How to Prep Your Home Security for Fall and Winter for Under $20

Hard to believe that we are already entering the Fall and Winter months again? During the height of the Summer heat wave, I dreamt of cooler temperatures. Now the colder months are here, it’s time to start winterizing our homes and vehicles.

Rain and low temperatures can wreak havoc on your locks and door hardware. Here are some quick and cheap do-it-yourself tips on prepping your home security for the coming Winter. All of this can be done for under $20. 

Remember, if you have any questions or comments, you can call/text me at 604-363-2760 or email me at Or just drop by our downtown Vancouver Key store located at L21A – 555 W Hastings St. The store is located at the SFU/Harbour Centre – on the bottom floor next to the BC Liquor Store.

Tip #1: Lubrication is the Best Prevention

At least half the calls that Vancouver Locksmiths get from both Commercial and Residential clients could have been prevented if someone had lubricated the locks plus other door hardware like hinges and door closers. 

More so for Commercial clients, as people assume that “someone else” will do it like building maintenance. However, residential clients should be more proactive but they are either 1) renting so it’s the landlord’s problem, or 2) they procrastinate until the point of failure.

Even as a Professional Locksmith, I’m guilty of procrastinating on home repair and maintenance. It’s hard to get the motivation to do it when you just want to relax after a hard day’s work.

However, trust me, when I say that Lubrication is the Best Prevention. For locks and door hardware, I recommend using a small squeeze bottle of Tri-Flow. Most Vancouver Locksmiths I know use Tri-flow as their preferred lock lubricant. It penetrates deeply, is fairly odourless, and is not as toxic as some others. 

While on the job, I have accidentally sprayed myself in the eye with Tri-flow once or twice. First, it goes to show you that we should all wear eye protection on the job. Second, my eye was alright after a generous flushing with water. It didn’t sting, burn, or cause permanent damage. 

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Third, this is why I recommend using a small squeeze bottle of lubricant. Every time I sprayed myself in the eye, it was with a larger aerosol spray bottle. The pressurized stream of liquid bounced off the surface and right into my face. In all honesty, a small 10-ounce bottle of lubricant will last most homeowners decades, if not the rest of their lives. In this case, a small amount goes a long way. 

If you are looking for small squeeze bottles of Tri-Flow, we sell them at our Key Store in Downtown Vancouver located at 555 W Hastings St. It is located at SFU/Harbour Centre near the Waterfront Skytrain Station.

When applying the lubricant, squeeze a drop or two into the keyway of your lock. Then take the working key and spread the lubricant evenly by moving the key in and out of the keyhole several times. Make sure to go all the way in to reach the last cylinder pin. Then rotate the cylinder several times to the left and right.

When you pull your key out, examine the key. If the cylinder is dirty or in particularly bad shape, you will see an oily black residue on the key grooves. In that case, you may wish to apply another drop or two of lock lubricant and repeat the process.

That black gunk is made of dust/lint in the air and metal shavings that form naturally as the lock is in operation. Without lubrication, this gunk will eventually grind the lock to the point of lock failure.

After your lock has been lubricated, apply a couple of drops of lubricant on each of your door hinges. Do not apply an excessive amount. Due to gravity, the excess will drip down onto your floors. Once applied, swing the door 90 degrees open and close several times. This will ensure the lubricant is spread evenly.

If your hinges were squeaky before and they are still sticky after the above step, try applying the same technique to the hidden inside portion of the hinge.

If your hinges are still squeaky, I recommend trying again after a few hours. This will allow the fluid to seep into the metal a bit more. If that fails, it’s a good sign that your hinges are damaged and need to be repaired or, better yet, replaced. Hinges, even the commercial-grade ones, are fairly cheap.

I generally don’t recommend bending cheaper Residential grade hinges back to shape. They are made of thinner metals and metal fatigue has already set it. On the other hand, Commercial hinges are made of thicker stuff and can usually be repaired several times before needing to be replaced.

Finally, make sure to apply a couple of drops of lubricant onto the moving parts of the “arm” of your door closer. As they are installed parallel to the floor, they tend to collect a lot of floating dust and stuff. Lubricating the pivot points will ensure a longer service life and eliminate most squeaks.

Now if you don’t want to come to our Downtown Vancouver Keystore, you can just hit up your local Home Depot. One lubricant I always pick up from Home Depot is White Lithium Grease. It provides long-lasting protection and you can also use it on hinges, door closers, patio and closet door tracks, garage doors, filing cabinets and so on. Anywhere there is metal-on-metal contact.

The brand I like to use is the 3-IN-ONE Professional White Lithium Grease sold at pretty much every Home Depot store. As of the time of this article, the Home Depot store at 900 Terminal Ave had 15 bottles. If you live close to our Port Coquitlam location, the Home Depot store at 1069 Nicola Ave has 19 bottles of this wonderful stuff.

Quick tip, always use the red applicator straw when applying white lithium grease. You don’t need a lot, so aim well and wipe off the excess. You can also use it on lock cylinders. In fact, it’s the only lubricant recommended by the manufacturer for the Highest Security Abloy Deadbolts we install. Just remember to use a small amount.

