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Entries in Rockville Locksmith Category

Cold Weather Lock Tips

There’s no doubt about it – this is one of the coldest winters on record. Although we’ve gotten the odd pleasant day, I’m sure you’ve all noticed the nighttime lows – whether there’s frost on your windows or not. Did you know that dropping mercury poses a serious risk to your lock performance as well?

 

As your local Maryland lock experts, we at Top Locksmiths always work hard to provide our customers with the most accurate information regarding your home, business, or automobile lock. Here’s our brief science briefing to explain the effects of super cold temperatures to locks. Thermal expansion is the term that describes the movements of the molecules inside any object due to temperature change. If a metal object is heated, it will expand because it’s internal molecules are moving, expanding away from each other. The opposite is also true. When an object is exposed to super cold temperatures, the molecules will gather closer together and eventually stop moving, causing the object to contract or shrink.

 

Because of the expansion and contraction of molecules, your locks may have been treated rough by the weather lately., You may have noticed locks sticking or posing trouble when you’re trying to turn them. Locks can freeze overnight (or on particularly cold days) because of any condensation or internal moisture. When this moisture freezes onto the tumbler, it can make it impossible to use a key inside the lock. You don’t want to try to force the lock open, because that’s likely to cause even more damage. You can call your trustworthy local Maryland locksmiths, who will be there in a jiffy to assist you, or you can try these tips:

 

  1. Use WD-40 or a de-icer to melt any ice around the lock. Spray in WD40 as a lubricant. Always be sure to have these items handy.
  2. Try using a lighter to heat up your key before putting it in the lock – don’t hold the flame directly onto it, but rather slightly below it. This might require a few attempts to work, but if it does it will melt any ice that’s sealed onto the lock tumblers.
  3. Try dipping your key in Vaseline and turning it in the lock – this might need some repeat attempts, but can be an excellent lubrication method on short term notice.
  4. You can pre-treat your locks with antifreeze to prevent it from being frozen in advance.
  5. Don’t ever pour hot water on a lock because it’s only going to increase the internal moisture already present and cause even more extreme freezing problems when the temperature drops in the future.

We hope that these tips serve you well in taking care of your locks during these winter months.

 

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Safety Barricades

Due to the macabre increase in school based invasions and shootings, there has been a national demand for schools to increase their security and safety features. A strifeful debate has emerged between parents who demand barricade devices should be placed inside schools and administrators who protest this addition. Barricades offer a fantastic secondary line of defense for schools or other institutions in the case of active shooters, and have the potential to save many lives if they are used correctly.

 

Barricades are available in many kinds of sizes and shapes – from compact locks that bolt directly into the floor to wide bars that run along the center of the door. These locks are made custom to be used in the event of crisis in order to protectively seal doors. For example, a barricade could bar a hinge from being able to expand, sealing the door shut, while another can insert heavy bolts into the ground, providing another layer of solid protection. Another design barricades across the entire doors center and bolts into the wall.

 

Some officials protest the wide installation of barricades in classrooms because they are afraid that they will be misused- with the argument that if used incorrectly, barricades could cause more negative than good impacts. The primary worry is that in the event of a fire or natural disaster, barricades could potentially trap people inside the building, preventing their ability to safely escape. Another possibility is the chance of an active shooter barricading themselves inside a locked classroom and causing more harm than they would be able to otherwise if the students weren’t barricaded inside.

 

Although these official concerns have valid logic, there’s no use in trying to imply that they trump the security benefits barricades add to students and workers inside schools – not to mention the psychological impact of barricades putting forward a sense of ease and security to both children and teachers who know that, in case there is a problem, they can simply stay in the classroom and be protected. What do you think?

 

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Guide to Home Security Hardware

Everyone wants a life free from the risk of burglary or home invasion. At this point in 2016, years of labor have been spent perfecting the various types of security hardware that can protect your home. No amount of well-wishing or camouflaging can replace the essentials of home security, and there’s a wide range of devices that can give you the security you need – from cameras and alarms to keypad locks and biometric scanners. In this blog entry I’ll provide some detail to the various types of security hardware and illustrate some of their benefits and drawbacks.

 

Keypad Locks

Safeguarding your home has never been easier – with the wide range of technological advancements made in recent years, your family and business can enjoy heightened security, and you can rest soundly. A fantastic tool to ensure the security of your home is a keypad lock. This will prevent any possibility of the lock getting bumped or picked, since these common break-in methods don’t work on these kinds of these keyless locks.

