Recently I ran into a problem involving a barrel lock. I work shift work and one day on a cold winter evening I came home to find my heater stopped working. With a low temperature expected to be just above freezing that night, I needed to figure out why my heat wasn’t working and fast.
I started troubleshooting why my furnace wasn’t turning on. One of the first things you should check first is if your gas is turned on. As I walk outside and looked at my gas meter, I notice a small cylindrical lock on my meter. The gas company placed a barrel lock on my meter and cut my service!
After double checking if I paid my bill the previous month and made sure the money was drafted from my bank account, I called the gas company and started asking questions. Why would they cut my gas? I’m a loyal customer! One they’re about to lose if they don’t explain themselves.
Turns out my neighbor had some work done to his gas service and my gas needed to be disconnected temporarily so they could do the work safely. Since I was at work that afternoon and no one else was home, they could not reconnect my service.
I requested an immediate service to have my gas reconnected. After an apology for the inconvenience, the gas company placed the order for re-connection.
and no one arrived.
The house was getting colder by the minute. I had to do something myself.
Barrel locks are a unique type of lock. They’re typically found on American home utilities. Water, gas, and electrical service entrances. The method I used to “pick” my barrel lock uses a pen and a nail.
First, take your pen apart and cut a small piece of the plastic tube off about 1/4″ long or 6-7mm. I used the head of the nail as a measurement.
Insert the small piece of plastic in the lock.
Next, you need to insert the nail and the idea is to get the plastic from the pen to stretch over the nail and wedge itself against the interior of the lock.
If you can’t find a nail, you want an object that’s going to be about the same size as the hole in the lock. A piece of coat hanger, for example, could work.
Once the nail or coat hanger is inserted into the lock, you want to hammer it in ensuring the plastic stretches over your improvised key.
If done correctly, your lock will come apart. It’s that simple.
As a side note, only do this on your own lock. Do not attempt this on a lock you do not own! Restoring a utility service that is unpaid for is theft. You can be charged with utility theft and prosecuted. Stealing is a crime!
Of course, you can purchase a barrel lock key but they can get expensive. They’re a specialty item and spending nearly $50 on a key is a bit high especially if you only intend on using it once. This Jonard Barrel Lock Key is one of the better models to consider but again, it is a very specialized tool and a costly.