Drill: Chocking Magnetic Locks

By Samuel Hittle

Increasing numbers of commercial properties with aluminum style doors are using magnetic locks to protect their establishments. One of the many benefits of this type of device is that the door will self-lock when the lock body (the magnet attached to the frame) and armature (the suck board attached to the door) reestablish contact.

Ensuring access continuity depends on the constant separation of the lock body and armature. Chocks are inherently disposed to being knocked out of position, allowing the door to swing closed. Nails successfully attaching to the lock body lack reliability. Why? The answers follow:

  1. Today’s systems are set on a programmable delay with card readers, proximity access controls, and numerical keypads. Once access is granted, the lock withholds an electrical charge for the preset period before reactivating. This allows the individual time to enter. Without the electrical charge, our nail will not magnetize and stay. Some systems are set for 60-second waits.
  2. Motion detectors are being installed on the egress side to eliminate the need for occupants to initiate an unlocking action when exiting. As individuals approach the door from the interior, the motion detector deactivates the lock. With this configuration, even if our nail holds initially, we will trigger the motion sensor by walking in. This will deactivate the magnet and drop our nail.  

An alternative to chocks and relying on magnetism in the presence of a pivoting deadbolt is to activate or manipulate the throw. Activate the thumb latch (if one exists); if double-keyed, manipulate it. All pivoting deadbolts have an arm that operates on an axis. Using a nail to depress this in a slightly downward manner will engage the throw. This will prevent the door from shutting and making the necessary contact between the lock body and armature to lock.

Download this drill as a PDF HERE (4.1 MB)


Samuel Hittle is a lieutenant with the Wichita (KS) Fire Department and an instructor with Traditions Training, LLC.

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