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How to Fix a Demagnetized Key Fob or Keycard

Picture this:  you’re running late for an important meeting at work. Frantically, you slap on your seatbelt, turn the keys, and whip out of the neighborhood. Just as you swerve down the road and take a deep breath,  you realize— 

You forgot your laptop at home. 

So you turn around, race back to your gated multifamily community, and you roll up to your card reader to slap your keycard against it. 

And…nothing. The gate sits stubbornly in front of you. 

A nightmare, right? 

Now before you start calling every neighbor in the directory and beg to be let in, there are luckily actionable steps you can take to find yourself out of this sticky situation.

In this guide, we'll explore troubleshooting tips, demagnetization mysteries, the workings of magnetized key fobs, and a couple of keyless entry alternative options. 

Navigate this article

  • Troubleshooting an Unresponsive Key Fob 
  • How do Magnetized Key Fobs Work?
  • Why do Key Fobs Demagnetize?
  • Alternatives to Magnetized Key Fobs and Cards
  • Finding the Best Access Control System 

Troubleshoot an Unresponsive Key Fob 

Before you start calling for backup after a faulty keycard experience, let's dive into some simple troubleshooting steps that might just save the day:

  • Check the Battery: Sometimes batteries decide to take a vacation without letting you know. Grab a fresh battery, give the old one the boot, and see if your key fob springs back to life.
  • Clean the Contacts: You know what they say, cleanliness is key (fob)! Over time, dirt and debris can accumulate on the key fob's contacts, causing connectivity issues. Gently clean the contacts with a soft cloth or a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.
  • Reset the Fob: Some key fobs have a reset button or sequence. Consult the manufacturer's instructions to determine if your key fob can be reset and follow the steps accordingly.

What to Do If the Key Fob or Key Card Won’t Work 

If you've followed our troubleshooting steps to the letter and your stubborn key fob is still snoozing. 

Here's your action plan: 

  • Contact Your Property Manager: It's time to dial up your trusty property manager. Give them the scoop on your persistent key fob issues and make sure to impress them with your troubleshooting skills. Tell them about the battery swaps, contact cleaning, and reset button searches you've already tried. 
  • Request Assistance: Ask your property manager or their trusty maintenance team to swoop in and investigate the issue. Oftentimes, the property manager will reissue you a new fob so you don't have to deal with the inconvenience of waiting for the problem to be solved. 

How Do Magnetized Key Fobs Work? 

Now there are a couple of ways to avoid demagnetizing your keycard or fob in the first place, but first, let's explore how magnetized key fobs work.

Magnetized key fobs rely on the principles of electromagnetism.

Inside the fob, a small magnet generates a magnetic field that interacts with the corresponding receiver in the access control system. 

When you hold your key fob near the reader, the magnetic field triggers a response, allowing you to gain access to your building effortlessly.

Why Do Key Fobs Demagnetize?

Brace yourself, detective, there are a few possible suspects:

  1. Magnetic Interference: Exposure to strong magnetic fields, such as those generated by electronic devices or magnets, can disrupt the magnetic properties of the key fob or keycard, rendering it useless.
  2. Physical Damage: Dropping or mishandling the key fob can damage its internal components, including the magnet, leading to demagnetization.
  3. Environmental Factors: Extreme temperatures, moisture, and humidity can impact the integrity of the key fob or card, causing it to demagnetize over time.

Preventing Future Demagnetization

If your property access credentials are stored on a magnetized keycard (and you are like most people) then you are properly tempted to place the card in your wallet for safekeeping.

While this is a convenient storage place, wallets can often be the primary source of demagnetization of your keycards. The magnetic strips in credit cards, debit cards, or even other key cards can interfere with each other and cause the magnets to shift and result in a faulty card. 

One way to counteract this is by purchasing a specialty-designed wallet that protects against RFID interference.

However, this is only useful as long as you avoid storing your keycard or fob in close contact with your cell phone can also cause demagnetization. This is a common annoyance in cards with lower RFID frequencies.  But it doesn’t end there – purse or clothing magnets can even desensitize the magnetic strip in your key card.

To play it safe, store your keycards or fobs in less sensitive locations like in a designated pocket in your bag or slip a plastic sleeve over the card.

Alternatives to Magnetic Key Fobs 

While magnetic key fobs are commonly used in multifamily residential properties, there are alternative access control options worth considering:

  1. RFID Key Cards: Say hello to the sleek and savvy RFID key cards! These nifty cards use radio waves to communicate with the access control system. Compact, easy to use, and with a lower risk of demagnetization, they offer a reliable alternative to the magnetic fobs we're all familiar with. Just tap or wave your card, and voila, access granted!
  2. Mobile Apps: Imagine using your trusty companion, your ever-present smartphone, as a virtual key. With the rise of mobile app solutions, access control systems now offer the convenience of accessing your residential building with just a few taps on your screen. Bluetooth or NFC technology works its magic, transforming your phone into a powerful key that unlocks the doors to your apartment. 

Access point reader in use 2(mobile credentials)-1

  1. Biometric Solutions: Biometric access control systems take security to a whole new level with the wonders of fingerprints or retinal scans. These unique biological traits grant you access with a touch or a glance, offering enhanced security and eliminating the worry of losing or misplacing your key. 


The Best Access Control System

When it comes to access control for multifamily properties, LittleBird stands out as the ideal choice. With its innovative features and user-friendly interface, LittleBird offers a seamless access control experience for both residents and property managers.

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  1. Contactless Entry: LittleBird utilizes advanced technology like mobile apps and QR codes to provide contactless entry, minimizing physical contact and enhancing convenience.
  2. Easy Administration: Property managers can efficiently manage access permissions, track entry logs, and communicate with residents through the LittleBird platform, simplifying administrative tasks.
  3. Enhanced Security: LittleBird prioritizes the security of residents and their belongings. With encrypted data transmission and robust authentication protocols, residents can enjoy peace of mind knowing their building is protected.

Final Thoughts…

  • The magnetic properties of keycards and fobs are very sensitive, so be mindful of where you store them.
  • If your keycard or fob has become demagnetized, reach out to your property manager and ask for assistance.
  • As a property manager, replacing and reprogramming keycards or fobs can get old. Let LittleBird help make your life easier!

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