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We've got a deadbolt that decided to stop working today. When we turn with either the key (outside) or the lever (inside), the deadbolt moves about 1/2", but no more. It does not retract all the way inside the door, and therefore we can't get the door open.

It's not jammed or frozen, as the movement seems fluid, just not far enough. What would cause this, and how might I go about fixing it?

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2 Answers

Ever notice how it was a little difficult to lock and unlock that deadbolt over the years? The stress placed on the bolt from the poor alignment with the frame has caused the bolt to break. Unscrew the lock from behind, manually scratch the bolt back to open the door. Replace the bolt, file the strike.

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It's a brand new house and a brand new lock. We've only lived in this place a month. –  Chase Florell Feb 20 '13 at 2:55
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You'll have to remove the dead bolt and thumb turn mechanism in order to inspect it. It could just be gummed up in which case it needs to be cleaned and lubricated, but also common is someone forcing the lock and bending a component. If bent, you can try and straighten whatever is bent with a pair of pliers, but if it bent that easily it is probably a low-end deadbolt in which case it's probably better to replace it. A locksmith can key a new deadbolt to your current key if that is a concern. There might also be debris lodged in the mechanism which can be removed.

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I'm definitely thinking it's a low end lock. We've only lived in this house for a month, and we're the first to live in it. Brand new build. –  Chase Florell Feb 20 '13 at 2:57
    
My advice is always to go get a high-security deadbolt (Medeco, Mul-t-lock) –  Steven Feb 20 '13 at 3:26
    
You're probably right. This is a rental, so it wasn't my call. I'm just wondering if I can fix it, or if I need to call someone. I just don't want the hassle of calling it in if it's fixable. –  Chase Florell Feb 20 '13 at 3:43
    
If it's a new build, I'd call back the contractor. –  Chris Cudmore Feb 20 '13 at 15:11
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