Pros of Keypads

The chief advantage of these locks is that they are 100% bump proof. By using a keypad lock, you can drop the need of having to carry keys everywhere with you, kindly replaced by advanced technology. Simply come up with your own numerical code and you can enter your home easily after entering in the code that you choose. This high end technology is a top choice for major businesses and institutions to protect their own assets.

Cons of Keypads

The biggest disadvantage of using a keypad is that the code can easily be given to other people – this is a risk with children or employees who have access to the code. Another possibility is that burglars can videotape or watch the code from your hand gestures – this can be avoided by employing two keyless locks – like a biometric scanner pared with a keypad.

 

Home Security Control Panels

There’s many makes and designs for home security control panels that you can choose – they operate as the central communicator and control port for home security systems. This hardware is used in homes as well as businesses, banks, or government institutions. By uniformly controlling alarms, lights, locks and all other systems, control panels ensure that all systems are working in check to avoid any anomalies that might pop up. Many control panels feature sirens and alarms to maintain the private security of any users.

 

Alarm Sirens

This system sounds a loud alarm in the event of any detected forced entry within the vicinity of the system – many alarm sirens are wired through control panels, but you can also instal seperate ones that run on their own.

 

Heat Sensors

Most people have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. For those who want to be extra careful to avoid any sort of fire, a heat-detector would be a great pairing with an existing smoke detector. It can quickly and accurately pick up great fluctuations in heat within your home or business (stoves won’t set it off) and automatically sends notification to local firefighters for immediate response. Freeze sensors help monitor the coldness level in a space – in case a window breaks during a snowstorm and you want to be notified so that you can avoid property damage.

 

Flood Detector

Floods can cause massive property damage. If your home or business is in a flood risk zone, it may pay to install flood detectors in specifically vulnerable areas of your space – This device will notify you if it detects great moisture fluctuations in that area, giving you advanced warning of a flood or leak so that you can minimize any possible property damages.

 

Outdoor Wireless Cameras

Home motoring shouldn’t be relegated to only the inside of the house. By monitoring any outdoor activities, surveillance cameras can catch, record – as well as discourage any attempted entry – any shifty behavior from trespassers – this can both work to help alert you in safe advance, as well as recording proof to verify damages with any insurance companies after a crime.

 

Indoor cameras

Many of these cameras are installed via wireless internet connection and allow you to hook into a live camera feed so that you can monitor the inside of your home using your cell phone. Even if you’re hundreds of miles away, you can have a real-time view into your home, allowing you to catch any potential burglars in the at. Since most home invasion crimes occur when inhabitants are on vacation, it’s wise to install indoor cameras to avoid any of these sort of problems.

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Brief History of Locksmiths

history of locksmith

Just as soon as humans assigned importance and value to material objects, they realized the need to keep these objects safe, secure, and protected. This cultural and monetary need allowed for the advent of the invention of locks and keys. The profession of locksmiths, master of the arts of designing, creating, and installing locks and keys, is one of the earliest forms of engineering of security devices and instruments or history.

Beginnings of Locksmiths

In Ancient Babylon and Egypt, around 4000 years ago, locksmiths created wooden tools that utilized the essential principles of pin tumblrs to prevent free movement of the large wooden bar that would hold doors shut. The pins could only be shifted with the use of a very large wooden key (which was made in the shape of a modern toothbrush) that was placed inside the lock and moved upwards, unlocking the door. One of these ancient locks was discovered in an excavation site of the Assyrian Empire, in Khorsabad City near the biblical city of Nineveh. This lock is estimated to have been created around the year 704 BC.

Medieval Metalwork

The origins of locksmithing can be linked to the profession of blacksmithing. Blacksmiths are engineers that work with metallurgy, forging devices out of steel and iron. During the Middle Ages, blacksmiths were tasked with military manufacturing- making tools of war (weaponry, defense items) for their monarch and leaders. As time passed, some blacksmiths with great skill regarding locks and keys decided to specialize in such – this is when locksmithing, as a specific profession, was born. Locksmiths were skilled metalworkers, blessed with the knowledge of shaping metal to their choosing, and the ability to create by hand a wide variety of original pieces to be included in keys, locks – or tools for filing keys and locks.

