Mortice Locks and Mortice Lock Locksmiths

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What is a Mortice Lock?

Before the development of the euro cylinder in the early 1800s and their subsequent gradual increase in popularity, most, if not all, doors would have had a traditional mortice lock fitted.  Mortice locks date back centuries – I’m sure we’ve all seen those big ornate locks and keys in museums and stately homes.

Whilst there are many brands of mortice lock, ultimately there are two types:

  • Sash lock which has a handle built into the lock or
  • Deadlock, no handle, so you would need to fit a separate handle if required

It is common to hear both types of lock referred to as “Chubb locks”, this is like calling a vacuum cleaner a Hoover or a ballpoint pen a Biro and the reason is the same, Chubb is one of the founding brands of lock, however not all mortice locks are Chubb. In actual fact, Chubb has not made the locks for years, and most Chubb marked locks in use now were made by Assa Abloy, and in recent years have been rebranded as Union.

Some common faults other than lost keys are:

  • Firstly check its the correct key!
  • Broken Talon or Moved Turntable. These are different faults however in both cases the key turns but the lock doesn’t open.
  • Key won’t open the lock – Mortice locks often last many years so the parts can simply wear out with use.
  • Keeping a key in the lock all the time can cause the key and levers to wear, meaning other keys may stop working.

As a rule of thumb – if your key becomes difficult to use or the handle starts to become loose then it’s probably time to get the lock replaced. This will avoid the inconvenience of the lock failing and getting locked out or locked in. we all know that this thing usually happens at the most awkward time possible!

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Is your mortice lock insurance approved?

Mortice locks have been around for such a long time that the standards have changed a few times since they were first fitted into homes and businesses. We often come across old locks that are not British Standards approved and therefore are unlikely to comply with any insurance requirements and people are not aware. Mortice locks need to meet British Standard 3621 in order to be considered good enough for home security today. Mortice locks that conform to the new standard  (BS3621) will have longer bolts, more levers, hardened cases and curtains to prevent manipulation of the levers from the keyway. The forend of the lock should be stamped with a BS kite mark. This will normally include what revision the lock is. So if it’s stamped BS3621:1998 this indicates that the lock conforms to the British Standard at the year 1998. Occasionally an insurer will stipulate which revision of the British Standard is required. It is important to check what your particular insurer requires as anything less may invalidate your policy – leaving you out of pocket in the event of a break-in.