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Showing posts from January 25, 2009

How To Dial A Safe Combination

"I have the combination but it doesn't work."

Judging from how many people who have trouble with them, mechanical safe combination locks have to be some of the most non-user friendly devices ever invented.

Along with the “how much is my old safe worth?” question, “I have the right numbers but they won’t work” ranks right up there among the most frequently heard safe problems.

Please bear with me here. I promise, I will explain dialing in this session. But you probably need to read this if you're here because you're trying to dial a safe combination.

The percentage of intelligent and literate people who are unable to dial a safe combination without extensive coaching is amazingly high. I hear from them when they can't get the thing to work after repeated tries. They think of themselves as intelligent beings, so it must be that either the numbers are wrong or the lock is broken.

The hardest thing for most of the people I coach on the phone is to actually li…

Solving Safe Problems . . . More Simple Solutions

Electronic Safe Lock Just Won't Open
a) You know the combination is correct
b) You know the battery is the right kind and it's fresh

Sometimes it's super simple: Have you ever parked your car with one of the wheels hard againnst the curb? Sure you have.

Remember how you had to twist the steering wheel hard to take the pressure off before you could even turn the ignition key? That happened because the pressure of the front wheel against the curb put pressure on the steering system, including the steering column lock.

Result? Ignition key won''t turn until you relieve the pressure.

Something very similar happens with safes, and especially safes with certain types of digital/electronic locks. Users either stuff them so full that they have to give a shove before the door will close fully, or don't notice when something inside the safe gets in the jamb before they close the door.

Either way, this prevents the door bolts from extending all the way to lock fully. This in tur…

Safe Problems: More Simple Solutions

Safe Lock Problems
Electronic/Digital Safe Locks

At least once a week, but usually more often, someone calls and tells me their safe's push-button combination lock won't open when they enter the combination.

When asked, they're positive they have the correct combination.


The Most Common Solution:
Try a new battery first (or batteries, if your lock uses more than one). The best and perhaps most easily available batteries for electronic safe locks will be Eveready Energizers or Duracell.

Other battery brands might be just fine for plenty of other battery-powered items, but trust me on this, in a safe lock you want to use either the Energizer or Duracell brands.

Did I say "new" battery? I'm pretty sure I did. Don't be a dummy, okay? Quite often after telling a caller to try a new battery they call back and report that a new battery didn't do the trick, can I please hurry over and get their safe open?


When I arrive, it often turns out that one of two things …

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, b…