A locked door can be a very effective home security measure. When the lock becomes stuck and prevents the door from opening, though, that door can become a nuisance that demands immediate repair. This article will explain how to get a locked door open and restore its functionality.
Jimmy the lock. Using a thin, flat, but sturdy item--like a credit card or putty knife--attempt to access the angled side of the door latch and push it into the door's recess. A door latch is designed to recede into the door while the lock simply prevents the door handle from turning. Using the flat, sturdy tool to jimmy the lock will allow the door to be opened and allow you to skip Step 2 below. Keep in mind that not all doors can be jimmied; entry doors and doors with a tight door jamb may not allow entry of the jimmying tool. In addition, a deadbolt can not be jimmied.
Take the door off the hinges. If the door does not allow the lock to be jimmied open, it may be necessary to remove the door from its hinges. Insert a long, sturdy item with a flat tip--preferably a flathead screwdriver, if available--between the top rang of the door's top hinge and the head of the bolt securing the door to the hinge. Firmly pry the bolt loose, then lift it out of the hinge; holding the door in place, repeat this process for the bottom hinge. When the door is free, remove the latch from the door frame (unlocking the door) then reassemble the hinges to secure the door to the wall.
Remove the old lock. Locate the screws holding the lock in place on the inside of the door. If the malfunctioning lock is in the door handle, there will be at least two screws securing the door handle to the door; remove these screws, unscrew one side of the door knob, and pull the door handle and lock assembly out of the door. The process for removing a deadbolt is similar, but does not require unscrewing the door handle and may only require removal of a single screw.
Install a new lock. If the troublesome door is an entry door or otherwise provides access to your home, it will be necessary to replace the broken lock with a functional lock assembly. These assemblies are readily available at home improvement stores, hardware stores, and discount chain retailers and vary in price from very inexpensive to hundreds of dollars. Follow the instructions that come with your selected lock assembly for installation. With the new lock assembly in place, the door should be restored to full functionality.
It is possible that the door may be stuck because of settling activity in the house; if you suspect your home has settled and altered the doorway, consult a reputable, licensed contractor.
Be sure to properly secure any entry doors, as an unlocked entry door may be a safety hazard to your home.