Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Skeleton Keys

One of the first things we noticed when we arrived in Ireland was the ubiquitous use of the skeleton key here.  I had not seen one of these keys ever used, and only on very old doors did I see the classic skeleton keyhole- the old kind through which one could surreptitiously spy on the occupants of the next room.

Here, they have been updated to stay with current key technology.  Modern keyholes are no longer open all the way through, so keyhole skulduggery is much more difficult.  The cuts of the keys are also much more refined, with as many ridges and shapes as the smaller, long-toothed keys we know in America.

This is not to say that skeleton keys are the only ones used here, many doors use the smaller keys we know and love, some even have two keyholes- a small key for the knob lock and a skeleton key for a dead-bolt.  Many locks and doors here use decorative knobs, that is, knobs that don't actually turn an opening mechanism.  Some knobs are simply handles with which to push and pull a door that has been unlocked with a key.  Doors like this are handy for automatic locking- just make sure to take the keys to avoid being locked out.

Our door uses a skeleton key dead-bolt with a decorative knob.  The door to get into the apartment building is of the automatic locking variety, so we use two separate keys to get into our own home.

A skeleton key on a white background
A Skeleton Key
A keyhole for a skeleton key on a white painted door
Skeleton Keyhole
The bolt is permanently locked on the decorative knob
Decorative knob- bolt is permanently locked
The skeleton key with the decorative knob does present one issue for which we were not prepared.  When the door is unlocked, there is no mechanical device actually holding the door closed, so it is free to be pushed open at will.  This isn't a security worry while we are home, but we found an annoying issue with air pressure.  When the hallway door was opened and closed, the pressure in the hallway would change ever so slightly.  This wasn't noticeable by the people in the hallway, but the gentle push of air was always enough to cause our door to push in about a quarter of an inch- and close again on its wooden frame.  This frequent door-banging got annoying quickly.

Locking the door wasn't as much help as we had thought- to our dismay.  The dead-bolt of the lock didn't sit tight in its socket, so the air pressure would cause the door to move and rattle the bolt in its socket a few times, almost louder than the door moving and banging on the wood frame!  Something had to be done, and I know just the man for the job!

Paper is used to pad the dead-bolt socket on the door
Stuffing the Socket
First, we had to pad that socket.  To the recycling box!  What do we have?  Newspaper?  A cardboard cereal box?  Great!  Add some clear tape, and we have a pad.  I simply had to find the correct size and shape of my pad through trial-and-error.  Easily done.

Now what about that door banging on the wooden frame.  Shouldn't I go to the hardware store and purchase some indoor stripping to pad that frame?  Haven't you been reading?  No!  Newspaper, cardboard, and tape!

Newspaper and cardboard pads a wooden doorframe
Padding the Frame
Now, things are just as we need them.  Our door still moves when unlocked, but the pad on the frame muffles the loud banging to a very dull "thump."  When locked, the pad in the dead-bolt socket holds it tight.  It's great to have a rental property where I actually have a good reason to practice my work-around home fixes.

1 comment:

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