How to Prevent a Padlock from Rusting

There are few things as annoying as a rusted padlock. Whether it is on a storage building in your yard or a remote road gate, it is never any fun to spend time dealing with a lock that refuses to open. Worse yet, corroded locks seem to have the most problems when you are in a hurry. Fortunately, keeping your locks from corroding is not difficult. With a few simple steps you can keep them working like new.

In areas that do not commonly experience freezing temperatures, any type of oil can be used to keep the lock working smoothly. However, you should only spray silicone lubricant or graphite into a lock that will be exposed to freezing temperatures. Once the lubricant is in the lock, operate the lock a few times with the key to work the lubricant throughout the mechanism. If the lock is a combination lock, lube the dial(s) and tune them to work the lubricant into the lock’s mechanism. Whenever it is possible, cover the lock with something waterproof to prevent rain and snow from directly striking the lock. The moisture on the lock will both prevent corrosion and work to wash away the lubrication. By keeping the lock dry, a lot of problems can be prevented. Don’t allow the lock to sit unused for long periods of time. Even if you have no reason to open a lock, doing so will help it to stay free from corrosion and give you another chance to add some lubrication to the lock.

If the lock is already rusted and will not open, use penetrating oil such as WD-40 or PB Blaster to open the lock. You may need to let the lock sit for some time to allow the oil to work. In the case of a badly rusted lock, spray the lock and allow it to sit overnight before attempting to open it. When you do get the lock open, use steel wool or sandpaper to remove any obvious corrosion and lubricate the lock. Though padlocks are designed to resist cutting, they can be cut off fairly quickly with a hacksaw or with large bolt cutters. If the lock is in bad shape, cut it off, throw it in the recycling bin and replace it. For an outdoor lock, use those locks that are designed for this purpose. They generally have a plastic cover on the housing that prevents water from entering the lock.

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