Tech Tips: Troubleshooting A Codelocks Standalone Lock

Aug. 1, 2016
A quick inspection determined that the internal latch spring had failed. The latch was replaced and the lock was again operational.

 The customer called to report that one of the Codelocks CL 5000 units we had installed on his classroom doors was not working properly. He said he had to pry the latch back in order to open the door.

I asked him to please take a picture of the door for me so I could try to evaluate the problem. The image seemed to show a severely damaged door. When latches get stuck, people sometime try to open the door by throwing their weight into it like a SWAT team during a raid. Frequently this fractures the door in the latch area and requires either a new door or a reinforcer.

Don-Jo makes reinforcers for use with standalone locks. For Codelocks, it is their model 23-S-CW.

Additionally there can also be damaged components in the door lock.

Many times the client will let days pass before calling for service, during which time the door will get repeatedly forced and further damaged.

We had about 10 of the Codelocks on classroom doors which were heavily used by students and staff. The school was a leased property, a non-profit, and the building was owned by a church. All of the doors were well used, and when we did initially did the installations, we provided reinforcers on the doors so the locks and latches could be properly mounted.

On the other doors, all of which had adequately working entry knobs, we installed the new locks on the original preps, even if they were less than perfect as long as the door was intact.

Some of the doors were 2-3/4” backset, while others were mysteriously 2-3/8” backset. (My theory was the church’s maintenance man went to a home center to get replacement doors as the old doors died, and took the residential doors which were the least expensive.)

So the picture looked like the screws had been knocked out of the latch and the door was damaged and would not permit a simple reinstallation of a latch. Also I could not determine what the backset was on this particular door.

I find that some clients are willing to take a picture or make a few observations for you, but that’s about it. This particular customer was kept very busy herding the students and managing the staff without making door repairs.   

I prefer to standardize on the products I offer. Once I find one that meets my requirements, I use it consistently. Doing this cuts down on inventory. I’m not a big fan of warehousing spare parts, but I still want to be poised to help out my clients in a professional and timely fashion.

Since I sell as well as install, I use “demos” of some products, and obtained a Codelocks demo mount for sales demonstrations. I also use it to train and learn programming and lock mounting, and as either a loaner unit or to harvest parts from in order to make a quick repair. Codelocks is competitively priced, and they have good telephone tech support and customer service.

Besides the condition of the door, electronic locks have mechanical parts, electromechanical parts and electronics. In this case I envisioned that I might be faced with several possible things to address:

  • I might need to provide a door reinforcer.
  • If the door was a 2-3/8” backset, I would need to redrill it for a 2-3/4” backset to match the door reinforcer.
  • I would need to identify and replace the faulty components inside the lock, and best have both backset latches available just in case.

It helps if you are familiar with the failure modes associated with the device, but with the Codelocks, we had not seen many problems. The biggest issue was the wear and tear associated with locks in a school where things can occasionally get pretty rough.

Because these doors were all pretty lightweight, and the door frames were metal, I had a few hinge problems where the doors would drop and the latches fall out of alignment.

When I arrived at the site, I got a better perspective on what was going on.

Most significantly, the door was really not damaged. The client had actually removed the two latch plate screws and set them aside. This meant that I would not have to provide a reinforce or have to redrill the backset.

Next I determined that the batteries were still good and the electronic logic board was working by entering the user code and observing the large LEDs on the locks control surface.

The latch was indeed stuck and I needed to determine the extent of the issues within the lock.

The Codelock is easily opened for inspecting and servicing. I was able to quickly determine that the internal spring in the latch had failed.

I had a spare latch and quickly replaced it and re-assembled the door.

Fire-Rated Doors

None of these doors were fire rated. If you are dealing with a fire door, then you do not have to get too introspective. You have to perform a fire door inspection, and go through the 11-step punchlist. Please read our June 2013 Locksmith Ledger article, Fire Door Inspections: Opportunity Knocks,, for this checklist and other information.

If you get involved with a fire door that is not functioning or that does not pass inspection, you are asking for trouble and you should simply advise the client of the required repairs and include those repairs into the price of the installation or the repair of the door. Put it in writing and do whatever you can to indemnify yourself and protect the occupants of the premises against the owner’s negligence.

Bringing these things up might cost you a customer, but not taking action could cost a person their life, or cost you your business if you wind up involved in a lawsuit.

About the Author

Tim O'Leary

Tim O'Leary is a security consultant, trainer and technician who has also been writing articles on all areas of locksmithing & physical security for many years.