Attend a home with a jammed lock or where the customer is locked out

What adds expense?

Locked yourself out of the house or got a jammed lock? While it can be tempting to try to pick or fix a lock yourself, locksmith Paul Flanagan from AHL Locksmiths in Isleworth, Middlesex strongly advises against it.

'Trying to pick or fix a lock yourself, or asking a well-meaning friend to help, usually causes further damage to the door, frame or lock,' says Paul. 'Often you won’t succeed in getting back into the house or fixing the lock, and you’ll be lumbered with the extra expense of further repairs.'

Trader tip: Never attempt to open a lock using a credit card as you will damage your card and fail to open the lock. This only works in the movies!

Find an accredited, qualified professional to do the job - Which? Trusted Traders have locksmiths in your area. Read on for more tips from one of our Which? Trusted traders.

Guide prices for emergency locksmith call-out jobs

Prices for emergency locksmithing vary – weekend and out-of-hours call-outs usually cost more and the type, size and brand of lock must be taken into account. Higher security locks, such as those made by Banham and Ingersoll, will usually cost more to open.

A locksmith may also charge extra for travel to your home and, where appropriate, for parking.

These guide prices were supplied by locksmith Paul Byrne from Which? Trusted trader, Alexandra Locksmiths.

JobGuide price

Labour to remove a broken key without replacing the cylinder   £80-£100

Replace a budget Euro-Profile cylinder in a uPVC door   £100-£150

Replace an anti-snap Euro-Profile cylinder in a uPVC door   £125-£170

Lost keys – open one standard mortice lock and one standard rim lock   £90-£130

How can I make it cheaper?

Call a qualified and recommended professional, such as a locksmith from Which? Trusted Traders. You can fix a price and be sure you won’t be overcharged. 'Crooked locksmiths offering emergency services can give vulnerable customers a cheap quote and then charge more once they complete the job,' says Paul. 

Change a uPVC door lock unit, handle or cylinder

What adds expense?

'uPVC doors (plastic doors that are often double-glazed) have locks, handles and cylinders that look similar,' explains locksmith Paul, 'but they’re actually all different sizes. Plus, some units are obsolete.'

Don’t try to buy and change these parts yourself, as you may damage the door. Be aware that retailers will sell gladly sell you a uPVC door lock unit, handle or cylinder but may not refund your money if you unsuccessfully attempt to fit the part yourself.

How can I make it cheaper?

Hire a trusted local locksmith to change the faulty uPVC door parts. 'Avoid using a double glazing company,'says Paul, 'as some will insist on changing the whole door rather than the faulty part or mechanism.'

Change locks at a new property

What adds expense?

The biggest risk and expense is failing to change the locks when you move into a new property. If you get burgled and there is no sign of damage, your insurance company may refuse to pay because you neglected to secure your home. 'This is a locksmithing job you can’t afford to neglect,' says Paul. If you have just moved in to a new home, consider installing a safe for valuable documents and items.

Before hiring a locksmith, ask your insurer what ‘grade’ of lock they require. If the wrong lock is fitted, your insurance company could use it as a reason not to pay out in the event of a claim.

How can I make it cheaper?

'Avoid a costly burglary by changing at least one lock on external doors,' says Paul. A good locksmith will give you advice about what type of lock is most appropriate. Ask them to fit a lock that meets British Standard BS 3261. Windows ought to be secured with key-operated locks in order to satisfy insurers. Read more about locks for different types of windows.

Fix a jammed antique cabinet lock which will not lock or unlock

What adds expense?

'Often, I visit customers who have attempted to force the lock with a pair of pliers or a screwdriver,' says Paul. 'This can cause extra damage to the lock.' Also, if the furniture becomes scratched or dented, there is the added expense of a cabinet maker to repair the damage.

Check the keys for all of the locks in your home, particularly antique keys. A damaged key will jam your lock, resulting in an unnecessary visit from a locksmith.

How can I make it cheaper?

'A good locksmith can pick the lock very easily, without causing further damage to your antique cabinet,' says Paul. Call three locksmiths and ask for a fixed price quote.

Fix a multi-point locking mechanism on uPVC doors or windows

What adds expense?

'Sometimes a multi-point lock can become hard to double lock by lifting up the handle,' says Paul. 'If you carry on forcing the lock, it is likely to jam in the shut position. Repairing this usually means the purchase and installation of a complete lock unit which is very expensive.'

How can I make it cheaper?

'A reputable locksmith will realign the locks and frame points. This is a specialist job but it isn’t expensive,' says Paul. 'Once complete, the lock will be easy to use, with no risk of a jam locking you out.'

His final tip is 'Worn handles on uPVC windows and doors with multi-point locks should be replaced straight away because when they break, you won’t be able to open or close the door.'

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