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Lock Slipping Tips

Whether you own a property owner or just occupy it as a tenant, you are likely concerned about security. It can be unnerving to realise the locks to your doors can be easily compromised and make it possible to be victimised by a burglar. 

Lock slipping is an action that many burglars apply in gaining entry to people’s homes and businesses. It is however also a technique used by locksmiths to help those that have been accidentally locked out of their properties regain entry. Some homeowners may even be able to employ the same techniques to do the job themselves to get back in. 

It is a handy bit of knowledge to have as it may allow you to perform the task of unlocking your door without needing to call in a professional locksmith. However, without specialist tools, you may find your abilities limited. Let us delve a little deeper into what lock slipping entails and how to prevent it from happening. 

What is lock slipping 

Lock slipping is the act of unlocking a door without the key or causing damage to the door, night latch, or lock. It is a practice typically employed when people find themselves accidentally locked out of their homes or offices and have a night latch type of door lock. 

It may also be employed when the exterior and interior doors night latch mechanisms are damaged, making it impossible to open the night latch. Such door lock problems are common where the lock is poorly maintained. 

In some cases, the lockout could also involve the key breaking off while in the door lock. The person will then not only need help in regaining entry but also extracting the key and possibly having it replaced. 

This practice is also referred to as lock popping due to the characteristic popping sound that is created when the door lock or latch is successfully pushed in. a piece of plastic is usually slipped in between the door and its door frame before being slid into a position that 

Lock slipping can often be done even by novices on standard locks. With high-security door locks, it may not be possible unless you have special tools as professional locksmiths do and the required expertise. 

If you have a high security door lock, it is advisable to avoid tampering with it and call in a locksmith to determine what can be done to help you regain access. 

How is lock slipping done? 

The procedure is fairly simple and can apply to most types of standard locks including a Yale lock and mortise lockset. Any type of night latch. However, the technique and access to specialist tools are what may be out of reach for most people. 

1.  Find a thick piece of plastic. In the movies, you will likely have seen a burglar use just a plastic card, often a credit card, to open a door. However, this is highly unrealistic as the plastic used is often too weak to do the job. You need a slim but strong piece of plastic that is slightly larger than your hand. It can be in the same rectangular shape as a bank card but ideally as long as your hand. 

2.  Slide the plastic between the door and its frame, just below or above the door lock you want to slip. As said, this is difficult to do when the door and its frame are a tight fit. If there is a bit of space you should be able to get the piece of plastic to slide in. 

3.  Once the plastic has been slid into the gap bring it up to where the latch of the door lock is. Slide it towards the night latch until you feel it can go no further. 

4.  Press the plastic against the obstruction that is the latch as you slightly pull the door toward you. This action releases the pressure of the latch against the door when it is closed and allows for bypassing of the key. 

5.  Repeat the process a few times until you feel the lock slipping. There should be a popping sound emitted that lets you know the technique has worked. 

When is lock slipping not possible? 

Most exterior doors are designed to open inwards. If the door opens outwards, it may not be possible to slip the lock. 

How tightly the door has been fit into its frame will also matter. If too tight, you may not be able to find a piece of plastic that is both thin enough and strong enough to slip the door lock. 

As said, high-security locks are also not easily slipped. Those that meet BS 3621 or BS 8621 standards are anti-slip and will therefore be a good choice if you want to avoid any break-ins. 

Keep in mind that how well the lock and door have been installed will greatly matter. If tightly installed to prevent slipping, you can consider your property to be well-secured. However, even if it is a high security door lock that is poorly installed, it may make it possible for the lock to be slipped. 

How and why locksmiths perform lock slipping 

Professional locksmiths will often apply some variation of the technique described above, besides other methods. They however also make use of specialist tools that make them better able to open different types of locks. Besides specially designed cards, they may also use flexible metal objects and more to pick door locks. 

These skills and tools are meant to help clients that may have been accidentally locked out of their premises. This could be due to forgetting their keys as they stepped out and the door locking behind them due to the auto deadlocking night latch. It could also be they tried using their key but it got broken in the door lock. 

In such a case the client will need to not only regain access but also have the key extracted and duplicated. Non-destructive entry and extraction of the key will allow the property owner to keep using the door latch without the need for replacement. This cuts down on locksmith costs and the cost of having to buy a new lock. 

Some door lock problems are a result of the mechanism becoming damaged and faulty due to poor maintenance. Dirt and grime can build up in the mechanism over years, causing the lock to jam. The door knob and lock may become stiff and difficult to open, encouraging people to leave the door open. 

A good locksmith should be able to fix such door lock problems by clearing the material clogging the night latch mechanism and lubricating the lock so it operates smoothly. This problem may similarly be caused by a poorly aligned lock and the door which may require more extensive efforts to diagnose and fix. 