Industrial Perfection

As the industrial revolution occurred, locksmiths became a absolutely priceless and necessary fixture in society.  After advanced metallurgy was mastered, locks and keys were created to be much more durable and lasting. Many locksmiths were able to customize, and improve on, designs that hadn’t been changed for countless generations, ages. As industrial mass production became mastered, the field of locksmithing began to change. Cheaply manufactured industrial locks took away the business from skilled individual artisans – splitting the profession into three fields – those who repair industrial locks (twiddling with individual pieces or repairing aspects of factory manufactured locks, those who copy keys for civilians who need more of them for personal use, and those who are contracted out for large security companies who design and manufacture massive security vaults for banks, museums, and governments.

Today, most locksmiths work out of a shop – a central studio where they complete all or most of their work. They utilize hardware meant to interact with doors – hinges, frame repairs, closers, etc) as well as making customized security layers for institutions (creating many layers of locks that protect against forced entry,) or work in specialty fields – such as forensic locksmithing (those who determine methods of entry for police investigations,) or automobile lock experts, who specialize in designing and repairing car locks. It’s pretty amazing to consider how much variety, skill, and expertise exists in locksmithing today – it’s been a long ride since Ancient Assyria, but locksmiths remain a necessary staple of any functioning society.

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The Top Places to Hide Spare House Keys (and where you should NEVER hide them)

hide keys

Keeping a spare house key can be very convenient in case you misplace your main set of keys. Convenience is good – we can all agree on that. However, you might want to ask yourself if the hiding place where you’re placing your spare key is too convenient, meaning that it can be easily found by any criminal or burglar. Please, don’t sacrifice the safety of your home or business for convenience. The last thing that you want is for a criminal to find the spare and easily enter your home whenever they choose. Here’s the best (and worst) places to secure your spare keys.

Best Places to Leave Spare Keys

With a trusted Neighbor or Friend

Your neighbors are fantastic allies to help prevent burglaries. Give your neighbor your spare key. Make sure there’s no information printed on the key that’s linked to your home address. This is one of the most secure spots that you can hide your keys at, as it’s safe inside someone else’s house. However it’s not the most convenient, as you’re going to need to be able to get in contact with the neighbor if you need the key at the spur of the moment.

In a magnetized lock box placed under your car.

The wide majority of burglaries occur during the day, from 10am to 3pm – usually when people are at work. Try hiding your spare key in a magnetized lockable box that’s stuck to the underside of your car. That way, when you’re away from home with your car, so is the spare key.

Under a dog house.

Burglars loathe dogs. The natural protective instincts (and fantastic sense of detective level smell) in dogs have made them an ideal guarding companion for generations of humans. No sane burglar is going to want to go near any sort of dog house. By utilizing the deterrent nature of this fact, you can hide your spare key under the dog house to evade the possibility of it being picked up by a criminal.

Fake Sprinkler

The competent alternative to a fake rock, a fake sprinkler system looks exactly like a real one, and can match any real one already at your house to look like a part of a functioning system. It’s rare that any burglar would assume to look here.

 

Worst places to leave Spare Keys

Wallet

This is such an awful spot to keep your spare keys. If your wallet is lost or stolen, anyone who finds it can likely find your home address (often on driving licences) as well as a key to enter your house as smoothly as you ever do when you come home from work. Simply put: Don’t. Do. It.

Under your Welcome Mat

This is the very very very very stupid mistake that people do, over and over again. Don’t hide your key here. Ever. We promise, this is the first spot that everyone looks.

Under a fake rock.

OK. We don’t understand why these fake rocks are continued to be made. They almost never look real, and stand out like a sore thumb in an otherwise bare lawn or facade. Burglars love these fake rocks.

Under a flower pot right by your door

Again, the convenience that this spot poses to you, can be equally enjoyed by a burglar, who will be extremely happy about how easy and quickly they can enter your home.

 

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Strategies to Prevent Getting Locked Out

lock out

There’s no way around the fact that being locked out of anywhere – your home, your office, your car – simply stinks. It’s a major waste of time, and a major stress boost. However, if you prepare in the proper fashion you’re never going to get locked out again. Here’s a list of strategies key-holders can implement to prevent getting locked out; simply choose which of them works for you, and apply it to your life, to avoid ever having to deal with a lockout.

Check your Purse, Pat your Pockets

Before you leave your house (or anywhere for that matter) check to see if you have all your essential items with you. You want to make sure that you have your phone, wallet, and keys. Depending on how you dress this might be a matter of checking all your pockets, or looking inside a purse, messenger bag, or backpack. This technique prevents forgetting keys, or any items you may need.

