Safe And Vaults Services

Expert Trustworthy

The following are some of the frequently asked questions and issues we have encountered in our 25 years of experience

If you have a question not answered below then you can email it to us at [email protected] or ask us on our Facebook page.
3 Wheel4 Wheel
Starting anywhere, turn the dial left (counter-clockwise ), stopping when the first number comes to the opening index the FOURTH time*.Starting anywhere, turn the dial right (clockwise ), stopping when the first number comes to the opening index the FIFTH time*.
Turn the dial right (clockwise ), stopping when the next number comes to the opening index the THIRD time.Turn the dial left (counter-clockwise ), stopping when the next number comes to the opening index the FOURTH time.
Turn the dial left (counter-clockwise ), stopping when the last number comes to the opening index the SECOND time.Turn the dial right (clockwise ), stopping when the next number comes to the opening index the THIRD time.
Turn the dial right (clockwise ) until it stops (the opening index somewhere between 85 and 0).Turn the dial left (counter-clockwise ), stopping when the last number comes to the opening index the SECOND time.
Turn the dial right (clockwise ) until it stops (the opening index somewhere between 85 and 0).

To lock a mechnanical combination lock on a safe, simply turn the dial left (counter-clockwise ) FOUR times.

* If you miss the first number of a combination whilst dialing, you can continue turning the dial and stop on the number the next time it appears. If you miss any other number from the combination, you must start the entire dialing process from the beginning again.

If your code is set to just one number, then you turn the dial left (counter-clockwise ), stopping on that number. Turn 4 times left on a 3-wheel combination lock or 5 times left on a 4-wheel combination lock. Then turn the dial right (clockwise ) until it stops (somewhere between 85 and 0), to open the lock.

NB:The last number of a mechanical combination must not be between 0 and 20. This is called the forbidden zone. If the last digit has been set between 0 and 20, you may not be able to open the lock and may require a locksmith to gain access.

No! Cutting a hole into a safe removes it’s insurance rating, even if the hole is welded closed. A skilled locksmith will be able to pick open key locks or know where to drill minimal holes to open combination or electronic locks. Unless the safe is going to be scrapped anyway, this should never be done.

The ONLY time a technician might need to take away a safe to open it is if the location it is in is unsafe (e.g. after a fire), however, this is extremely rare. If your safe is removed then you do not know how it was opened (cutting open a safe may invalidate it’s insurance rating and can be covered up with a competent paint job) and you can’t guarantee the safety of your valuables inside.

Picking is more professional than drilling for several reasons:

  • Picking is less disruptive as it is essentially silent and produces no dust or debris.
  • Picking can often be quicker than drilling.
  • A drilled lock may need to be replaced and this can incur extra costs.
  • Repeated drilling of a safe may result in the loss of insurance cover.
Picking should be offered as standard, drilling should only be offered when picking is impossible, NOT as an alternative to picking.
Over 95% of key locks can be picked open by a locksmith suitably skilled and equipped.

There are a small number of uncommon locks of which there are no picking tools available, however a skilled technician can still open these with minimum damage to the safe and lock, and should be able to leave both operating as new.

Cheaper does not equal better value.

We specialise in non-destructive lock picking and our prices include leaving the safe operating as new with 2 new keys as standard. Our safe purchase prices include delivery and floor fixing as standard.

Ensure that any locksmith offering a quote is going to provide the same standard that Safe & Vault Services do before you consider a cheaper quote.

Fire safes are suitable for paperwork only, data safes are suitable for both paperwork and heat sensitive storage media (i.e. CDs, HDDs etc.). Please see our page on or ask us on our Fire Protection Standards

Modifying a safe to have a deposit opening (deposit drawer, drop shoot or envelope slot) will likely invalidate the insurance cover of that safe.

If this is something you still want to do, then ensure that the drop shoot comes fitted with an anti-fish device (some sort of device which covers the inside of the drop hole, to prevent the contents being removed back out through the deposit hole itself).

Safes with factory fitted deposit drawers and drop shoots may have insurance cover, usually requiring a lockable deposit drawer.

The easiest course of action in this case is to take a clear photo of the front of the safe and then contact Safe & Vault Services by Emailor by phone(087 681 7718). We will identify the safe and give you a quote to open it.
Sometimes the cost and effort to bring a safe back to working order after opening it would be more than just replacing the safe. This is usually only an issue in cases where a safe is badly damaged before being opened (e.g. criminal attack, heavy water damage, incompetent attempt by non-safe technician etc.).

Safes are made specifically to resist any kind of mindless attack. The handle, lock and bolt-work are all separate but inter-acting mechanisms:

  • Break the handle and then you can’t retract the bolt-work (even assuming you get the lock open).
  • Break a combination dial or electronic keypad off of a safe door, the lock remains locked (now without a way to open them from the outside).
  • Cut the hinges and the door is still held in place by internal bolt-work on at least 2 -sides (usually all four side)
  • Attack the door with a hammer or try to interfere with the lock down the keyhole will likely just set-off internal re-lockers, keeping the door locked even if you find the key/combination.

A re-locker is a lock inside the door of a safe which cannot be opened from the outside.

Re-lockers can be attached directly to any internal lock or to plates of glass inside the door. They are triggered if the lock is broken out of its position, or if the door is struck and the glass breaks. Re-lockers CANNOT be opened from the outside, even with the key/combination to the safe. Re-lockers can be fitted in almost any position on the door and the only way to open them is to find them and drill them apart.

An experienced safe technician will know the positions a re-locker is likely to be in, thus reducing the number of holes needed to open the safe.

An audit trail is an automatic record of any user interaction with an electronic combination lock, showing the time and date of all openings, closings and programming changes, as well as the users who performed them.

Electronic combination locks that support audit trails have user ID systems, with each user having their own unique code starting with their own unique user ID. The owner of the lock should have a list of all users and their corresding IDs (not their full usercodes), so that users in the audit trail can be identified.

Users should never share their code with anyone else.