I bought 2 cheapo Reliabilt locking door knobs with keys to replace the existing door knobs/locks on a breezeway (the keys to which were lost long ago) and I'm unable to get the keys that came with the new locks to work.
The lock sets had the same key code, so theoretically all 4 keys should work in either lock, but no matter how I insert the key, I can not get the cylinder to release so it will rotate and unlock.

I had tried the keys before installing anything and regardless of the position of the lock button on the inside door knob, I can't get the lock cylinder to rotate independent of the door knob like I'm used to seeing on working door knob locks.

Is there anything I could have done to shoot myself in the foot, or is it really possible that I got 2 lock sets that have incorrectly cut keys in the package?
It feels like a wrong key, or rather keys, to me but getting two incorrectly keyed door knobs seems highly unlikely to me. But maybe it's not unusual for bottom tier door knobs to malfunction straight out of the package...

I sure would appreciate any ideas as to what I could have messed up.
I've installed door knobs in the past and never had any problems like this and they seem like relatively simple devices, which leaves me baffled as to what might cause this malfunction or how to even begin to troubleshoot and/or fix it. Taking them back to Lowe's and seeing if they have someone who knows their way around door locks or maybe exchanging them for another pair with a different key code might be my only option if no ideas materialize.
TIA for any helpful hints.

  • 1
    Welcome to Home Improvement. Please edit your question for brevity and clarity (and add some paragraph breaks) - you weave the background information into the problem, then bury the question so thoroughly, it's difficult to determine what's what and where the question actually is. I think this boils down to "I installed new door locks and the supplied keys don't work, what should I do?" If that's the gist of it, uninstall the knob sets and return them for replacements that do work!
    – FreeMan
    Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 11:04
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    What does "I had tried the keys before installing anything" mean? Does this mean that the keys worked before you installed the lock and now they don't work? If so, un-install the lock and see if the keys work. If they do not, return the lock to place of purchase. If they do, follow installation instructions more carefully.
    – MTA
    Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 11:51
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    Someone who actually knows their way around door locks would be a unicorn - you'd be lucky to find someone who even knows their way around the store...
    – brhans
    Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 12:52
  • 2
    Misalignment and overtightening can cause binding that could prevent the lock cylinder from turning. Remove one of the problem locksets and test the key/cylinder to see if it works while uninstalled. If it does... your problem is likely binding caused by misalignment and/or overtightening. If it still does not operate while uninstalled, I would say that it is defective. Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 15:10
  • There's nothing unusual in merchandise from any of the big box stores containing missing or mismatched parts. Returned goods are rarely inspected for completeness or correctness before being placed back on the shelves. This is the unavoidable result of their absurdly permissive return policies, and lack of product knowledge by staff.
    – kreemoweet
    Commented Mar 9 at 23:15

2 Answers 2


I can't get the lock cylinder to rotate independent of the door knob like I'm used to seeing on working door knob locks.

Not all locks work the same.

It's not clear that you've actually tried installing and using one of the sets on a door. Do that, following the instructions carefully, first. It might save you a trip back to the store.

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    And if you really can't figure it out. Returning this and going a step or two upscale is worth considering. I've installed my share of drek; the cost is lower because materials and manufacturing are sloppier. I'm willing to try to repair anything, but sometimes replacing it really is the better answer. Even brand new. Especially if you don't have the skills to spot things like overtightening bolts bending the whole lock out of shape.
    – keshlam
    Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 13:04

If the keyed side hole is upside down, the keys prob won't turn independent of the knob b/c there is no downward pressure (gravity) on the pins in the lock, so there is nothing for the key to 'catch on. The knob would have to be installed upside down meaning the latch too would have to be removed & reversed, but this would be opposite the strike plate. You will have to return & trade. They should really have left & right closing knobs so this isn't a problem

  • 4
    Lock pins are sprung and shouldn't have this problem... Commented Mar 9 at 22:12
  • And in fact in many countries (those using "euro cylinders") it is far more commonly n to see locks mounted with pins at the bottom, rather than the US convention of pins at the top. Until/unless a spring fails, gravity is mostly irrelevant.
    – keshlam
    Commented Mar 11 at 5:52

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