renting a spare room

Renting a Spare Room, What locks Do i Need?

Renting a spare room

Renting a spare room can be a great way to earn extra cash these days.

Under the governments rent a room scheme anyone is allowed to rent out a furnished room in their home, and earn up to £7500 per year tax free – you don’t even need to file a tax return.

If you don’t want to find your own tenants for renting a spare room, there’s a host of companies which will provide you with tenants – in exchange for a management fee.

Companies such as Airbnb can provide you with short term tenants, from 1 night to a few weeks. However, for more long term solutions, companies such as could be the direction to go.

Door locks for landlord security and Tenant privacy

When renting a spare room it could benefit the landlord to have locks fitted on the bedroom doors.

Having locks fitted on bedroom doors provides a private space for tenants and landlords, and stops people entering uninvited.

Apart from the security aspect of door locks, they also provide peace of mind that you possessions are safe when you are away from the property.

Most tenants view a door lock as a prerequisite when renting a spare room.

Would you stay in a hotel room with no lock on the door?

What type of locks to use when renting a spare room?

When renting a spare room, most letting companies will require the locks to be the HMO (house of multiple occupants) type.

This means the locks should be able to be opened from the inside, without the need for a key.

These types of locks are geared towards health and safety, and are to enable a fast exit in the case of an emergency.

For example, if a bedroom door has a standard mortice lock (key operated on both sides), if there was a fire in the room and the tenant could not find the keys, it could be fatal.


Door locks for renting fitted by Alcatraz – Edinburgh locksmiths

Listed below are the most popular locks we fit at Alcatraz Edinburgh locksmiths to rented properties. The first lock we fit at a property is always the full price. However, any additional locks are installed at a discounted rate.

Yale type nightlatch. Supplied and fitted for £85 – each additional fitting £65

Yale nightlatchThese types of locks are probably the most popular locks in the world.

If fitted to the main entrance to a property it is recommended to have additional locks fitted to the door too. However, for a bedroom door they provide ample security – when fitted correctly.

From the outside they are opened by a key, and from the inside by a turning knob located on the back of the lock. To lock, you simply pull the door closed.


Deadlock with Euro thumb turn. Supplied and fitted for £120 – each additional fitting £100

Deadlock with Euro thumb turnIf looking for a more secure lock than a nightlatch, then the deadlock with Euro thumb turn is the way to go.

They are more expensive to install, however there is more work and parts required to fit them.

The deadlock is morticed into the door, then an anti snap euro thumb turn is inserted through the door and lock, then escutcheons are used to cover installation holes.


For any further information regarding door locks for renting a spare room, do not hesitate to call Alcatraz Edinburgh locksmiths for some free advice.





locksmith blog. read the small print

Locksmith Blog | Insurance Small Print, Regarding Door And Window Locks

Locksmith blog: Home security

This locksmith blog is to raise awareness regarding the locks insurance companies require, before they will pay out, in an event of a burglary.

Unfortunately, most people probably don’t know what type of locks they have in their doors and windows. They may  be paying for a home insurance policy, which is invalid due to sub standard locks.

They may also be paying too much for their policy, by not having incorrect locks fitted – some companies offer big discounts for clients who tick all the boxes.

Type of mortice lock insurance companies require

British standard mortice lock

British standard mortice locks that Alcatraz Edinburgh locksmiths install

British standard mortice lock

Mortice locks are a more traditional type of lock – they have been fitted into doors for hundreds of years. They are usually installed into wooden doors.

Most modern builds are now fitted with UPVC doors – containing a multi point locking system. Although some builders still prefer installing a traditional wooden door with a mortice lock.

Regarding insurance policies, most insurers require the policy holder to have a minimum of a 5 lever mortice lock. Although some companies insist on a 5 lever British standard lock meeting the BS3621 security specifications.

It may seem like insurance companies are being anal regarding the types of locks they want fitted – it is for good reason though when it comes to a mortice lock.

Some older mortice locks only contain 2 or 3 levers (parts of the lock that lift when the key is turned). This means they are vulnerable to being opened by anyone who has a set of skeleton keys, or a basic knowledge of lock picking. Unfortunately, these lock bypass tools are readily available on places like Amazon and Ebay.

It is not only the Levers that are vulnerable to attack in the older mortice locks. Most of these locks are fitted with a tiny bolt (part that comes out the lock, and into the door frame). These tiny bolts only insert into a hole in the wood on the door frame. This means if a decent blow was delivered to the door, the chances are, either the bolt break or the wood on the frame would give way, giving access to the property.

A British standard mortice lock is fitted with a very large – reinforced bolt. This bolt, when locked, fits into a metal box that installed into the door frame. This means there is not much chance of the lock being being forced open with a kick or a crowbar etc..

UPVC doors and window locks

Although some insurance policies require things that other policies don’t, most of them will require things like anti snap Euro locks and lockable windows. Below is an example of an insurance policy from a major provider.


insurance policy

This locksmith blog was designed to raise awareness regarding households locks – and how having the wrong ones can render the insurance policy invalid.

If in doubt you should refer to your home insurance policy, or ask a local locksmith to give you a free home security survey.

upvc door repairs Edinburgh

Locksmith Prices | How Much Does A Locksmith Cost | Alcatraz Locksmiths

How much does a locksmith cost?

The answer: locksmith prices depend on WHO you call!

locksmith prices is a subject being taken very seriously lately. This could be due to TV programmes like the BBC’S rogue traders exposing con men, and their tricks to charge a huge price.

However, since that programme was aired in 2010 there are new factors causing customers to be charged high prices from locksmiths.

