Safe Problems, Safe Solutions

Safe Dialing Problems

This will be a short one . . .

If you have a safe with a mechanical dial and it won't open when you dial the combination correctly, the settings in the lock might be just a little bit off.

The key to this is "when you dial the combination correctly." You can dial the correct combination numbers for a month and never get the safe to open if you dial them incorrectly.

Here's the tip: Try dialing the numbers you know one number high on all the settings.

In other words, if your combination is 10-20-30, then a final turn, try dialing 11-21-31, and make the final turn.

If dialing high doesn't work, try the opposite. Dial the combination one number low on all settings. A combination of 10-20-30 with a final turn would become 09-19-29, then make the final turn.

Should either of those tactics work, don't lock the safe door again until after a safe technician has a look at it and has reset and tested the combination.

Yes, this will cost money, but believe me, it will cost a lot more if you keep using a distressed safe lock and it finally stops responding to dialing high or low.

In some cases safe technicians will not only do the "plus one, minus one tactic, but also plus/minus two or more numbers, as well as other variations on this theme.

Safe techs who spend time applying more complicated dialing tactics of this type are well-versed in lock diagnostics, however. Beyond plus/minus one or two settings, this sort of thing gets very tedious and confusing for safe owners who aren't experienced with safe lock behavior.

For best results, hire a pro.

To repeat, the tactic described here has no chance of working if you don't apply it with the correct dialing sequence. (See "How To Dial A Safe Combination")

Ken Dunckel
CA License 1985
CA Contractor 553337


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