kitchen and back door/patio Earlier this week, an odd thing happened. The main lock on my sliding patio door stopped latching. It was probably the result of the house settling or maybe the wood shifting around now that we're finally getting some seasonal rain. Either way, it was rather annoying and had been bothering me all week.

This afternoon I got out the tools and decided to fix it. I needed to move the metal receiver that the latch grabs onto so that it'd actually latch again. While I thought that would entail drilling into the metal frame, it turned out that I was able to reuse a previous set of holes (apparently this has happened before) and get by with a little bit of Dremel work.

No problem, right?

Everything was fine until about an hour ago. I had cleaned out my closet and was taking bags of clothes into the garage so that I might drop them off at Goodwill this week. On may way out the door, I gave it a bit of a push and it slid as usual before stopping in the closed position.

You can see where this is going, right?

Well, the funny thing is that just as the door was closing, I thought to myself "that'd be funny if the door locked behind me... you know, because I fixed the lock soooo well..."

Sure enough, when I came back to the door and gave it a tug it wouldn't move. At all. And, of course, it was raining outside. So there I was, locked out of my own house. It was at that moment I decided that I really ought to keep a spare key hidden in the garage.

Anyway, I wandered back into the garage, grabbed a few tools and began to take the lock apart from the outside. Much to my surprise, it was relatively easy to take apart and I was back inside in no more than three minutes.

Happy with my quick recovery, I stored a spare key in the garage, put the lock back together, and began to ponder getting better locks. If I can get in without trying very hard, there's not much to stop a determined person. (Not that I wasn't determined, but you know what I mean.)

Thinking back a bit, I realized that this hadn't happened since about 1998 when I lived in my little house in Ohio. I guess every 8-9 years isn't so bad.

Anyone know a good lock specialist? ;-)

Posted by jzawodn at February 10, 2007 04:28 PM

Reader Comments
# Hagrin said:

After freaking my parents out with the power of a bump key, they went out and re-did all the locks on their house. Make sure that the locks you do use rate high enough that they are bump key proof.

As an aside, being able to break into your own stuff is definitely a good skill to have. A coworker locked the keys in the company vehicle ... while it was running (Ford truck). One driver side handle pull upwards, a metal rod and 30 seconds later I had the door open, the truck turned off and everyone at my job asking "where did the computer nerd learn to do that?".

on February 10, 2007 04:48 PM
# Neil T. said:

You'd better not give any major clues as to where you live then - now the whole internet knows there's a key to your house in your garage :) .

on February 10, 2007 05:15 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

You haven't seen my garage. :-)

Any reasonable burglar would give up looking and just smash the window or door in.

on February 10, 2007 05:42 PM
# Natasha Robinson said:

Ha! Well at least it's every 8-9 years for you. I lose my keys so often that I have become a master at breaking into my house. When I lived in Atlanta, i broke into my house so much that my neighbors stopped calling the cops when they would see someone braking in beacuse they knew it was me... thankfully no one other than me ever broke into my house.

on February 10, 2007 05:42 PM
# Anatoly Lubarsky said:

lol. It happens too much among geks this year:

on February 10, 2007 05:48 PM
# Chanel said:

Why use such ancient technology? How about a keyless remote or badge swipe system? That would rock.

on February 10, 2007 06:22 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Badge swipe? That's hardly new.

I need a retnal scanner! :-)

on February 10, 2007 06:30 PM
# shel israel said:


I no someone who is very good with locks. Why don't you just publish your address and he'll take it from there.

on February 10, 2007 07:51 PM
# Charles said:

Sliding doors are easy to secure. Just get a long dowel and put it in the track where the door slides. Even if someone breaks the lock, the door won't slide open, it's blocked.

on February 10, 2007 08:12 PM
# Chris C. said:

A friend, whose father was a locksmith, once told me "Locks are only for honest people..." while he proceeded to pick a lock to a vending machine with two paper clips.

on February 10, 2007 08:18 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Sure. There's more than one lock on the door, actually.

But if you're walking *out* that door, it's tricky to get the dowel into the track. Though I bet I could devise something that'd work most of the time...

on February 10, 2007 08:18 PM
# Joe said:

Lock & Key Service
2951 Union Ave San Jose, CA
Phone: 408-377-9210

on February 10, 2007 11:23 PM
# Aaron Wormus said:

Locking yourself into the house isn't that bad... what is bad is when you are bringing friends back with you, reach into your pocket to grab you keys and realize you grabbed your dogs license tags off the key rack instead of your house keys.

on February 11, 2007 04:53 AM
# said:


Take a look at this and let me know what you think -

The aggravation of being "locked out" is exactly why we started the company several years ago.

Appreciate your feedback!

on February 11, 2007 05:09 AM
# Philip Tellis said:

Mark Seiden

on February 11, 2007 08:17 AM
# Jason Alexander said:

Too funny! I've done that quiet a few times myself. :)

Honestly, I've been thinking of switching out my locks myself. Call me paranoid, but I saw some articles on lock "bumping" ( and it just freaked me out.

Keyless entries would be very nice.

on February 11, 2007 09:26 PM
# Optional Anon said:

We had very good doors in Spain, big heavy things with a special high security 3D keys and anti-kick door bolts that engages as the door was closed. The door has no handle on the outside, when you went outside you needed a key to get back in.

One day we went outside, I had my key, but my wife left hers on the inside of the door in the lock. I found I could not open the door from the outside anymore - my wifes key blocked it. A few people tried but without success.

Then the locksmith came, I explained the problem and offered him my key. He said no need, and told us to step outside so we could watch. We heard a few loud bangs and the door was open. So much for 3D keys and big reinforced doors.

We got an alarm fitted after that.

on February 12, 2007 04:55 AM
# Dan Isaacs said:

Hmm, I wonder what that house would fetch if it was sitting on plot of land your Condo inhabits...

on February 12, 2007 08:22 AM
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