The main reasons for large variations in price, can be found by looking at the factors below:

  • National locksmith company v Local locksmith company 
  • Home based locksmith v Shop based locksmith
  • Pay per click adverts V Organic search results
  • Time the service is required
  • Rogue tradesman
  • Alcatraz locksmith prices

locksmith prices. alcatraz edinburgh locksmithsArmed with this knowledge, the customer will know what to look for when calling a locksmith.

 National locksmith company v Local locksmith company

When calling a locksmith you should be aware of the physical location of the company you call. Even if a company has a local number, it does not mean they are local. They could be renting a local area phone number from a phone divert company.

So whats the problem with using a national locksmith company?

The problem is, most of these companies do not actually employ locksmiths. They are only ‘middle men’ firms who set up websites and adverts in the local directories.

When a customer wants to use their service, the national company simply subcontracts the work out to a local locksmith. The locksmith will only be paid a fraction of the price the national company charges the customer.

What type of locksmiths work for national firms?

Only locksmiths who are struggling for work, would work for a National company!

Why else would they do a job, then give most of the money away?

If these locksmiths are struggling for work, there is usually a reason for this. Maybe they do not have sufficient training? Maybe their standards of work are poor?

Intense training courses

Nowadays, people are doing 3 day intense locksmith courses, then trading as a locksmith.

Is 3 days really enough time to learn a whole trade?

Most of these 3 day locksmith courses only teach you how to pick open locks. What about joinery skills? UPVC door lock repairs? new lock installations? door entry systems? this list could go on and on. You cant learn a trade in 3 days!

  • Most reputable locksmiths will have contracts in place with letting agents and other local authorities. They will also have a base of repeat custom, and new jobs from word of mouth.
  • A morally good locksmith would NEVER work for a nation locksmith company. They couldn’t bring themselves to charge the prices, knowing the price a job should really cost.

By Using a national company, the customer may pay triple the locksmith charges, they would pay a local company.

What are the Benefits of using a local company? 

By using a local company, you are cutting out the national company ‘middle man’. This alone could save you a fortune on the cost of locksmith services.

The local Locksmith will also be more available, should you have problems with past work. In contrast, complaints made to national companies usually fall on deaf ears. This could be due to there is no money to be made out of repairing old jobs.

The locksmith who accepts subcontract for the national firms may not bother about customer satisfaction. After all, it is not their company name that is registered to the completed works. This allegation would obviously be denied by national locksmith firms. After all, they must keep up the facade of running a professional firm.

As a genuine local locksmith, who communicates with other local locksmiths. We hear complaints all the time, regarding national prices, standards of work, at the non existing after care.

How can i tell if i’m phoning a local or a national company?

As mentioned before, it can be hard because they ‘rent’ local area codes for their phone numbers.

However, these are some signs to look out for.

  1. Do they have a local accent on the phone? Most national firms are not local.
  2. Do they have realistic online reviews, from sources like google maps?
  3. Are they asking for bank details, before sending an engineer?
  4. Ask how much to change locks – if you require this service. Most National firms will give a vague answer, to avoid losing the job. However, a local locksmith will give the exact cost of changing locks.
  5. Once you have received a phone quote, type in to google ‘locksmith near me prices’ or ‘locksmith prices UK’ this give you an idea of locksmith costs, and will show you if their quote is competitive.

These are just some of the signs which identify a national company. They apply to most trades adverting online nowadays – not just the locksmith industry.

Where there is money to be made, the middleman will sniff it out!

Home based locksmith v Shop based locksmith

Regardless if a locksmith trades from home, or is based in a shop, they generally provide good after care on completed work. This is one of the main differences between them, and the nation firm.

The difference between using a ‘home based locksmith’, and a ‘shop based locksmith’ is the locksmith prices.

Why is there a difference in price, if both companies are local?

The simple answer to this question: OVERHEADS.

Shop based locksmith

If a locksmith is operating from a shop there will be many costs relating to the business premises. These costs include rent, utility bills, business rates, maintenance bills and stock etc..

These costs cannot simply be absorbed. They are paid for by charging higher prices to the customer.

Home based locksmith

A locksmith providing a mobile service from home, has next to no overheads. They only pay for things like stock, and the fuel used driving to jobs.

This means they can charge lower prices, in comparison with their shop based counterpart.

Pay per click adverts V Organic search results 

When someone searches for a service online, the very top search results will be pay per click (PPC) adverts. The companies who occupy these top spots, pay the search engine money when someone clicks on their website.

In a way it is morally wrong for search engines to operate in this manner. It enables anyone to create a website, and trade immediately. As long as their bid is high enough, they will be right at the top of the search results.

So whats the problem with pay per click companies?

The problem is, in a very competitive niche like the locksmith industry, to occupy top spot on the pay per click adverts, the company could be paying a search engine around £20/£50 per click in competitive areas.

Not every time someone clicks the website, will it convert into a job.

There is also the issue of ‘click fraud’. In some areas, the company using ‘pay per click’ will have rival PPC users clicking on their website. The rival companies do this to make the victim give up their spot on PPC. By repeatedly clicking a website, they force the victim to lower their bid, and surrendering their spot to the clicker. Before they know it, the company at the top of the PPC results could have spent hundreds of pounds in a single day.

The company spending all this money, will not just accept these costs and trade as normal. They would be out of business in no time! The only way they can continue to operate, is by charging the customer sky high prices.

Usually when they give a phone quote their locksmith prices seem reasonable. However, once the work has started they will find ways to rocket up the price.

For example, when attending an emergency lockout they will make no attempt to pick open a lock. If they do make an attempt it will only be a charade. They will simply drill open the customers locks and charge them a large fee for installing new ones. Some examples of these con man tricks can be seen in this video: locksmith rip off tricks!