Why you may want to prevent lock slipping 

Lock slipping can come in handy when you are locked out of your property. However, if it is something that even a novice can easily do without the need for specialist tools, chances are your property can become a prime target for criminals. 

Burglars and vandals are often on the lookout for properties that can provide them with easy access. Those with experience can often tell on sight if it is a basic night latch that will be easy to slip. Properties that are prime targets for lock slipping can be easily and silently accessed by criminals. 

So, while an easily slipped night latch will allow you to quickly regain access to your property in certain situations, it can also make you vulnerable to being victimised. On balance, it is better to work on ensuring your door latch is not easily slipped to prevent criminals from bypassing your security. 

Tips to prevent lock slipping 

The higher the security standard your lock meets, the more secure your property will be. As mentioned, door locks that meet at least BS 3621 or BS 8621 standards are not only anti-slip but also anti-drill and anti-pick. 

These qualities ensure that your property is better safeguarded from criminal activity and less prone to door lock problems. These high security locks may be more expensive, but the upgrade is certainly worth it. Consult with your insurer as you may find certain choices could qualify you for better rates. 

Obstruct views 

Where possible, seek to obstruct the view of your exterior doors. Burglars and other criminals will often target properties that they have managed to catch a glimpse of their front or back door to see if they can be vulnerable to lock slipping. The more out of sight your entrances are, the less inclined they will be to risk gaining entry. Screens, potted plants, and other landscaping may help with this strategy. 

Door installation 

Check on how well your door has been installed and is hanging from the frame. As said, a tightly fitting door against its frame will provide little space for a piece of plastic to be slipped and the night latch opened. It will also make it difficult to move the door even slightly to ease the pressure. Even with a high security lock, a loose-fitting door will create a door lock problem that leaves your property vulnerable. 

Older doors will also likely have frames that have warped due to age and climate changes. the door hinges may also come loose with time. This can result in misalignment of the lock to its strike plate and difficulty when you want to unlock and lock the door. A loose door can also lead to door lock problems as the locking mechanism is not suitably aligned to allow the door to function as it should. 

If the lock and door are not operating properly, it can make it easier to keep leaving them unlocked and thus provide an entryway for criminals. 

When you have trouble with the locking mechanisms, it is commonplace to apply excessive force to try and lock or unlock it. This extra pressure can cause the lock to easily become damaged. This in turn can require you to make a replacement of the entire lock at a higher cost. 

Note that such door lock problems tend to progressively get worse. You need to address the problem as soon as possible to ensure your property and occupants are safeguarded. This may involve adjusting the door within the frame by undoing the door hinge screws. Fortunately, many locksmiths can assist not just with the issue of the lock, but also with door alignment. They can make adjustments or undertake door replacement. 

Install a bottom lock 

Having a bottom lock is a good idea if your night latch can be popped. You are assured that no matter what happens with the latch lock, no one can get in without you knowing as it is not the only lock. A bottom lock is a secondary measure that burglars cannot get past. If you do not already have a bottom lock installed, talk to a professional locksmith to have them put one in. You are assured of greater peace of mind. 

Hire professionals 

If you are locked out of your property, avoid slipping the lock yourself if you have never done it before. This is because tampering with the lock and the door may cause more extensive and expensive door lock problem that requires replacement to be done. You would rather pay the cost of having a locksmith step in and get the job done without causing any damage. Most locksmiths can perform lock slipping in less than 30 minutes, meaning that you will likely pay minimal labour costs. 

Maintain your locks 

When there is a build-up of dirt and grime in the night latch lock mechanism, it is easier for it to become faulty and thus start malfunctioning. This is amongst the most common door lock problems that come from neglecting basic care of door locks. 

Check with the manufacturer’s instructions on how best to maintain your lock to ensure it is kept clean and functioning properly. Most will recommend using a damp rag to regularly wipe down the lock. Avoid the use of harsh cleaners or chemicals as these may damage whatever protective coating the door lock has. 

To help keep the internal mechanism of your night latch working correctly, make a habit of lubricating the door lock, at least every six months. This will keep all the internal parts moving as they should and the mechanism working smoothly. 

Check with the manufacturer’s instructions for what kind of lubricant to use. Graphite powder sprays are a good option for spraying into the keyhole. They will help to dislodge dirt and lube the internal parts. Use WD40 with caution as though it can lubricate, it often becomes sticky as it dries and can end up jamming your lock. 

Tighten the door lock 

Loose door locks can compromise your security. They can also make it harder to unlock and close your door. If you notice you have a loose lock, work on tightening it. 

Check on how the door lock bolt is aligned. Especially after the door has been adjusted to ensure it is hung correctly on the frame. If you find that the deadbolt and the strike plate are not aligned properly, you may need to tighten the fixings to fix the door lock problem. Tightening loose door locks should allow it to get back to working normally. 

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