Safe Problem Prevention

By Ken Dunckel
Owner, Safecracker
Safe and Vault Opening & Repair
San Francisco Bay Area nd Northern California
CA License 1985 CA Contractor 553337
The following suggestions can prevent safe problems and unnecessary expense.
Don't spin the dial when locking or before opening.
This is the same as spinning your tires every time you leave the curb. It doesn't "clear" anything or get the lock "in the mood." Dial spinning does increase the chance for breakage/malfunction, and it makes the lock wear faster.
Don't pressure the handle that moves the bolts until the lock is open.
Lots of users put hand pressure on safe handles as they work the lock. Doing so increases the chances for binds, stresses the locks. With time and repetition, this can create some really strange problems.
When locking, don't touch or pressure the handle that moves the bolts until the door is fully closed and the lock is locked.
Same reason as the last one about opening.
Don't stuff the safe so full that you have to pressure the door to get it closed.
This is a very common cause of avoidable problems that will cost you money. If you have so many items in your safe that you must routinely push hard or slam to get the door fully closed, you need to remove a few things, consider getting a roomier safe, or start putting money aside to pay someone like me to come and solve for the nearly inevitable problem you will create.
Don't push keypad buttons (digital locks) with anything but your fingertips.
Pencils, pens, long fingernails, anything beside your fingertips will wear your keypad out much faster than your fingers will.
If your safe's lock is the digital type, change the combination on a regular basis.
Most digital safe locks are user changeable and have alphanumeric keypads, so if numbers or patterns are hard to remember, make the combination a word. Changing a digital combination doesn't cost anything, and doing so on a regular basis spreads the wear on the keypad and prevents unauthorized people from getting usable clues to the combination by way of heavily worn buttons.
Change batteries regularly on digital safe locks, and spend the extra money for top quality batteries.
Learn where the batteries are before you need to. They're usually inside the keypads, but find out for sure in advance.
When changing combinations or batteries, always open the door first and then use the handle to extend the bolts before starting.
Operate lock and door bolts two or three times before actually closing and locking the safe door. This way, if you make a mistake or a problem arises you will still have access to the contents. Battery and combination changes by users on locked safe doors starting points for safe lockouts. Not even us safe technicians are excused from changing batteries and combinations with doors locked open.
Keep the safe door sill clean and move any stored items deeper into the safe, away from the areas where the door bolts need to extend.
The sill and space where bolts extend when locking are areas where bind-related lockouts occur. If your safe's door has receiving well (bolt cup) into which a bolt from the bottom of the door must extend, be aware that this is a prime collection point for dust, dirt, and small pieces of whatever can (and will) find its way in there. Enough foreign material in there occupies the space the bolts need to extend and create locking and unlocking problems.
If the safe door must be slammed in order to close it fully or yanked extra hard to swing it open, get service sooner than later.
This is a safe door that needs attention. It might need a height adjustment, or the hinge pins might be very heavily worn. This type of problem only gets worse. Regardless of how many times you've done it before, routinely yanking in order to open a heavy safe door can give you a back injury.
Have your safe serviced routinely.
How often? Depends on how much use it gets.
Safes in homes don't usually get as much use as safes in businesses, so you can probably get away with having a safe in your home serviced every five years or so.
Safes in daily use in businesses should be serviced yearly, more often if the safe gets opened more than twenty times a day.
No matter what the frequency of use, if you're the regular user and you notice that it doesn't feel or act the same or open as easily as it always did, get it looked at sooner than later.


Note to readers: Please feel free to comment and post your thoughts about this and any of my posts. Don't worry, I'm pretty thick-skinned. Thanks.


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