Why you should use a company from the organic search results

Companies who are organically (not PPC) ranked high on google, occupy these positions for a reason. They will have been trading over a long period of time, and may have many good online reviews to confirm the quality of service.

In addition to this, the locksmith prices they charge will be a fraction of what they PPC company charge. This is because they don’t need to spend fortunes on advertising, like the PPC locksmiths do.

Time the service is required

locksmith prices uk. night workWhen calling a locksmith company most people realise the time you call will affect the price.

This is fair enough. You cant expect a firm to charge the same price at 4 o’clock in the morning as what the would at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. However, customers must be aware! Locksmiths, and in particular national locksmiths firms using PPC, have tapped into this market.

If someone is locked out in the middle of the night it can be a very distressing time. Usually they will search for 24 hour locksmith services on their phone. Because of the time and the situation, the customer will just pick the company at the top of the search results.

AS MENTIONED EARLIER, THIS IS WHERE THE PAY PER CLICK ADVERTS ARE, and where NATIONAL COMPANIES make big money. They know in the middle of the night most people just want in their home, and will often pay over the odds for a locksmith service.

Even if the customer refuses the quote and phones the next company in the search results, that will more than likely be a national company too. Search engines like Google and Bing usually allocates the first 3 positions at the top of a page to Pay per click adverts!

By the Time the customer with no knowledge of PPC adverts has got to the 3rd company in the search results (usually 3 different national firms), they will be resigned to paying huge locksmith prices, to get in to their home.

How to avoid paying big locksmith prices during the night

The best way to avoid paying too much during the night is to keep phoning more companies. You should be able to find one charging reasonable emergency locksmith prices.

After you get past the top 3 PPC adverts you will move on to the normal search results. These are the companies that do not pay for people visiting their websites.

Most cities have 24 hour locksmiths who are willing to come out at night for a reasonable price. If a company doesn’t answer the phone, simply move on to the next company until you get an answer – and a price your comfortable paying. This method is not that time consuming, and is well worth the effort. Ten minutes calling around could save you a load of money!

If worst comes to worst, and you don’t find a company, you can always call back the PPC nationals firms.


Rogue tradesmen

It should be mentioned that in every industry there are rogue tradesmen. The locksmith trade is no different. 

Back in 2010 a con man called Mark Makowski was jailed for 4 years for tricking people who needed an emergency locksmith. He would give the customer a phone quote ranging from £100 to £200, only for the final bill to be as much as £1000 pounds!

After numerous complaints the BBC programme ‘rogue traders‘ ran an an investigation on him, which ultimately stopped him in his tracks.

The best way to avoid being stung by people like Mark Makowski is to insist on a fixed price, or at least get a worst case scenario price – this takes away the scope for being ripped off.

Look at the company’s online reviews. What period of time have these reviews been accumulated? (20 reviews in one week can look a bit strange). If a company is ripped customers off, it is only a matter of time before they get bad reviews.

If something doesn’t feel right with a company, trust your gut instinct!


Alcatraz Locksmith Prices

At Alcatraz Locksmiths, we strive to provide the best locksmith prices in the industry.

To present value to the customer, we work on a FIXED PRICED BASIS, and do not charge VAT or  CALL OUT FEES.

Regarding lockouts, we charge no more than £60/£80 (depending on the time of the call out).

After opening a locked door, if  a lock needs replaced, we only charge for the price of the lock (except mortices, which have a small fitting fee, due installation times.


  • British standard Mortice                                £85
  • Standard Nightlatch                                        £85
  • Yale cylinder                                                      £65  
  • British standard Mortice and Yale cylinder  £100
  • UPVC euro lock                                                 £75 / £85  
  • UPVC multi-point gearbox                              £130

*discounts apply to multiple locks changed at the same property*


  • British standard Mortice               £95  (each additional £75)
  • Yale  type Nightlatch                      £85  (each additional £65)
  • 3 lever Mortice (internal doors)   £85  (each additional £65)


  • Emergency entry                               £60 / £80 (50% off additional doors)
  • Lock repairs                                       £50 / £65
  • Key cutting                                         £5 per key


So how much does a locksmith cost?

The answer is not that much, if you phone the right company.

You should avoid using national locksmith firms, and pay per click companies at all costs.

Shop based local locksmiths can provide a good service and aftercare. However, due to their overheads, the prices they charge can be very high.

Home based mobile locksmiths, charge the cheapest locksmith prices.

Use one who organically (not paid for) ranks high in a search engine, and has good reviews over a period of time. This will also help you avoid the rogue tradesman – they never rank high, and their reviews will have exposed them.

We hope you enjoyed this small article regarding the pitfalls of calling the wrong locksmith. Follow this guide about locksmith prices, and what determines them, and you will save money

At Alcatraz – Edinburgh locksmiths we are always happy to give some advice, and are only a phone call away.




upvc door repairs Edinburgh

UPVC Door Repairs / Multi Point Locking Repairs Edinburgh

upvc door repairs Edinburgh

Edinburgh UPVC Door Repairs

At Alcatraz locksmiths, our UPVC multi point lock repair service specialise in diagnosing and repairing these type of doors.

Through many years of experience, we have learned how to open, repair, and replace any type of UPVC mechanism.

UPVC Door Repairs In Edinburgh: 0131 467 7675

  • Fixed price UPVC door repairs
  • 95% of jobs can be completed on the same day
  • local locksmith not a call centre
  • Edinburgh trusted trade member
  • No call out fee or VAT

UPVC door repairs: What is wrong with my UPVC door?

