What Does It Mean When Your Key Keeps Turning In The Lock?

Key Lock

Of all the odd things that happen with keys and locks, perhaps the oddest is a key that just turns and turns. The key goes in like it’s supposed to, but when you turn, it just keeps going and doesn’t lock.

Depending on the type of lock you have, this indicates a problem within the mechanism that may be due to wear and tear.

Reviewing how locks work

Having a key that continues to turn is a frequent problem with euro cylinder locks. If you’ve had this issue, there’s likely something wrong with the cam.

The cam is a circular piece of metal wrapped around the lock cylinder. Each cam has a stopper that engages at either 90 degrees or 180 degrees. When you insert your key and turn it, the cam allows the locking mechanism to activate. Turning in one direction will lock. Turning in another will unlock.

In other types of locks, the cam is known as a tailpiece. A tailpiece looks slightly different from a cam, but they perform similar functions.

When the cam malfunctions

This is one of the more common causes of most spinning key situations. What happens here is the stopper piece is either worn down or has broken off. 

That means there’s nothing to hold the lock cylinder in either a locked or unlocked position, so it just continues to make the full revolution.

Repairing this would involve installing a new cam.

Improper installation

A bad cam isn’t the only reason a key would keep turning in a lock. As we mentioned installations moments ago, you should know that keys will also keep turning in a lock that is installed incorrectly.

Remember, locks are multi-part devices that require all their parts to be working together to function properly.

To illustrate, let’s say you decide to change the cam. If you get the wrong type of cam for your lock, then the mechanism is going to keep spinning when you insert your key.

Installing other parts incorrectly can also affect your lock this way. This is one reason why you may want to leave the job of switching out parts of a lock or installing a completely new one to a professional locksmith.

The tailpiece malfunctions

We mentioned tailpieces earlier in this blog. These are usually found in deadbolt locks. The tailpiece has a little circular bit of metal attached to the end of it. 

This circular piece breaks off and gets stuck in the locking mechanism. This prevents the lock from catching properly which results in your key turning around and around in the lock.

Like a cam, you can replace a broken tailpiece or change the lock altogether.

The security curtain malfunctions

A curtain is a type of security device found on mortise locks. This is a small circular piece of metal around the inner part of the keyhole. 

This piece of metal can slip due to the buildup of rust or wear and tear. When this happens, your key will also keep spinning in a lock.

A decision to make

When you have a spinning key, you have two alternatives. You can do the repair yourself. Or you can hire someone to do it for you.

If you make do-it-yourself repairs regularly and are confident that you can find the correct part and replace it without damaging the lock further, then you’re ready to handle this one on your own.

That said, if your schedule doesn’t allow this, or you’re all thumbs and fingers when coming to any kind of home job, maybe you should leave the job to professionals.

We’d love to help

We have the experience to quickly determine why your key is spinning and solve that or any other problem with your locks. Why not visit our website or give us a call at 1 305 692 0234?

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