Having a safe for your weapon is an investment for your security. You can’t afford to have your firearms be within reach of your children or burglars. It can cause deadly injuries, or worse, it could be used against you and your family. But as much as vaults like these are helpful, you should know how to maintain a gun safe to make it last for years.
An expensive gun safe would likely be tough against prying and fire cladding. However, it can’t fight the damage when accumulated dirt sits on its edges for years. Molds and mildew may start to grow, and as you know, these fungi can bring in unnecessary moisture inside the safe. It’s not a favorable condition both for your weapons and the person accessing the safe.
So to maintain the quality of your gun safe, I listed here some practical tips that you can use together with some products. Doing each of these steps will “protect the protector” of your valuables.
1. Regular cleaning
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Cleaning your safe once a month is the easiest, yet most important, step of maintaining your gun vault. Even if it’s mostly closed, dust and dirt can seep inside after some time. The exterior of the gun safe can also become grimy after touching it multiple times. You don’t need to use any special detergent or cleaning agent. Simply wipe the exterior with a damp cloth. You can use a gentle cleaning agent on the metal surface but avoid applying it on the locking bolts. That’s how to maintain a gun safe without damaging any part.
If your gun safe has a special coat, just use a clean, damp cloth to avoid tarnishing the surface. You might end up needing to service the coat of your safe because of negligent cleaning.
For the interior, use a gentle duster that won’t scrape the cloth padding. I recommend that you use the OXO Good Grips Microfiber Hand Duster. It will hold the dust so you can clean the inside of the safe without using any chemicals. This duster is also slim enough to tweak through the tiny spaces inside your safe. You can choose on the variation of this duster depending on the size of your vault.
2. Oil the screws
Like any other locking bolts, those on your gun safe will start to stick after a few months if you don’t oil it. Keeping the gun safe close for long will cause the bolts to build up rust and dust. It’s best to oil the bolts and locking screws at least once a year so you won’t have any problem about jamming doors.
This maintenance step is very easy to do and won’t need much monitoring. You just have to apply an oil lubricant to the front and bottom bolts. However, avoid over-greasing these parts or the excess will leak to the padded parts of the safe. Knowing how to maintain a gun safe will save your vault from further damage.
If you’re yet to purchase an oil lubricant, I suggest that you check out the Gasoila Rust Eater Deep-Seating Oil. This oil comes in a spray can for easy application on bolts and hinges of your gun safe. It literally eats rust away and loosens tight bolts even if those are frozen. The Gasoila oil doesn’t have silicone content so it won’t damage the finish of your safe. Just avoid storing this inside the gun vault since the content is flammable and can burst under intense heat.
3. Fire seal check
If your gun safe has a fire seal, check this too during your monthly cleaning routine. It may have tears and damages that will compromise its functionality in the event of a fire. It’s important that you keep the fire seal in good condition as it’s one of the features that make your safe fireproof for a certain period.
In case your case doesn’t have a fire seal, you can install one on your own. You can purchase a long strip like the one from Pemko for an added protection to your guns and other valuables. This commercially available fire seal has a graphite finish and is 18 feet long and 0.44 inches thick.
How to maintain a gun safe? When installing the fire seal, you no longer need to use a separate adhesive since the back of the strip already comes with one. This will protect the interior of your safe against harmful gasses that can be produced during a fire.
If you’re not confident with your handyman skills, you can have the safe serviced for the installation of the seal. Just make sure that all your firearms are secured and no children are around to play with it.
4. Lock servicing
The locking mechanisms of gun safes usually fall into two types: the mechanical and the electronic. Among the two, the electronic one is most likely to require frequent fixing. Having it serviced and checked once a year is crucial. The lock is the part that seals the safe away from unauthorized access. If this isn’t working properly, the safe is useless.
Avail the service of a trusted locksmith or check if the warranty of the product still covers the defect. Mechanical locks would need an intricate inspection to see if all the parts are in the right place and working. Biometric locks might need recalibration or a total replacement.
Strange clicking noises, stiff dialing, loose lock, and old locks are just some of the signs that you need to go to a locksmith. It may cost about $50 to $100 to service a lock depending on the extent of the damage. This cost is actually smaller than having to replace an old lock years from now. As a preventive measure, regular servicing will ensure that your gun safe is serving its purpose which is protecting your valuables. That’s one step on how to maintain a gun safe.
5. Unload the guns
One way to maintain the structure of your gun safe is to unload and decock a gun before storage. Remember, gun safes aren’t bulletproof. Someone will get hurt if the loaded gun went off or you forgot that it’s actually locked and loaded. The danger doubles when you share the gun safe with another person. He or she might accidentally pull the trigger and an irreparable damage will happen.