Keep a Spare Key

NOT UNDER A FAKE ROCK. We recommend leaving an extra key at a friend or neighbor’s house that you can use in emergencies. If you choose to hide the key on your property, hide it in a very inconvenient place. Seek an area that’s secure or not easily seen. If you decide to hide your key under a plant, or even the aforementioned fake rock, make sure that there are other plants or rocks on your property, so your hiding spot won’t be as conspicuous.

Keep your Keys in the same spot

Don’t simply leave your keys on any random surface. Try assigning a specific pocket to keep keys in so that you can always know where they are. Don’t ever just leave them out in the open, and if you lend them to a friend, make sure to get them back.

Call a Locksmith

If you find yourself truly locked out, you should contact a locksmith. This is an option to be exercised instead of trying to manually break into your door or window – irrational actions that will compromise the future security of your home – not to mention what’s in your wallet. Locksmiths provide a more affordable and rational way to restore your entry back to your property.

Replace Shoddy Locks

If your lock isn’t working properly, you can get locked out even if you remember your keys. Even if a shoddy lock opens and shuts, the continued use of it will damage keys over time to the point of rendering them unusable. If a key breaks inside a lock, even having a  spare won’t help. Avoid being stranded on your porch by making sure your locks work correctly.

Don’t Duplicate ‘Do Not Duplicate’ Keys

The more that you copy keys that aren’t meant to be copied, the farther the copied keys will be from the quality of the original. If you keep copying ‘Do Not Duplicate’ keys, you might realize one day that the new key doesn’t work at all. That’s the reason all spare keys should be copied from the original, not copies.

 

At least one of these strategies should help you ensure that you’re not standing outside helplessly locked out. It’s important to consider any potential security flaws of your home and tailor a specific strategy directly to your needs. Make sure to take the necessary precautions to both keep your home safe, and to ensure that you can access it whenever you want.

 

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What To Do If You Lost Your Keys

lostkeys

The misplacement or loss of keys is an incredibly common household error. It’s often done out of absentmindedness or distraction, and can be incredibly annoying and inconvenient. Here’s a go-plan that you can stick to in case you find an empty pocket next time you reach for your keys.

Establish an Event Horizon

Think about the last time you remember having your keys. Where did you place them? Were you cleaning a shelf and possibly set down your keys in a weird place? Retrace all your steps to see if you misplaced them while distracted. If you remember being out of the house, call the locations you visited to ensure that your keys weren’t found.

Tell your neighbors

By letting your neighbors know that your keys were lost you are accomplishing two things. It’s possible that your keys were dropped on the street or near your door and they were found by a nearby neighbor – it’s good to check to see if the keys were found before taking other corrective steps. Additionally, by letting your neighbors know that your keys are missing – and that your doors are likely unlocked – you are taking a protective step that will make sure that your neighbors will be extra aware of any strange noises or activity around your house.

Replace your locks

If you really can’t locate your keys, you need to get your locks changed or lock rekey by a professional locksmith. Doing this eliminates the possibility of someone who may have found or stolen the keys to gain unlawful entry into your home. While this may seem like a drastic step, it’s important to keep in mind that the security and safety of your home or business should be the absolute top priority in your mind. Find a trusted, experienced lock technician to install your new locks – you will receive updated keys for your doors, and the misplaced or lost old keys will be rendered non working on your lock.

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Great Tips for Avoiding Robberies or Break-Ins

break in

Always lock all windows and doors

This is the first practical tactic that highly increases the security of your home or business. Whether or not your doors and windows or locked can determine if a burglar gets into your space or not. Even if this seems like an implicit fact that everyone understands, you’d honestly be surprised at exactly how many people don’t do this when they leave your house. It’s important to meditate for a second before leaving on whether you have locked your doors or windows, just to make sure.

Use Double Deadbolt Locks

It’s absolutely necessary to use quality, strong, durable locks in your front door – which turns out to be a fairly common point of entry for burglars. By making sure your doors are securely locked, you afford yourself the peace of mind of knowing your home or business is safe.

Keep Travel Schedules Discreet

You don’t want to broadcast the fact that you’re not going to be at home. Oversharing on social media about the details of your work or vacation schedule gives potential burglars the chance to know when you’re out of the house. Make sure to be somewhat private with this information – including not discussing your home location in crowded public areas around lots of strangers.

