Entry door lock sets replaced

Pic of corroded door lock mechanism (closeup) Pic of corroded door lock mechanism

Why am I writing about our entry door locks? We’ve had problems with our entry door locks every winter. They freeze up and it’s impossible to get the key in the key hole. Now they are so corroded inside that the lock mechanism barely works the rest of the year. They are less than 3 years old. I was surprised to see the amount of corrosion inside.

I’ve spoken to a few people about our frozen door locks in the winter. The issue seems to be that the house is so tight, that warm moist air inside the house only has one place to get out, through the key holes. One other consideration. Our ERV is set by default to produce a very small increase in internal air pressure. I believe their thought is that you want to be pushing clean air out the leaks, rather than pulling unconditioned air in. But I believe this may be one of the sources of our problem.

I’ve installed new door entry sets and will be setting the ERV to fully balanced to see if this solves our problem this winter.

I haven’t seen anyone else mention this problem, so I thought I would post here and see if anyone else with a passivhaus-level tight home has had this experience.  Please comment below if you have, and what you did to fix it.

Update January 2017


The original lock sets were manufactured by Schlage. The new one are from Kwikset. I like the style better and the push button lock better than the turn mechanism. They seem to be holding up well, but as I mention in the comment below, we now have an HRV which lowers the amount of moisture in the air in the winter. We also haven’t seen the same cold temperatures that we did in the first 3 years.

12 Responses to “Entry door lock sets replaced”

  1. 1 Chris 1-October-2014 at 9:46 am

    Very interesting. Our front door lock doesn’t work very well either, but I doubt it’s the same issue. Our house is tight but not as tight as yours. I have to undo the lock and see what’s going on. I got a special tool from the manufacturer to fix it supposedly. But I am definitely intrigued by your post. What a remarkable problem to encounter. Awesome find.

  2. 3 Wade Stevens 1-October-2014 at 12:49 pm

    I hope you’ve used nothing but graphite to lubricate it, if at all.
    I’l bet boat hardware is less susceptible to corrosion – and costs orders of magnitude more …

  3. 7 Jim Merrithew 2-October-2014 at 7:35 pm

    Hello Larry and Jill,
    Interesting problem. The house is so tight that the only place the air can escape is through the door knob hole. The fact the handle is not insulated would contribute to condensation forming and freezing on the inside of the handle. This might be one of those situations where you decide that, if this is the only problem you have, you will just have to replace the knobs/locks from time to time.
    Would Brass handles/lock perform better?
    I’m trying to remember if you have an airlock. Would that make a difference by buffering the main living space air from the outer door? – Jim

    • 8 Larry 3-October-2014 at 9:11 am

      Hi Jim, good to hear from you. We don’t have an air lock, but we may install a screen/storm glass door that might help create a buffer zone that tempers the cold just enough to keep the lock from freezing up. Another one of those projects on ‘the list’.

  4. 9 wingmother 26-December-2014 at 10:54 pm

    I’ve been watching from the wings here, and while I realize the goal is to create an efficient and tight house – I find the door handle being the only means of air to escape almost uproariously funny, as my house is such a sieve…. Your problems are so ‘high brow’ in my world. But I continue to follow along, intrigued… did Santa bring you a storm door maybe??

  5. 11 Rolf 24-January-2017 at 10:10 am

    I feel your pain. We have the same problem in the house we built 10 years ago. We tried the storm door but only ended up with a white pile of frost on the inside of the storm door and the locks still freeze. I have tried using a rubber dam/washer to try and stop the draft. It helped marginally but did not solve the problem. I have looked and keep looking for good quality lock sets that are made with tighter tolerances and potentially seals, but have not found anything that would work. I even tried electric locks but they leak too. I keep our house under a slightly positive pressure with the HRV because I don’t want a backdraft when I open our fireplace door and I also want to keep the radon at bay and in our area in Saskatchewan there are definitely higher levels of radon which most people don’t even think about but should. If you ever find a decent lock set please let us know.

    • 12 Larry 28-January-2017 at 8:42 am

      Hi Rolf, thanks for the comment. Our old locksets lasted almost 3 years. We’re 2 years into our new sets and (so far) we have not had any problems. But 2 factors are different this time around. First, we replaced our ERV with an HRV last year, which means less humidity in the house. Second, we just haven’t had the same sustained cold that we had the first 3 years. I’ll edit the post to indicate the replacement locksets we used. Thanks again for the comment.

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