Why Your Key Keeps Turning in Door Lock

Chuck Williams

November 29, 2022


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Are you faced with the odd situation of turning the key inside the lock, but find that the key keeps turning in door lock without locking or unlocking it? This is never a pleasant situation to be struck with, as it disrupts you from being able to enter or secure your house. After some wrestling with the lock, you might end up being able to lock or unlock the door, but will you be able to do so next time?

The concern skyrockets if the malfunctioning lock is located on an exterior door. This opens up the risk of being stranded outside your house or being unable to lock your door. Neither of scenarios work in your favor at all! Additionally, hassling with your key to make the locking operation work is not recommended either, as it can risk breaking the key.

Hence, it is only for the best to resolve this issue as soon as you can. The reason why your door lock keeps spinning most likely stems from loose or damaged components, which either need to be tightened, repaired or even replaced entirely. Read on to find the clues for the culprit and resolve the issue for once!

Damaged Tailpiece

Locks have intricate inner mechanisms that work together to actuate the lock upon the right key being inserted. Also known as a turnpiece or tailbar, a tailpiece is a crucial part of that process and it is often found in Yale locks. It is a long, slender metal piece which extends from the external side of lock cylinder throughout the door. It is connected between the thumb latch and lock deadbolt. As such, when the key is turned, it also turns to activate and deactivate the door lock.

As it plays such an important part in the locking and unlocking process, if it suffers damage or has its linkage weakened or severed, the result can be the issue of the key that keeps turning in the lock without actually engaging the lock. A faulty tailpiece would most likely require a replacement. However, carrying out this procedure can be a bit complicated.

First of all, a tailpiece that is the perfect fit for your lock has to be bought for replacement. It must be ensured that it is compatible with the lock and its structure, since the tailpieces vary greatly depending on the lock. Their size, length, etc. can differ, which needs to be taken into consideration based on the lock in question.

Faulty Cam

A cam serves the same function as the tailpiece, except it tends to be found in euro cylinder locks. While cam and tailpiece sometimes can be found to be used interchangeably, both are actually distinct components even if they fulfill the same purpose of playing a crucial role in actuating the lock. A cam is a metal or hardened plastic piece found in the center of the cylinder. Upon the rotation of key to lock and unlock the door, it also rotates accordingly and engages the lock bolt to extend or release.

Your lock may have a damaged cam, which would result in greatly disrupting the expected locking operation. Hence, a damaged lock cam can be another reason why your key spins, but the lock does not engage. This faulty component would require replacement, but similarly to the tailpiece, it also needs to be carefully selected according to your lock.

The cam design can vary greatly based on the locks it is the best fit for. A wrong type of cam would not be able to engage the lock, which can also result in your key continuously turning. Hence, if your issue is occurring straight after a DIY door lock installation, then choosing a faulty cam can be a potential cause behind a door lock that keeps spinning.

Loose Door Handle

Has your door handle been feeling wobbly recently? It seems to have lost its firm attachment to the door, and maybe it even spins around similar to the key aimlessly spinning in the lock. And perhaps you have been shrugging it off as a minor nuisance, but you may be shocked to learn that your loose handle can be a plausible issue behind the door lock that keeps spinning.

A loose handle can cause disruption in the lock being able to be operated properly through the key. The loose connections due to the door handle can be not allowing the key to engage the lock. Hence, a loose door handle is not just an annoyance along with being a serious inconvenience like the handle being completely useless if left to deteriorate, it can also affect the key from operating the lock.

So it is best to stop neglecting that handle wobbling around and get to tightening it right up! A DIY solution to disassemble the handle and tighten its screws can work, but keep in mind that it can be a bit complicated for someone with no experience! Generally, you would have to unscrew the handle and then remove the base to gain access to the set screw, which is a procedure that can get more complicated than thought.

Loose Cylinder Set Screw

If you are noticing that it is not just your key spinning, but also the cylinder, then there is surely something amiss with the door lock cylinder. The looseness of the cylinder is likely to disrupt the key turning in your lock properly, causing the issue of the key that keeps turning in door lock. This is certainly among concerning issues within the lock mechanisms that should be resolved promptly.

The issue most likely stems from the cylinder set screw being loose. You would have to disassemble the lock and then tighten up the screw set. The process may vary a bit depending on the lock type and structure. However, generally, the faceplate would need to be removed, which would usually expose the set screw of the cylinder. By using a flathead screwdriver, you can tighten up the set screw, as well as replace any worn and rusted screws.

Alternatively, the cylinder may have worn down to the point that it needs to be replaced. However, the procedure for replacing it may be more complicated than your expectations. The cylinder measurements must be exactly the precise fit for your lock. This can be a bit tricky to get exactly right. If you get a misfit cylinder, then it would be useless for your lock. Hence, it is best to leave procedures of this sort to professional locksmiths.

Hand turning a key in a door lock

Troubled by Your Key Keep Turning in Door Lock? Let Us Help

Is your day being disrupted by a key that keeps turning in door lock, which is going nowhere with unlocking or locking your door? What a troublesome situation! The issue likely comes from a component that has grown loose or has had its linkage weakened or severed, e.g. the cylinder, tailpiece, cam, door handle, etc.

While the fix may seem straightforward, attempting to sort it out on your own can easily go wrong. Due to how intricate the inner workings of locks are and how their structures can differ depending on their types, replacing or repairing the issue on your own can be time-consuming and futile.

Fortunately, you can call a locksmith to fix your lock in no time! Our Scugog locksmiths can inspect your lock and conduct any needed repairs, as well as procure the exactly right replacements for your lock in order to get it back to working smoothly and reliably.

Safeguard your property with our expert locksmith solutions. Get in touch with our approachable, knowledgeable team.

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