UPVC door repairs are fast becoming the most popular repair a locksmith will undertake.

These multi-point locking doors are becoming more popular due to their high security features and relative cheapness.

Most traditional wooden doors will have 1 or 2 locks fitted as standard. Whereas a multi point / UPVC door can have up to 8 different locking points on the same door.

However, because a UPVC door has more working parts than a traditional door, there is more scope for parts to break.

UPVC door not locking

Inside a UPVC door there is a metal mechanism that runs down the door. When the handle is lifted up a series of locking features will pop out the mechanism, and fit into the adjacent holes in the door frame.

The most common reason these type of mechanisms break, is due to poor door alignment.

When a door has moved out of its normal position, the locks that come out the door mechanism, no longer align with holes in the door frame. Therefore, extra force is required to make the door lock into position.

Unfortunately, unless the door alignment problem is addressed, it is only a matter of time before the locking mechanism will break.

The best way to avoid a broken mechanism is to call a professional locksmith. They can realign your door fairly quickly, so no force required to lock the door.

UPVC door wont open

Broken gearbox

When a UPVC door wont open, its usually down to the problem described above (door misalignment).

If it has been allowed to go on too long, the gearbox within the door mechanisms will have broken.

If the gearbox breaks whilst the door is shut, this can be tricky job for a locksmith to open.

Most times a locksmith will have a locked UPVC door open in under 15 minutes, but occasionally there are some jobs that can take much longer to open. That’s why we recommend using a local locksmith with fixed prices.

If you want to save money do not use a national locksmith company. Call our UPVC door lock repairs Edinburgh number, and we will give you free free quote.

Broken barrel

Another reason a UPVC door wont open, can be due to a faulty barrel.

This could be down to vandalism, such as someone putting glue in the lock. However, more often than not, the barrel has simply reached the end of its life.

These type of multi point lock repairs are an easy fix for a locksmith. They will simply extract the barrel, open the door, and replace it with a new barrel.

This type of job should cost the customer no more than £90 to open the door and fit a new anti snap barrel. If the quote is higher than this amount,  the customer has probably phoned a national firm.

UPVC door handle broken

Sometimes a customer will report the handles on their UPVC door are broken. The handles will either not budge – or the complete opposite, they will just hang down floppy.

In both instances, it is not the handles that are broken – it is the gearbox within the UPVC mechanism that has broken. There will be a broken part within the gearbox preventing the handle from performing its normal operation.

Once the door is opened, and a new gearbox fitted, the handles will start operating normally again.


I can lock my UPVC door but i cant get the key out?upvc door lock repairs edinburgh

This is a common issue locksmiths deal with many times a year. However, what causes this problem, and how can it be fixed?

The picture to the right is an euro lock. This is the type of lock that is fitted in most UPVC doors.

When someone puts a key in the lock and turns it, the black part in the middle of lock (cam) will turn. When the cam turns to the 12 o’clock position, it will lock and unlock the mechanism of the door.

Once the door is locked or unlocked, the cam will travel back to the bottom position in the barrel, then the key can be extracted from the lock.

When problems arise

Most euro locks will only lock, or unlock, if there is NO key in the other side of the barrel.

If there is a key in one side of the lock, and someone puts a key in the other side, and forces the lock to turn. The cam in the middle of the lock will twist out of position. It will now be pointing up the way in its natural position, as opposed to down the way.

The person may have been able to unlock the door. However, because the cam is now out of position, the person will no longer be able to pull the key out off the lock – as mentioned earlier, the cam needs to be around the bottom position of the barrel to extract the key.

It is possible to take the lock out of the door, and put the cam back into its natural position. However, once a cam has been twisted out of alignment, it will usually have lost its strength, and will easily go out of alignment in the future.

The best fix for this type of problem is to replace the cylinder with a new one. 


At your service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

We hope this multi point locks repairs page has been useful.

If your require a professional locksmith at an affordable price, do not hesitate to call Alcatraz locksmiths for a free quotation today.


Door Lock Not Working? | Alcatraz Edinburgh Locksmiths

My door lock is broken? : The most common reasons

“My door lock is jammed”, “my door lock is sticking”, “my door lock is loose”. These are the statements a locksmith will hear all the time. When people have a door lock not working properly, they will usually have no idea what’s gone wrong. Sometimes the fault can leave them ‘locked in’ or ‘locked out’ of their property. Or maybe they cant lock the door, forcing them to stay at home.

Above are just some of the reasons people call out a locksmith. This service can sometimes be expensive, depending on the problem, and the time of the call out. Therefore, at Alcatraz locksmiths we have put together a list common lock problems people are most likely to encounter. Maybe the information will help you fix your own lock? kind of like a ‘lock problem troubleshooter’. If all else fails give us a call, we are always here to help, 24 hours a day!


Most new build houses today are fitted with UPVC or composite doors. These doors come with a built in multipoint locking mechanism. These multipoint locks have a combination of hooks and bolts which extend into the door frame when the handle is lifted. However, back in the day most households were fitted with a wooden door as standard. These doors are usually fitted with two locks; a ‘cylinder nightlatch’ (Yale lock) and a ‘mortice lock’.

Below is the most common locking problems we see on the doors mentioned above.




There are a few reasons why a key wont turn in a lock. The person could be trying to open the door with the wrong key! part of the key could be worn away, leaving it the wrong shape to open the lock?

A door lock can also start ‘jamming’ due to a lack of lubrication. Sometimes the pins and levers inside a lock become so dry that they stop moving smoothly and eventually seize up . Usually a simple spray of lubricating oil on the working parts is enough to sort out the problem.

