lolwut? – Seattle's Maple Leaf Locksmith LLC – (206)335-4559

Sometimes doors sag because of negligence

There are many reasons for doors not shutting correctly. Loose hinges, frames not connected to anything, pivot hinges wearing out. Today I encountered one that was heretofore alien to me: negligent installation. There were maybe 30 holes on this continuous hinge and the people who installed it only tapped and installed about six or seven screws, and those not very well. As a result of installing about 20% of the screws the door was sagging and the frame was bent. What screws were actually installed had been driven in at a jaunty angle so that the heads were sticking out and would prevent the door from shutting all the way.

When I saw this I told the building superintendent that this was installer negligence and they should call whoever installed it to fix it for free. The building owner came over and told them that it was normal to only install a handful of screws and to prevent this from happening one should put threadlocker on the screws! That’s the biggest load of malarkey I’ve heard in weeks and I listen to NPR every day.

Continuous hinges are an amazing development and they can last for decades, but only if they are installed correctly. I can’t imagine who would half-ass a continuous hinge installation and if they were going to why they wouldn’t screw in the top ten highest hinge screws. Maybe they forgot their ladder?

That isn’t a strike plate!

The DIY crowd too busy to read the instructions sometimes does things that are just bananas, like installing this deadbolt faceplate in place of a strike plate. The hole in this faceplate is just barely larger than the bolt intended to sit inside it, so it would be nearly impossible to lock this door. Strangely enough, the deadbolt actually worked. Whoever installed this deadbolt measured very carefully!

This is a deadbolt face plate installed as a strike plate. The hole is the same size as the bolt so it is very hard to use this deadbolt.
This picture shows the faceplate of a deadbolt installed as the strikeplate. This would mean that the door must be perfectly positioned to lock the door because the faceplate hole is the exact same size as the bolt. If the door sags or the building settles this will stop working immediately and if the door is locked when this happens it will be very difficult to unlock the door without taking the lock apart.

Read the Instructions

I wonder why the door won’t close?

The thing about ordering locks for doors is that you have to know a few things to minimize labor of installation. What prep is the door? How thick is the door? What is the backset of the lock supposed to be?

Whoever installed this lock didn’t know that there are two backsets for this lock and they ordered the wrong one.

More pictures of screwed up lock installations

I get these all the time. Many of these problems could have been solved if people had just read the directions. Most locks come with installation directions and locks are designed to be much easier to install than they were 30 years ago.

This was on the outside of an apartment building. You could reach through the hole in the door and unlock it if your hand is small.

Improvised lockpicking or bypass tools seen in the field

Lockouts are maybe my favorite part of my job. Everybody is very thankful when you unlock their door. They are often the most comical part of my job, too. I’ve started collecting pictures of the implements scattered outside of people’s doors when they have given up and called me out. Here are a few of those pictures.

Improvised lockpicking tools. Lock manipulation using these tools was unsuccessful.

First, this person fashioned a tool out of a hanger taped to a serving spoon. I was told that the potato masher wouldn’t fit under the door so was not included in this contraption. The customer reported that these tools were all fashioned with the intention of moving a backpack containing room keys closer to the door and trying to get the keys out.



This picture is from a frat house at UW. The customer reported that the only brother with lockpicking experience was out of town. The doorknob was a simple defiant

More tried and true, less inventive improvised tools

and easy to pick, but even with hours of attempts with these tools successful manipulation evaded these hapless Greeks. Members of collegiate fraternal organizations at my alma mater, WSU, would no doubt have kicked the door in or broken the doorknob off with a hammer. If these differing approaches are extrapolated as life-guiding philosophies, which do you think will lead to more success? Regardless of the answer, I hope that people will continue to choose me in their time of need.