It’s not illegal to store a loaded gun, but it doesn’t require rocket science to explain the security concerns it brings. Although you want the firearm to be readily available in the event of invasion, storing it while loaded isn’t a safe choice.
I suggest that you keep the ammo and bullet in a place where you can easily access it. This is the least you can do to protect your family.
Letting bullets sitting on your gun after firing it won’t be good either. The rounds will stick and won’t fire during emergency situations. So can you get away with a clean, loaded gun? No, once it’s fried on fire, there’s a chance that it will go off. That’s not how to maintain a gun safe.
6. Clean the firearms
The number one enemy of handguns and long firearms is corrosion. Let it sit on a place with high-moisture and rust will start to creep in. The plastic, copper, and lead content is a terrible combination when it comes to rusting so make sure that you clean the gun before storing it. Don’t let moisture accumulate on the gunpowder since this will cause accidents when the gun is fired.
I suggest that you use an ammonia-free cleaner like the Sage and Braker’s CLP. It’s a solvent, protectant, and lubricant in one. You just have to spray it into your gun’s barrel and the solution will infiltrate deeper to remove gunk. Aside from cleaning, it will also leave a protective layer in the gun against corrosion and static. This means that your gun will be reliable during emergency situations.
The good thing about this cleaner is it doesn’t bear an overpowering smell, just a faint pine scent. Although this chemical is non-toxic, I suggest that you store it somewhere else aside from your safe. It might leak and damage other possessions inside.
7. Use a dehumidifier
If you have a terrible problem about moisture inside your home, it’s pressing that you use a dehumidifier inside your safe. You can purchase a mini portable dehumidifier powered by rechargeable batteries and leave it inside the safe. Most of the time, dehumidifiers will last up to two months before needing to recharge. If you only have a small safe, a desiccant would be preferable as a way on how to maintain a gun safe.
For a commercial choice of a dehumidifier, I suggest that you check out the SnapSafe Rechargeable Gun Safe Dehumidifier. One charging can last a month while covering 500 cubic feet overall. You don’t need any batteries here since this has a built-in power storage. There are crystals inside that will indicate the saturation of the atmosphere. Just avoid charging this inside the safe since the device generates a lot of heat.
If you prefer a desiccant, the Absorbent Industries Dry Packs would be excellent. It comes in a pack of 10 of non-toxic silica gel that will absorb moisture. Each pack can hold moisture of up to 40% its weight. If your safe is bigger, store more than two of the packs for optimal absorption.
8. Bolt it
A small gun safe is prone to falling. This will cause dents and damages to the locking system if done numerous times. So to maintain the quality of your gun vault, you might as well bolt it down to the floor or on the wall. It will reduce the risk of theft and your kids from playing with the safe. How to maintain a gun safe? Make sure that you bolt the safe on a concrete slab, especially if it’s very heavy. The problem is that most bedrooms will have a wooden floor. This isn’t an issue, but if you’re worried about theft, this offers a little less security for your vault.
Bolting your safe will also reduce the risk of tipping the small vault. This is important if you’re sharing the safe with someone else or you’re hard-headed enough to store a loaded gun. You might also be storing sharp and delicate objects that can hurt someone or get damaged in the process.
I suggest that you bolt the safe in an inconspicuous spot like your closet or the wall behind it. Hiding it behind the curtains would also do the trick for drop down models.
9. Use a gun rack
If you’re a gun enthusiast, chances are you have a big safe packed with numerous long firearms and handguns. The biggest sin here is stacking the long firearms without using a rack. Your guns may get damaged or fall off when you open the door of the safe.
A gun rack will organize your firearms so you can easily access it when needed. Can you imagine rummaging through your safe just to get your rifle? That’s not how to maintain a gun safe. Also, an unorganized collection of guns is dangerous especially if you keep forgetting to unload it. Long firearms don’t have a lock feature, once an unloaded one fell, there’s a high chance that it will fire.
For a space-conscious yet aesthetic choice, I suggest that you get a rack like the Winchester Run-Around Susan Gun Rack. It will hold up to 12 guns in a rotating display. This uses a silicone rubber system to ensure that your rifles won’t slip.
Overall, the rack stands 39 inches tall, but you can adjust the height lower if your firearms are shorter than usual. In case you find the 12-gun model too big, you can opt for the 8-gun piece.
Knowing how to maintain a gun safe is the same as keeping your firearms and valuables safe. This process will ensure that your vault is working optimally. The last thing you want to happen is a safe door jamming during a house invasion.