Sometimes people can have problems with their locks after having keys cut. Most people do not realise you can only copy a key so many times before it stops working properly. If your copying keys from the original key which came with the lock, it should always work fine. Problems arise when you start copying keys that have already been copied (not an original). Its like the Chinese whispers analogy; the more times something is repeated, the further from the original it will be. check out this video on multiple key copying for a demonstration.


door lock not working: dropped snib

This snib is the little button on the lock body.


If the key is not turning in the lock, it could be the snib on the back of the nightlatch has becoming faulty. This usually happens when it has moved itself into the deadlocked position when the door is closed. When this snib drops, no matter what you do, the lock will not open from the outside, even with the correct key inserted into the lock. This type of scenario is quite an easy job for a trained locksmith. If you have a letterbox on your door they will put a mirror and tools though it, which will enable them to move the deadlocked snib into the correct position. Usually after this type of job the locksmith will recommend having a new lock fitted, because once the snib has deadlocked itself once, it will usually happen again.


This problem may be caused by the door moving out of its original position, due to movement in the building or weather conditions causing the wooden door to expand or contract. This door movement can cause locking problems by the doors locks not aligning properly any more with the lock keeps on the frame. The easiest fix for this type of problem is to take off the lock keeps on the door frame, and realign them to a better position to receive the bolt from the lock. When realigning the lock keeps on the frame, it is always a good idea to place them in a way which leaves some  contingency space in case the door moves again in the future.



CANT LIFT UP THE HANDLE TO LOCK THE DOORdoor lock broken: upvc handle wont lift

Their are 2 main reasons why people will have this problem with a UPVC door.

The first reason that can cause the above problem is ‘misalignment’. The door has moved from its original position and become misaligned with the keeps on the door frame. With UPVC doors, this ‘misalignment’ is usually due to the weight of the door pulling down on the hinges over a period of time. With the more modern UPVC doors this problem can be an easy fix; simply insert an Alan key into the middle of the top hinge, turn the key a little whist watching for the door lifting to its original position. You can visit the Glass and Lock website for a more comprehensive guide on adjusting different types of UPVC door hinges.


The second reason why a UPVC handle wont lift to lock the door, is caused by a broken gearbox.

door lock not working: broken gearbox

UPVC door gearbox

This is is the part of the locking mechanism which operates all the hooks, bolts, and rollers on the multi point strip. Ironically, a broken gearbox is usually caused by the door being misaligned. If all the locking points of the multi point strip are not fitting nicely into their respective keeps on the door frame, the home owner will need more ‘force’ when lifting the handle to engage the locks. This extra force may get the door locking temporarily, however forcing the door to lock like this will eventually take its toll on something. This is where something inside the gearbox breaks down. When this gearbox break there is not much the house holder can do apart from call out a locksmith. Changing UPVC gearboxes is a more specialist kind of repair, and to purchase one usually requires an account with a lock supplier.


There is really only one reason for this type of problem: Its caused by a key being in a locked door on one side, then someone on the other side tries opening the lock with another key. This causes the cam (centre of the lock) to twist out of its original position.

Once the cam is out of position, the person will no longer be able to lock the door and take the key out. The fix for this problem is quite easy, its simply a case of changing the euro cylinder. A euro cylinder with an out of position cam can be repaired, but once its been out of position once, it will have less strength than before, meaning its easier for the situation to happen again. Therefore simply changing the euro cylinder is the best solution, and at an average price of £20 its not too expensive.

Happy to help

Although there are many more reasons for a door lock not working, for the sake of keeping this article brief we have only listed the ‘most common’ faults we encounter. If you feel we have missed anything out, please feel free to drop us a message and we will happily update it.

For more articles and advice, visit the blog section on our locksmith Edinburgh website 😉

How Secure Is My UPVC Door? By Alcatraz Edinburgh Locksmiths

As practising Edinburgh Locksmiths we see the results of burglaries on a weekly basis.

Most times we need to upgrade the customers locks, to ensure it won’t happen again. whilst there we offer a free home security check, and advise on burglary prevention methods.


A Burglary usually happens when the thief finds an easy target, such as:

  • homes that are secluded, and out of view from witnesses.
  • homes that have poor door and window security.
  • homes that are occupied by the elderly or vulnerable

Once the thief identifies a target, they will wait for the right time to force entry – either through a door or a window. Usually, they will use a crowbar type tool. They insert the tool into a gap in the door, or window. Then by applying brute force, they will break the locking mechanism.

There’s nothing unusual about this way of entry. It is a method thieves have used, since time begun.

The evolution of the burglar

Through time home security has improved. People are now using more advanced security on their windows and doors. Either by replacing their existing windows and doors fully, or by just upgrading the locks.

Unfortunately, as security measures have advanced in recent times, so has the burglars techniques of gaining entry!

This isn’t helped by the technology available to anyone with access to the internet. A quick search on YouTube these days will show you how to open most kinds of lock on the market.

Not the best information to have flying about cyberspace, especially when it falls into the wrong hands.

Below we will discuss how to properly secure the modern UPVC door.

For tips on securing windows see our previous blog on window security.

From a wooden door to a UPVC door

Upvc door multipoint lock. By Alcatraz Edinburgh locksmiths

Multi point lock

Back in the day almost everyone had a wooden door, usually fitted with 2 locks: a Yale and a mortice. However, nowadays more and more people have UPVC doors. This is due to a variety of reasons such as becoming the norm on new builds, or they come as a package when getting UPVC windows installed.

On the face of it UPVC doors seem to have amazing security as opposed to the wooden door. When locking a UPVC door, most require the handle to be lifted, which in turn shoots out a variety of hooks and bolts from the multi point strip fitted in the door. These hooks \ bolts will then fit into the metal keeps in the door frame effectively creating up to 5 locking points as opposed to the 2 locking points on the average wooden door.

