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Combination Safe Lock Maintenance

The combination lock has been around well over 100 years and is still the number one method of securing a safe door. They are no different from any other ordinary lock in that it has moving parts and should be serviced periodically. What many safe owners do not think about is that the safe can potentially be locked up if this service is not done regularly. Safe combination locks usually have three wheels in the wheel pack, each with a small cutout on the edge called the gate.

When the proper combination is dialed, the three gates link up and the fence drops in allowing the hardware to withdraw the locking bolts. Just like any mechanical device, they can become dirty or worn with use. It is recommended that the lock be serviced every 2 or 3 years with heavy use. If you don't dial open your safe very often, you should still have your lock serviced but it does not need to be done as frequent as with heavy use. If the safe is locked, and the combination lock fails because it is dirty and worn, it will require the safe or container to be drilled open and repaired.

This will require a locksmith or safe technician to drill open the safe. Since the combination lock may be destroyed during the drilling operation, the lock will need to be replaced. This total cost could run hundreds of dollars and will be far greater than having your lock serviced every 2 or 3 years. Periodic service of combination locks can usually prevent the lockup of your safe. The locksmith or safe technician will disassemble the wheel pack, clean the wheels and other parts, replace any worn parts and lubricate the lock, which results in a smoother, more reliable combination lock.

Additional servicing and lubrication of the bolt and handle of the safe are usually performed with the service of the lock. The cost for a locksmith or safe technician to come to your home to perform the service is usually very inexpensive. It can run between $50.00 - $100.00 for a service call depending on the company doing the service and the type of the lock. Make sure to find a reputable company in your area to perform the service.

You can find one in your area by looking on the Safe and Vault Technicians Association website or the American Locksmiths of America website and entering your zip code.


  1. The lock is difficult to dial open on the first try.
  2. The lock assembly is loose.
  3. The combination changes over time. (drops a digit)
  4. Clicking or other strange noises when dialing open the combination.
  5. Tight or stiff dialing.
  6. Crooked or wobbly dial.
  7. As you dial, the lock wants to "spring back" in the wrong direction.
  8. The lock is very old (parts may be difficult or impossible to obtain).