Tip #2: Vehicle Locks Need Lubrication Too

People often forget that cars and trucks need lubrication as well. For older vehicles with ignition keys, 1 or 2 drops or Tri-Flow will do wonders and keep your ignition cylinder problem-free. Newer vehicles have spring-loaded dust covers that bar dust and lint from entering the keyhole. Older models do not so lubrication is more critically vital.

Other easily accessible parts to lubricate include your car door locks, door hinges, trunk lock, trunk, hinges, hood release mechanism and hood hinges. For these parts, I highly recommend using the white lithium grease we mentioned previously. 

One other part I recommend lubricating are the draft seals for your doors. The rubber draft seals need to be somewhat soft to form a tight seal when the vehicle doors are closed. Without lubrication, they can become hard and brittle. They can also start sticking to the metal door frame when the temperature drops.

My service vehicle is the Mercedes Benz Sprinter cargo van. It’s a great vehicle, but when it gets cold, the rubber draft seal tends to stick to the metal door frame. When I open the door, the whole thing gets ripped off the door. I can easily clip it back in, but it’s annoying.

To prevent this, I recommend using a silicone-based lubricant like the 3-IN-ONE Professional Silicone Long Lasting Lubricant. Currently, the Home Depot store at 1069 Nicola Avenue Port Coquitlam has 40 bottles of this stuff and the Home Depot store at 900 Terminal Avenue has 35 bottles.

I generally don’t recommend using a silicone lubricant on lock cylinders. It leaves a film once it dries which is great for rubber and plastic parts but not so much for metal-on-metal contact.

A final item for the winter that everyone should keep handy would be a small bottle of lock de-icer. Lock De-icer is basically rubbing alcohol with or without some sort of lubricant. If your locks get iced over this winter, just pour some rubbing alcohol onto the frozen bits. 

We don’t even sell this at our Key Store as it does not feel like a great value to us. Just head on over to your local grocery store or pharmacy and you can buy a litre of this stuff for less than $5.

Just make sure to apply some lock lubricant afterwards as rubbing alcohol is an excellent degreaser. Otherwise, your locks may seize up the next time you try to use it, ice or no ice.

Tip #3: Stay away from Graphite Powder

I’m not sure why some people think graphite powder is so great. A bottle of graphite powder is basically a bottle of pencil shavings marked up like 1000%.

First of all, if you really want graphite powder, you can make it yourself at home. All you need is a pencil. I recommend using a carpenter’s pencil as it has a large thick stick of graphite in the middle. After exposing the graphite, create the powder by scraping it with a slightly sharp tool like a dull razor blade or the back of a knife. Do not use a sharp blade it will dull the edge of the tool and not create graphite powder but graphite shavings.

For the final steps, gather the powder onto a small piece of paper, open up the trash bin, and throw it all away because that’s where it belongs. In the trash.

No matter how finely ground graphite powder is, it’s basically dirt and grime you are unnecessarily introducing into your lock. It’s a dry powder – not a liquid of any sort.

Now, graphite powder does have its use – in places outside the operational temperature ranges of other more common lubricants. For example, I would use graphite for the locks at the McMurdo Station on Antarctica. In places of extreme cold, normal lubricants like Tri-Flow and White Lithium Grease may freeze and hinder lock operation. In such places, graphite powder is the better choice as it has no liquid component. 

Generally, if the winter temperature in your neighbourhood drops below 30 degrees Celsius, you should consider using graphite powder or a specialty lubricant with a lower freezing point.

On the other hand, if you are living in Vancouver, Port Coquitlam, or anywhere in Southern British Columbia, stay away from this black powder. In our moisture-rich micro-climates, graphite powder will absorb the moisture and turn into a gooey black mess that causes more problems than it solves. When it starts raining around here, you can tell which locks use graphite powder as it will start streaming out of the lock cylinder in a small river of black goo.

Final Thoughts On Lock Lubricants

The only real specialty lubricants anyone in Vancouver or Port Coquitlam needs are a small bottle of Tri-Flow from our Key Store at 555 W Hastings St or a bottle of White Lithium Grease from Home Depot. If you are living in Downtown Vancouver, the closest Home Depot store I go to is at 900 Terminal Ave. If you are living in Port Coquitlam, the closest Home Depot store is probably the one at 1069 Nicola Ave next to Costco. 

If you have vinyl, plastic, or rubber components like in a vehicle, a good quality Silicone-based lubricant may be better than White Lithium Grease. This too can be found in stock at most Home Depot stores near you.

If all else fails, use WD40 but remember to follow it up with a good lubricant. WD40 has a degreasing component that acts similar to rubbing alcohol. It can cause lock seizures if not followed up by a good-quality lubricant. Plus, WD40 stinks to high heaven. If you apply it indoors, you will be smelling for the next 24 hours or more.

If you have any questions or comments, please call/text me at 604-363-2760 or email me at We look forward to hearing from you.

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