So with these basic figures in mind, surely the UPVC door must be more secure right?

UPVC doors are useless with a cheap barrel!

how secure is my Upvc door. Alcatraz Edinburgh locksmiths

Nearly all UPVC doors are fitted with a euro lock barrel.  This is the lock which is fitted through the UPVC door handle and is locked after lifting the handle. These locks can be a real security risk unless they are fitted with certain type of barrel.

The main reason these locks are so vulnerable is they can be so easily snapped and pulled out of the handle, leaving thieves a free pass to open the locked door. Check out this video: euro lock snapping.

The problem with these locks have become so bad that some countries are trying to ban them.  Further more, most people don’t realise their insurance policies are invalid unless their property is secured with a British standard euro lock – its usually in the policy small print!

British standard anti snap euro lock

As a  result of the poor security features in a ‘standard’ euro lock companies were falling over themselves to create a better lock. Only the best of these new type locks would be awarded the 3 star British standard rating – such as the Avocet lock. Upvc door British standard lock The main security additional on these new locks were they could not be snapped anymore. Therefor stopping an intruder opening the door via the barrel hole.

Most burglars who break into houses via the euro lock know not to tackle a property fitted with a British standard lock. They would see the British standard kite mark and know immediately they would be wasting their time.

So how secure is my UPVC door?

When it comes to home security there is no competition between a wooden door versus a UPVC door – as long as it has a decent euro lock! The UPVC door with all its multi locking points is far more secure.

A standard euro lock can be purchased at most home improvement stores for around £20. However for around £45 you could have a top of the range British standard euro lock. So for the sake of an extra £25 you can improve your home security vastly.

We hope you enjoyed this locksmith blog, and it answered the question of ‘how secure is my UPVC door’. If it prevents 1 house from being burgled it will be considered a success. For any advice on fitting British standard euro locks call Alcatraz – Edinburgh Locksmiths anytime.

Edinburgh Locksmiths | Are Your Windows Secure?

Edinburgh Locksmiths Blog: window security – part 1


As Edinburgh locksmiths the main services we provide are repairing locks, replacing locks and providing an emergency service. However, In the past few weeks I have been installing more window locks than ever before. Due to this fact I thought I would write a couple of blogs posts, regarding why i think window security is on the increase. I will also explain some affordable options to increase your window security.

One of the properties i installed window locks onto recently was due to a burglary: the elderly man was in bed whilst the thieves broke in through a sash window. They took his car keys, wallet and stole his car. Sadly the thieves may have already ‘scouted’ his property. Before breaking in they usually look for properties occupied by the elderly or the vulnerable, before moving on to check out their security.

The elderly man has now had an alarm installed and had all his windows secured with sash stops.

Another property i fitted window locks to recently had their sash window forced open and were awoken by noises and torch lights shining downstairs – luckily the thieves fled the scene when they realised someone was in the house.


Window locks

There are hundreds of locks on the market for windows, but for the sake of keeping this blog brief I will only talk about one type of lock today. I will talk about other locks in future Alcatraz – Edinburgh Locksmiths blogs

Sash stops

Sash windows are an older type window that lift up the way to open. They are mostly fitted to older type properties or to houses which are listed. These types of windows are particularly easy for a thief to enter. Usually they will wedge a crowbar in at the bottom of the window and force it up – breaking the catch which is supposed to keep them closed.

Insurance companies have caught onto how easy it is for properties with these type of windows to be broken into and have altered there policies accordingly. Some policies will state that if you do not have key operated locks fitted to these windows it will invalidate the policy.

A great way a securing these types of windows is by fitting sash stops. Edinburgh locksmiths - window security: sash stopsThey are relatively cheap to buy and very easy to install. They are small bullet shaped locks that are drilled into the window frame which block the window from being forced open. They can be fitted tight to the window so the window cannot be opened, or they can be fitted a few inches up so the householder can open a little for ventilation. If the owner wants to open the window fully these locks simply screw out by inserting the special key provided and turn it clockwise to release the bolt.

As mentioned above i will talk about alternative window security in future posts.

For a complete guide to home security this article is very helpful: Best home security system

Hopefully this small post has been of interest to you. If you have any questions regarding locks or home security don’t hesitate to call Alcatraz – Edinburgh Locksmiths for some free advice


Locksmiths Edinburgh | Read This For A Laugh


As 24 hour emergency locksmiths Edinburgh we get used to dealing with pressure situations.

For example I’ve been to lockouts where the whole family Is watching me try to open their door whilst a baby is screaming its head off. Locksmiths Edinburgh crying baby situation

I’ve opening repossessed houses for the city of Edinburgh council, often with a few bailiff type characters watching on impatiently.

Probably the most popular type of lockouts I attend though are the ones between 12am to 5am. These can be quite pressurised jobs as the people are usually drunk, have lost their keys, and are not in the best of moods. Depending what locks are on their door it can take up to an hour to open, then you can be up to an hour fitting new locks if the old locks had to be drilled open – not what you want when you have drunks watching on!


However the lockout I attended a few weeks ago has to be the worst!

My phone rung at around 6.30am. It was a woman asking if I could open her door in an emergency. She had searched ‘24 hour Locksmiths Edinburgh’ on her phone and decided to use us after reading our online reviews. She told me her and her husband were due on a flight in just over a couple of hours and their passports were still in the house: Whilst packing the car the house door had closed behind them and both sets of keys were in the house too.

