If you have a lock cylinder that spins around 360 degrees or more when you try to lock or unlock it, you can’t pull your key out, or you pulled the cylinder out
with your key then chances are that the retainer cap pin sheared off. This is fairly common with Baldwin and Emtek deadbolts. For some reason the engineers that designed the lock cylinders for these two respected manufacturers designed the retainer cap pin to be thinner than the one used in Schlage locks and their knock-offs, so it is easier to wear through the pin. One would think that since both of these manufacturers offer lifetime mechanical warranties, they would design their lock cylinders more robustly so that they wouldn’t wear out.
If you are unlucky, not only is your door still locked but your lock cylinder came out of the lock and little tiny brass objects and springs fell out onto the ground. You may be reading this on your cellphone, scratching your head as you look between these words and a distressing hole in your deadbolt.
You came here to find out what to do if this happens, so here it is: if you have another locking door, use that one until the other lock gets fixed. Your broken lock is still secure if the cylinder didn’t come out, actually more secure than before it broke since somebody picking the lock would be unable to unlock it. If you have a different locking entrance you have time to call the manufacturer and demand they mail you a new cylinder cap retainer pin. Most lock manufacturers have a mechanical warranty of some kind so it’s worth it to call and find out. They may not even ask if it is under warranty still, they may just mail you new parts. If you are mechanically apt you can replace this spring loaded pin yourself by taking the lock off the door and taking the cap off the cylinder and replacing the broken pin with the new one.
If the broken lock guards the only entrance to your property, that’s trouble. Your lock is broken in such a way that in all likelihood it can’t be manipulated open by even the most skilled locksmith. The lock and door must be circumvented, or the lock must be drilled. A good locksmith will drill the cylinder out and retract the bolt and then offer to replace the cylinder. A mediocre locksmith will drill the entire lock off of the door and offer to replace it. A terrible locksmith will drill the lock and demand lots of money and then leave. The good news is that if the lock is a Baldwin or Emtek lock, they will usually still warranty the lock even if it is drilled off of the door since the whole problem was caused by a mechanical fault.
Now you may be interested why this happened. The most likely cause of this cap retainer pin shearing off is that more force is used to unlock the door than it was designed for. This is probably because either somebody who uses the deadbolt is really strong and exuberant, or the deadbolt strikeplate is misaligned for some reason. To lock or unlock a deadbolt in the latter situation extra force must be used, perhaps while pushing or pulling on the door. This is because:
- The lock wasn’t installed correctly
- Insulation was installed after the lock was, putting too much pressure on the door when it is closed
- The door and/or frame is sagging
- The door and/or frame has expanded due to moisture in the air
To prevent this from happening again, the deadbolt must be reinstalled so that the bolt slides smoothly in and out of the doorframe. A minimum of force should be exerted on the deadbolt to lock or unlock the door. Any extra force used is focused on the cap retainer pin which will shear off again in the same fashion if this issue isn’t addressed. I can ensure that the lock is properly installed to prevent this issue from reoccurring.