If you’ve ever been locked out of your house or needed to get in without a key, perhaps even tried contacting a locksmith to get you back in – then you’ve probably learned about the different types of locks that are on the market today. There are so many different types out there, it can be hard to keep track of them all or describe what you need before they come out to handle the job.
Here’s a quick guide to help you understand the most common lock types:
Pin-and-tumbler. The pin-and-tumbler is the most common type of lock for doors.
Pin-and-tumbler locks are the most common type of lock used on most doors. This style of lock uses a stack of pins and springs to keep the door closed, so when you turn the key it pushes each pin up and out of the way in order to unlock it. As an example, let’s say you want to open a door that has been locked with a pin-and-tumbler mechanism. Your key has several notches cut into it at different depths, depending on which pin they correspond with:
- If your key’s notch is lower than the first pin in this case, then it won’t push any pins up at all—you’ll just hear them rattling around inside as you try unsuccessfully to turn them. However, if your notch lines up perfectly with one particular bottommost part of your key (which corresponds with one particular topmost part), then that bottommost part will push upward against all seven other parts simultaneously (because there are only seven) until they’re all pushed out far enough that they can no longer hold onto anything else inside; at which point everything falls apart!
Rim latches. Rim latches are often found on apartments and other residential doors.
Rim latches are often found on apartments and other residential doors. They’re also used for many commercial doors. The problem with using these types of locks alone on a door is that they are not very secure. When used alone they can be easily opened with a credit card or flathead screwdriver. These types of locks are also easy to break into with a bump key (a type of skeleton key).
Lever tumblers. Lever tumblers are more complex than pin-and-tumbler locks, and harder to pick.
Lever tumblers are more complex than pin-and-tumbler locks, and harder to pick. This type of lock uses levers in place of pins. These levers protrude from the cylinder at different heights and have to be depressed by the key at just the right time for it to work properly. Lever tumbler cylinders are usually found on safes or other high-security locks, but they can also be installed as part of a standard door lock system if you want an extra layer of protection for your home or business properties.
Wafer tumblers are like pin and tumbler locks in that they have a stack of wafers, or discs, with angled cuts into them. The difference is that wafer locks only have one opening where the key slides into place. To open these types of locks, you need to insert your pick into this one small spot on the lock mechanism and feel for grooves in each piece of the wafer stack. When you feel a groove in one layer of your lock’s cylinders, it should unlock because you’ve felt where those pieces come together when pushed by your key.
Disk detainer. Disk detainers use rotating disks inside the lock instead of pins and springs.
Disk detainers use rotating disks inside the lock instead of pins and springs. They’re more common in Europe than in the US, but they’re cheap and don’t require much maintenance.
We hope this article has given you a better understanding of how locks work and helped you identify the type of lock that needs may be installed on your door. We want you to feel confident in choosing the right lock for your home or business, so if you have any questions or need more information about choosing the right one for your needs – or for help getting back inside a locked door – please contact us!