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PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 4:10 pm 
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I have just bought a new house and two external doors with mortise locks can only be opened and locked by keys from the inside. Very inconvenient as cannot lock from outside. Previous owner, now deceased so I can't contact him, was very security conscious with 5 different locks on every one of 3 external doors. I wonder if he has done something to locks or keys to disable them to prevent an intruder getting hold of keys and trying to enter from outside.

Is there any way I can enable the locks to be opened/locked from outside or should I just replace the mortice locks?

Many thanks in advance for helpful suggestions.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 4:12 pm 
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 4:28 pm 
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Is there a keyhole on the outside - and some other means of locking the door so it can't be opened from outside without a key - or is there at least one outside door that locks from outside?

My thinking is that it might just be extra security when indoors.

Wooden door or upvc?

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 4:47 pm 
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Mortice lock keys have to have a symmetrical "bit" (the part that turns the lock) if they are to work from either side.
I'm not a locksmith though.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 5:40 pm 
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Thanks for your comments. I have 3 outside doors two of which have this problem. The third can be opened from inside and outside. The doors in question are wooden and the keys are symmetrical but slightly more worn on the side that has been used but not enough to make them fail. When putting the key in the lock from outside the key will not turn in the slightest. It is almost as though something is blocking it in the lock.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 5:49 pm 
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williamro wrote:
Thanks for your comments. I have 3 outside doors two of which have this problem. The third can be opened from inside and outside. The doors in question are wooden and the keys are symmetrical but slightly more worn on the side that has been used but not enough to make them fail. When putting the key in the lock from outside the key will not turn in the slightest. It is almost as though something is blocking it in the lock.

Like I say, I'm not a locksmith. I know how a mortice lock works though.
If it's worn, there is a chance that's the problem. When you reverse the key, the wear will be compounded by any wear in the levers (I think :-) ). The better quality the lock the more sensitive they are to anything being "out"
The locks aren't generally too bad to take apart to see what's happening if you're careful and keep the parts clean and in order. Open the lock by lying it flat on a bench and lifting the cover off carefully after removing the screws in the case. Be careful. Take photos!


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 6:06 pm 
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Just thinking about it here, I've had a spring fly out of one in the past.
Wear safety glasses or goggles! :thumbright:



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PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 6:57 pm 
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I have found badly worn locks that can suffer from this and the reasons can be one of several . Firstly there's the physical wearing down of keys and levers so that the key doesn't push the levers as far as they should . I've found springs snapped and even locks bunged up with crap that causes the levers to stick together. Even slight warping of the door can sometimes cause a problem which makes it easier to open or close from one side.
However , when that's all said and done I'd be inclined to change the locks as a matter of course. You never know just how many extra keys have been cut or where those keys might be now. And in terms of cost it would be barely more expensive to simply swap than to spend the time and effort fannying around with old troublesome locks.



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PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 7:29 pm 
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Grendel wrote:
I have found badly worn locks that can suffer from this and the reasons can be one of several . Firstly there's the physical wearing down of keys and levers so that the key doesn't push the levers as far as they should . I've found springs snapped and even locks bunged up with crap that causes the levers to stick together. Even slight warping of the door can sometimes cause a problem which makes it easier to open or close from one side.
However , when that's all said and done I'd be inclined to change the locks as a matter of course. You never know just how many extra keys have been cut or where those keys might be now. And in terms of cost it would be barely more expensive to simply swap than to spend the time and effort fannying around with old troublesome locks.


Hadn't got me thinking head on Grendel!
I was too wound up in the lock itself.
I'd change them as a matter of course too. As you say, no way of knowing who has a key.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 10:44 pm 
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Dave54 wrote:
Open the lock by lying it flat on a bench and lifting the cover off carefully after removing the screws in the case. Be careful. Take photos!


...........and don't get the levers mixed up! :shock:

When I've come across locks where the keys (or possibly the levers) are worn it's often due to the key being attached to a large bunch of keys. The weight hanging on the key when used seems to wear something excessively, my usual procedure (if the lock is tricky to open) is to lift the key slightly when turning and this usually works. I'm not saying this is the problem in this case but just for info.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 10:54 pm 
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just a thought
if the keyhole or wood in the door edge are missallined may stop the key going fully home as its entering at a slight angle :dunno:

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 9:54 pm 
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I thought I had posted this reply some days ago but as I can't find it will post again. Thank you all for your helpful comments and in particular Big-all above.

I decided to remove the lock with a view to repairing/replacing. Having removed the exterior trim plate from the wooden door I tried the key from the outside and it worked. The alignment of the trim plate had been a fraction of a mm too low and prevented the key from engaging correctly. It was too difficult to raise the holes for the trim plate screws in the wooden door by a smidgeon so I used a small diameter circular file to heighten the keyhole and the wooden part of the door beneath the trim plate, refitted the trim plate and, great news, the key operated from the outside.

I then went to the second external door and performed the same operation which again cured the problem. I am a happy man. I am not sure if the fault had arisen by accident or design but the main thing is that it is cured. I have posted this message in the hope that it may help someone else in the future experiencing similar problems to find a simple no-cost solution rather than calling a locksmith or replacing expensive locks.



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PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 11:27 pm 
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williamro wrote:
I thought I had posted this reply some days ago but as I can't find it will post again.


Funny that you should say that, cos I know I wrote I post suggesting that you remove the locks and try them off the door, but when I looked back later it wasn't there. (Probably a cockpit error at this end). It was the reason I asked if the doors were wood or plastic, timber door locks I'm OK with and the locks are easy to remove, plastic I tend to leave to others.

Moving screw holes just a smidgen I find best accomplished with a small sharp square bradawl.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 11:31 pm 
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ayjay wrote:
...........and don't get the levers mixed up!


I don't think that is as much of a problem as it would appear to be.

As said, the key will work from either side of the lock.
A lock has 5 levers.
For it to work from either side there must be two pairs and one single lever

eg. when all is well 12321

The central lever is not the same as any of the others, and the 4 that are left are two pairs.

You have already found the odd one, now you have 2 pairs left.
Place one of the same pair either side of "3" (The odd lever)
Place one of the other pair either side of the pair you just used.
If that does not work swap both pairs around.

So you will have 21312

or you will have 12321

so although you will panic over a set of levers being mixed up and millions of combinations, its not as bad as you think.

Well that's my theory.

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