I told the woman i wouldn’t be able to open her door as my wife had just left for work, and I was watching our 1 year old baby until 10am. The lady then started pleading with me saying she’ll watch the baby if I open the door! she said she had tried calling other Edinburgh locksmiths but no one was answering their phones at that time.

I decided because the baby was awake, and the lockout was just a simple Yale lock ( I usually open in under a minute) I would go out and open it for her. I put the baby in the car seat and headed straight to the job: which was only 5 minutes away.

When I got there, I drove right up the driveway so I could keep an eye on the baby whilst opening the lock. This is when the pressure begun! usually with a Yale lock I would slip a special bit card down the edge of the door and 9 times out of 10 it will pop open. However, this door had a protective seal all the way down the edge which stopped the card from getting through. I told them I could try picking the lock for them, but if they needed in their house quick the fastest way was to drill out the lock and open the door with a screwdriver. They agreed, and told me they’ve seen it done plenty times as they were both local police officersLocksmiths Edinburgh feeling the pressure of authority I Don’t know why but suddenly the pressure just increased!

As soon as I started drilling out the lock i realised straight away my drill was running low on power, and to make things worse and i didn’t bring the spare battery – the pressure just increased a little more! If my drill ran out of power half way through drilling the lock it would be a nightmare. I would probably have had to crowbar open the door, which meant I would have to repair any damage to the door and frame – not to mention they were in a rush to catch a flight!

To cut a long story short I managed to drill the lock with the power left in the drill. However, the lock would still not open? In the back of my mind I’m thinking the baby in the van could start crying at any minute. The 2 police officers are due on their flight soon. I’ve just destroyed their lock, and we were still no further forward than when I got there 10 minutes ago: PRESSURE OVERLOAD!! Locksmiths Edinburgh under pressure

It turns out a piece of metal in the lock was jammed and stopping the barrel from turning open – probably due to the lock being drilled open with a drill speed of about 1 mile per hour!

I persevered for another 5 minutes and eventually got the lock open. I then quickly fitted a new lock in record speed.

The 2 police officers were very thankful and happy they could now catch their flight. They quickly paid me, grabbed what they needed from the house and headed straight to the airport. They gave me a little wave as they drove past – I was sitting in the van in their driveway trying to compose myself – obviously they were unaware of the inner turmiol I had just endured!


I made a few mental notes of what not to do in the future, then went straight home for a strong coffee – and to put the drill on charge! ?

24 Hour Locksmith Edinburgh | Non Destructive Entry

what is non destructive entry?

Usually when someone loses the keys to their home they will type something like ‘24 hour locksmith Edinburgh‘ into google. There is nothing wrong with this search term. However, armed with more knowledge of how some locksmiths operate, you can save yourself some money.

If you need a locksmith you should look for a company that offers a ‘non destructive service’. This means they are highly trained at opening locks, and try many opening methods to avoid destroying the lock: therefore saving you money on expensive parts and labour.


pros and cons of non destructive entry


As mentioned above getting people in their home without destroying their locks will save them money – which im sure makes most people happy!

From a Locksmiths perspective having a happy customer is a good Thing. They will spread the word about your service. They may also call again if they require your line of work. happy customers leave good reviews online. search engines like Google take note of these good reviews and alter the company website rankings accordingly.


From the customers point of view there are no cons. Whats the con in saving money?

The main reasons some 24 hour locksmith Edinburgh firms open locks destructively is to make the maximum ‘MONEY’ from the job.

For example say someone is locked out, and their lock is a Yale nightlatch. A ‘non destructive locksmith’ will charge around £40 to £50 for opening that particular lock – this will be done 9 times out of 10 without destroying the lock.

however, if the locksmith is money orientated they will drill out the lock and replace it with a new one. They will charge the customer for supplying and fitting a new lock, plus a fee for getting them back in the property. this total job can now cost anywhere from £70 to £100 – sometimes more.

So as you can see from the example above a ‘non Destructive’ locksmith can get you back in your home faster and cheaper than his destructive counterpart.


how does non destructive entry work?

The first thing to point out is that not all locks can be opened without destroying the lock. For Example a British standard mortice lock can be a nightmare to open non destructively. They have so many safety features to prevent a burglary that opening one can be almost impossible. Therefore destroying this type of lock may be the only option for accessing the property.  Apart from these locks however most household locks can be bypassed, sometimes with frightening ease!

Good 24 hour Locksmith Edinburgh firms have many methods of opening a lock without destroying it. For example, if I was attending a lockout with a lock like the one pictured below. i would first try sliding a special bit card down the gap of the door with the intention of sliding back the latch.Typical yale lock encountered by 24 hour locksmith edinburgh

If the above method didn’t open the lock I would put a mirror through the letter box and a special tool. This tool would then allow me to open the lock by turning the handle on the inside to the open position.

If the letterbox method didn’t work I could go on to picking the lock or even  ‘bumping’ it open with special keys etc…

So as you can see from the above examples there are many ways to open certain locks – its highly unlikely they will all fail!


Our non destructive targets at Alcatraz – 24 hour locksmith Edinburgh 

Our top priority upon arriving at a job is to open the lock without destroying it. We have trained in many non destructive locksmith courses, and regularly practice to improve our skills.

Some of the non Destructive percentages below might seem low. This is due to locks becoming more advanced year on year. However, our percentages are still higher than the money orientated locksmith who makes no attempt to save the lock!

  • We would estimate we open about 95% of Yale type locks without destroying the lock
  • We would estimate opening around 60% of euro locks (fitted to UPVC doors) without destroying the lock
  • We would estimate opening around 30% of mortice locks without destroying the lock – most older mortices are easily picked open, its the newer British standard locks that drags this percentage down.

