER come your way. Even melting and re-freezing ice can be a problem.
These can have the effect of forcing water, sometimes under pressure, inside your vehicle locks. The mercury drops and then, you have an icy mess inside your lock.
This problem crops up more often in older vehicles. Auto locks generally have a spring-loaded dust shutter over the keyway, it is designed specifically to keep dust and moisture out. Older vehicles, with locks which have seen a lot of use, may lose a small amount of ‘spring integrity’. The spring might be weakened, broken or in any case, just loose enough to allow water to enter the lock.
Some Preventative Maintenance is in order. My favorite Stand-By and Go-To solution happens to be – Good Ol WD-40®. (see the post “Lubrication: A Little Dab’ll Do Ya”) WD-40® is a lubricant, a cleaner AND, it repels water.
Almost everybody has a can laying around in a drawer, a closet or out in the garage. It’s a good solution and readily available. So here’s how to apply it to your home and car locks:
1) You can use the provided straw (IF you can find it, the ALWAYS get lost somehow) and spray a SMALL burst into the keyway. It needs to be small, since WD-40® can clean away some of the lithium grease which is necessary for the automobile-lock wafers and linkages inside a car door to operate smoothly.
2) You can slather a bunch onto your key. This is actually the BEST way.
Either way, you will need to insert your key into the keyway and draw it in and out a few times, remembering to turn the key in both directions for the ENTIRE range of the turning radius.
This will put a very fine film overlay on the pins or wafers in the lock and effectively repel moisture.
Here are some Bonus Tips:
1) Make sure you have a rag handy to wipe off any fluid that might drip out of the lock. WD-40® can cause stains on your paint and wood, so clean it off promptly. You should also wipe any excess off of your key when you are done.
2) Depending on the weather conditions, you most likely will need to repeat this periodically through the season.
3) If you do have broken or missing dust shutters on your car locks, it is very important to replace them to keep your locks in good working order.
4) Check the weather-stripping on your car. Cracked, broken or missing weather-stripping can allow water to enter between the door and the car body. This too can freeze into ice and not allow your car door to open at all. Additionally, dripping water can foul or short out your vehicle electronics, such as electric door locks, mirrors and windows. This goes doubly so for weather-stripping on your windows.
So, let’s all get prepared for Winter, winterizing your locks is easy and quick and can save you lots of time and trouble later on. Don’t forget to stock up on necessities before the next “Snowmageddon”!