My house has a detached garage and occasionally the lock gets frozen during a winter storm so that I cannot insert my key to unlock the door.

I have plenty of methods to open the lock after it is frozen. I have used graphite powder to free up the lock and I have heated the key and inserted it to melt the ice.

I am looking for a solution to prevent the lock from becoming frozen in the first place. I have tried keeping it lubricated with graphite powder before the winter storm and also opening the door more frequently during the storm in order to not have it freeze from going unused. All of these failed to prevent the lock from freezing.

How can I prevent my lock from freezing during a winter storm?

  • 1
    Do you use any types of lubricants in it by chance? Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 20:42
  • I have a lubricant that I use to help thaw it out but it delays me a few minutes in the morning on my way to work. I only do this after the lock is frozen.
    – liebs19
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 20:43
  • What kind of lubricant is that? I think that's important for getting correct answers. Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 20:46
  • I was able to find the fluid type. It is a graphited lock fluid.
    – liebs19
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 20:57
  • you must live in a cold region ;)
    – WayneEra
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 7:55

9 Answers 9


There is a couple tried and true methods used of varying difficult from living in AK and ND.

1) Install a storm door. This will provide other additional benefits as well. Should have no frozen up key lock issues after that. $80 to hundreds of dollars, much easy to install yourself than a framed door.

2) Go to a keyless lock. $60 to hundreds. Just keep in mind they use batteries.

3) Use a rubber fruit preservation cover for the door knob to cover the lock. They sell them at the grocery store and online but you need one door knob size but that will also slip on and not come off and last. $5-15, May not work for all doors / knobs. Some lock smith shops also sell one designed for locks. If you are handy you could also make your own using the tool coating rubber they sell at hardware stores (but don't build it on the knob!!!!!).

4) Modify a winter outdoors spicket / water faucet cover to place over door knob.. This does though usually involve adding a sticky hook to the door so the covers nylon or rubber cord can attach to something. I recommend the plastic coated ones, not just the foam ones. $3-$6

5) 1/4,qt Ziplock Freezer Bag and a thick rubber or nylon cord that locks like the baby cabinet lock ones. You will have to replace the bag regularly.

6) For a frozen lock I use mini zippo lighter fluid containers as the tip works well for inserting into lock and it's nearly instant. Otherwise I use the containers refilled with isopropyl alcohol, but it's not quite as fast. (See note below)

Other Notes: WD-40 , as recommended by others isn't a as reliable I personally find for frozen situations. Those lock deicers are just isopropyl alcohol ( $1 for 12oz vs $3 for 1 oz ) in a nice dispenser. I would not heat a key up, you weaken it and if it has a chip you could damage or destroy it. Duct tape or other gummed adhesive may clog the lock creating bigger issues, it tends to also be brittle at colder temperatures and not stay on.

Important : lighter fluid, alcohol, and WD-40 are flammable and can damage paint as well as de-lubricate locks (WD-40 is a solvent not a lubricant), resulting in other issues with the lock and / or other property or personal damage.

  • I have a storm door in place but my lock still freezes on the outside.
    – Bonnie P
    Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 13:15
  • 2
    Batteries will also freeze up and stop working at low temperatures.
    – Stan
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 15:43
  • The W and D in WD-40 stands for Water Displacement. Its initial design was to get rid of water and moisture. Using it will displace the moisture when above freezing. Isopropyl alcohol contains water and it will refreeze.
    – Stan
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 15:50

Spray some WD-40 in the keyhole and insert/remove the key a few times. Never had an issue after doing that.

If you're looking for extra protection against rain/show/ice, use duct tape to cover the keyhole. Anything that keeps rain/snow/ice from entering the opening will be a plus.

  • Is this to prevent freezing from cold weather and winter storms or just for general lock maintenance and to keep it working smoothly?
    – liebs19
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 21:13
  • @liebs19 Both. I try to do this biannually: early fall and late winter.
    – Mooseman
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 21:14
  • 1
    WD-40 is a superhero
    – WayneEra
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 7:57

It depends on the lock and the reason it freezes. Some locks just come stuck when they get cold, but most get stuck because there is some liquid in them (like from the snowstorm) that then expands and makes the lock stuck.

In this cases it has helped me a lot to put something over the lock. Like use some leather or thick! cloth and attach it (e.G. nail it to the door above the lock) so that the lock is covered. The better the cover the more it will help.


Keyless locks are a good investment but mine were prone to freezing.

Another consideration - sufficiently cold enough temperatures can reduce the effectiveness of the batteries that reduced power output prevents the locks from opening.

My door lock thawing cure is to use an ordinary hand-held electric hair dryer to apply heat to them. Thankfully, it is a snap and can be done from inside the warm building.


Take a rubber ball a little smaller then the handle and cut a hole in it and clip it over the handle.

  • 1
    How do you clip it? Surely it will just fall off.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 9:36

I'm not able to seal off the door knob to prevent air from passing through the lock/knob (Which creates the frost/ice build up); so I now use an magnetic electric oil pan heater and have it attached to my door to prevent frost build up. My door is metal, so the heater sticks and I put it on a timer, so that its not running all the time.


A built-in lock can be defrosted by pouring heated non-freezing liquid into the keyhole, such as the car antifreeze or windshield cleaning liquid. Then when the door is open, you can think of changing the lock to an external type.

For an external or handheld type of lock (the one that is not inside a door, but outside of it), theoretically, you could submerge the whole lock into a liquid that has a very low freezing temperature, so low that it actually won't freeze at all during the winter. But be careful with the chemical composition that may damage your lock.

Normally, you could just heat the lock up by burning pieces of paper under it for some time.

  • It sounds like he is talking about a lock built into a door, not a hand-held lock. You may want to consider revising your answer. Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 14:08
  • added a solution for built-in lock Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 16:18

WD-40 or liquid wrench used to sell a lock spray that had banana oil in it. It worked great - my car door locks never froze again - but they stopped making it. So I'm going to try straight banana oil this winter. If it doesn't work, at least the aroma will make me think I'm somewhere tropical.


Spray through the lock with WD40 to displace any water then get a syringe and squirt some 5w30 into the lock. 5w 30 should keep any moisture out and is rated to -35c (-31f). This should be sufficient for a lock. If you run warm water from the kettle over syringe it will help thin the oil down so it can be applied easier.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.