I hope you enjoyed this small article regarding non Destructive locksmith Technique. If it saves you some money in the future it will have served its purpose. If you have any questions or need help don’t hesitate to call us anytime.




How I Became An Edinburgh Locksmith – Alcatraz

Childhood fascination Young Edinburgh locksmith

When I think back to when I was a child I suppose I have always had a fascination with keys and locks, and how I could open them. One of the earliest memories I have is rummaging through my grandmothers cupboards trying to find something to play with. I can remember coming across a giant brass key – probably about 8 inches long which stopped me dead in my tracks! I can remember thinking is this a key to a giants house! In hindsight I realise it was a just a gift given to my uncle for his 21st birthday.

I can remember not that long after this I was playing in my grandmothers stair, one of the lockup doors was open and I could see there was a snib lock on the inside of the door. This fascinated me for some reason and I would lift it up and down to see how it worked. Unfortunately I took it one step further, stepped inside the lockup and closed the door thinking I could open it again! However it was pitch black inside and I couldn’t get it open! Being only about 5 or 6 years old I can remember a wave of fear ripping through me – I started screaming and shouting for help. Luckily one of the neighbours in the bottom flat heard me and opened the door. I don’t think I ever played in that lockup again!

Throughout the rest of my years growing up I was always interested in opening things that were locked. I can remember my uncle showing me how to pick open a padlock by ‘listening’ closely to the numbered wheels as they turn, when you hear a little ‘click’ that meant the number was in the correct position, and if you did this with all the numbers the lock would open!

I also remember putting bits of sticks into gates and lifting the levers to open the gate. By the time I was a teenager I was a fully fledged amature locksmith. If my mother wasn’t in when I got home from school there was 2 or 3 ways I could get into the locked house. I usually just jumped onto the back garden window, held onto the frame with one hand and with the free hand deliver 3 or 4 rapid blows to the window beside the handle, and hay presto the window would pop open. I don’t know how I knew these things, I just did?

Adult working lifeAt work Before I was a locksmith

By the time I finished high school I had no clue what i Wanted to do in life. The norm back then was to get an apprenticeship ‘under your belt’ and this would set you in good stead. So I began an apprenticeship as a vehicle spray painter. This was a job I did enjoy and managed to finish the 4 year apprenticeship, however it was a bad job for your health – even with air fed masks and the proper ventilation I was still breathing in lots of dust and paint fumes and had developed a lingering cough which would not go away – so I decided it was time for a career change.

I thought I would be a postman for a while, this would buy me time until I decided what i really wanted to do in life – 4 years later and I still hadn’t decided!

After being a postman for so long i was ready to try something new. This is when I had the idea of being a bus driver. I liked this job to begin with as it was really well paid and it didn’t need too much training to get into it. I also liked the fact too it was almost a self employed job. You would go into work, sign in, find out what bus and route you were on and off you went – there went another 7 years of my life!!

During these 7 years I definitely knew I wanted to start my own business, but no mater how Hard I tried I could not think of what I wanted to do. I was just going through the motions to keep a roof over my head.

Eureka moment which changed everythingAn Edinburgh locksmith was born

When I was around 30 years old I called out a local Edinburgh locksmith to change a british standard mortice lock in my house. I was chatting away with him while he was working, and he was telling me about his job. I can remember feeling a bit envious and telling the guy I wished I served his kind of apprenticeship when I left school instead of the one i did. However, I knew I was too long in the tooth now to start a new apprenticeship: apart from my age I knew I couldn’t afford to cut down to the kind of wage an apprentice would get: I had a house to keep and a family to Provide for.

After another couple of years I moved into a new house. The upvc door which lead into the back garden would not lock, and was jammed open. I tried to fix it myself bit I didn’t really know what I was doing. I had no choice but to call out another locksmith in Edinburgh. The guy said he was really busy but he could come out the next again day. When he arrived the next day he stripped out the multipoint lock inside the upvc door and was testing its working operation. I was fascinated with what he was doing and was asking lots of questions regarding his job and how he got into it. He told me he started the job quite late in life and that his past situation was similar to mine. That was it! I decided right there and then I was going to be a locksmith, no matter what hurdles I had to overcome I would make it happen!


Becoming an Edinburgh locksmithMy Mobile locksmith vehicle

I started by looking at some locksmith training courses I could do. Most of these courses were intensive courses lasting under a week and claimed to fully train you up. One of the courses offered an actual locksmith apprenticeship however it had to be done as a series of courses which would each cost a huge amount of money. When I finally decided on the course I wanted to do I booked in for the next again week.

The course was good as an introduction into the job, it taught me most methods of how to pick open locks. However when I finished the course it soon dawned on me that picking open a lock is probably only about 20% of a Locksmiths job!

I still had to learn how to install locks from scratch, learn joinery skills, learn to repair locks, replaced locks,  work with upvc multipoint locks, window locks, commercial Locks, and other methods of entry to lockouts (not all locks can be picked). I was quite deflated, I had just wasted a lot of money doing a course which was going to be almost useless in the real world.

I decided I would swallow my pride and find a locksmith in Edinburgh who would train me up. I looked through lots of websites trying to find a company who would take me on. I decided sending an email was the best route – if i got rejected it wouldn’t be as embarrassing! I emailed a company which said the owner had over 25 years experience in the industry. I told him my situation and told him in exchange for him training me up, any work I could not do in the future I would pass it over to him, and if he did a job with me I would half the profits with him. I couldn’t believe my luck when he accepted.

That was a few years ago now and still to this day we are the best of friends. My company has now grown to be one of the biggest emergency locksmith firms in Edinburgh which is steadily growing day by day.