Conceal all valuable items

You want to make sure valuable or expensive items such as TVs, expensive electronic equipment, art, jewelry, or silver isn’t easily visible to passersby through a window. This can be as simple as shutting curtains or blinds – or moving valuables to a wall that isn’t easily visible from the street. It also never hurts to lock certain valuables that you’ll only need once in awhile – like jewelry – inside a safe.

Make sure sliding glass doors securely lock

Burglars are loathe to literally break into houses through windows even if they believe nobody is home because the conspicuous sound of breaking glass is a telltale signal of a burglary in progress. Glass doors are usually not a point of entry for burglars, but it’s incredibly important to ensure that you don’t leave these sliding patio entrances open a crack or unlocked when you leave your home. Make sure the lock is secure and doesn’t open with a little jiggling.

Get a Dog

Most dogs will be incredibly protective of their human companions – you don’t have to get a trained guard dog, because most canines will start barking loudly when they sense unfamiliar or strange entry into a home. This stranger sensing system is likely linked to dog’s strong sense of smell and ability to quickly weed out a stranger standing outside a home to the human they are familiar with.

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Should old Locks be repaired ?

  should

Older locks that use old-fashioned keys can be aesthetically pleasing, granting a particular ambiance to whatever room they are being used in. Perhaps you want to find a way to use a cherished family memento, or grant a particular old-world aesthetic to a certain room. The determining factor that should help you decide if these locks should be used, of course, is if they work. If older locks are shoddy or non working, it’s possible to take a number of steps to bring them to working order.

Call a locksmith for an estimate

Contact a locksmith over the phone or by going to their physical location and describe the lock to them. Make sure to be accurate in describing all details pertaining to it’s brand type or physical appearance. It can help accurately identify the exact make of a lock if you take a photograph and show or send it to a locksmith so that they can determine if it’s fixable or not.

Next steps.. Replacing Lost Keys

It’s likely, especially if you’re using an antique lock, that you don’t have the original key that it worked with. No need to worry – a professional locksmith should be able to create a new set of keys for you. Oftentimes a broken key will be the reason an older lock is no longer working – a broken piece of it is jamming the inside of the lock mechanism. An experienced trustworthy locksmith should also be able to remove any broken key fragments to restore the lock to working order.

Is it worth it?

The answer to this question should be able to be determined by you – based on the price of the repair service versus the purchase of new locks. However, it should be noted that it’s pretty often that the only “repair” an older lock needs is a simple cleaning and oiling of the inner lock mechanism, not an extensive repair using other sourced antique parts. If you decide that you don’t want to stop using the older locks in your home. it’s absolutely worth it to contact a locksmith and check to see your options. It should also be noted that some older locks are highly collectible and may be worth money, so it may behoove you to check up on the value of an antique lock with a collector or antique store clerk.

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When to Rekey or Replace Your Locks

rekey keys

 

 

 

Although they sound similar, rekeying and lock replacement are separate processes that should be adopted at different times. I’ll first explain how the processes are different, and then I’ll give some examples of situations when each one would be necessary.

Rekeying

Rekeying is a matter of reconfiguring the internal structure of the lock – the tumbler. Locks work through a system of internal rolling pins and openings – only a particular and very specific organization of the internal structure will allow the structure to decompress and unlock. Rekeying is done without replacement of the existing lock – it renders old keys useless, and you will be provided a new key to use with your door. The “wafers” of the lock tumbler will be placed in a new order specific to a new key – while maintaining the look of your door. This is a decidedly cheaper process than total re-keying.

Lock replacement

Lock replacement is a matter of completely removing the existing lock structure and installing a new one. This is best handled by a professional, as it’s best done precisely – and there’s a huge variety of lock types to choose from – including electronic options.

Which should I do?

You should rekey your locks when moving into a new home or office, if your keys are lost or stolen, or if your keys aren’t functioning properly. It’s a common, inexpensive process that vastly multiplies the security of your home so you can have peace of mind.

Lock replacement should be done if your locks are damaged accidentally or through a break-in (I hope not!!) Additionally, your lock might be antique, and finding parts for it to be rekeyed can be an intensive and potentially impossible process – modern locks have a much higher security level than even locks from 20 years ago. Since it’s hard to find a locksmith – or parts – for older locks, installing a new one seems to be a much more simple solution. Reinstalling locks for security is also a wise strategy if you’re not satisfied with the quality of your locks so far.

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