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How to Open A Stuck Door?

How to Open A Stuck Door?

We’ve all been there, trying to jiggle open a stuck door.

It might have been a cupboard, a door, or even an exterior door that won’t let you in or out of the house.

The unfortunate luck of being unable to get a stuck door to open can make you feel helpless and look frantically for ways to tear it down.

But before you go on to such extreme measures, there are some ways to get the stuck door open.

A few ways to open a stuck door are to try jiggling it open, using a credit card or bobby pin to slide the lock open, taking the doorknob off, or even completely taking the door off its hinges if nothing else works.

Read on to learn more about how to open a stuck door.

Opening Door

DIY Steps: How To Open A Stuck Door

The first step to opening a stuck door is taking a look at what might be causing the problem.

The second step is using the right way to resolve the problem and the door will open up.

Here are a few reason why a door might be stuck in the first place.

1. Old Lock

If the door bolt has rusted because of the lock being too old, no lock picking trick will work because the door lock itself is not working properly.

The most effective technique if this is the problem is removing the hinges. However, this technique is only workable if you are stuck on the inside or there is someone to help you from the inside.

Using a pin to push out the pin in the hinges is an option. If the hinges are secured in place with a screw, using a flat tip screwdriver might just do the trick.

Pry the hinge loose and while holding the door in place, loosen the other hinges.

When the door is free from the hinge side, you can remove the stuck lock which will unlock the door.

2. Damaged Or Worn Out Key

A worn out key or a damaged key means the door can either not close or open.

Either way, it is a problematic situation. If the key is broken in the lock, you can use the sharp end of the scissor to take out the key and try another key to open the lock.

If you don’t have access to another key, you can try a lock picking we will discuss later.

3. A Swollen Door

At times, swollen wood during the humid season might result in the door getting stuck. The simplest way to open it is trying to jiggle it open.

If the jamb is stuck because of the swollen wood, using the de-hinging technique might work.

4. A Sticky And Dirty Locking Mechanism

Many times, locks get stuck because of a dirty or unoiled locking mechanism.

However, if the lock has become sticky and gummed up, it is probably best to call a locksmith who can remove the lock and clean it.

The locksmith might also recommend replacing the lock if the pins are worn out.

5. A Mechanical Misalignment Problem

At times locks might misaligned causing the latch to get stuck.

A bright light in the crack of the locked door and the frame can show if the latch is moving when you are turning the lock.

If it is not, applying a pressure on the latch can resolve the issue temporarily.

If the lock is activated by a thumb turn, trying to turn it again and again might cause the latch to engage with the bolt and open the door.

A locksmith can repair such locks by resolving the misalignment issue.

But till it is resolved, it is advised not to lock a misaligned door otherwise it might cause a problem again.

Opened door

Other Ways To Open A Stuck Door

While these are some of the common problems that cause doors to jam and lock, at times you might not be able to pinpoint the issue which has caused the jam.

In this case, you can try out techniques that are successful in opening jammed locks given that the locks are not old and rusted.

Read on to find out about the other techniques to open a stuck door:

1. Opening A Stuck Door By Picking It    

Picking a lock is not as simple as it may seem like.

One has to learn how to skillfully work with the Allen wrench while using a paperclip or a hairclip to pick the lock.

The Allen wrench is used to apply pressure to the lower edge of the keyhole so the lock turns when a slightly crooked unbent paper clip or a bobby pin is used to jiggle the lock.

There are two methods to picking a lock. In the first method, the paperclip is pushed at the keyhole’s lower side. Then lift the clip upwards and pull it  back at the same time.

Repeat it and each time slightly increase the pressure on the Allen wrench when one lock shifts.

The second method of undoing the lock uses the same tools, but a different technique.

When you feel that the paperclip has touched a pin, try catching it on the crooked bent and lift it till you feel it clicking into place.

Repeat it with each pin and the lock with turn when all the pins are unlocked. 

2. Using A Credit Card To Open A Stuck Door

You might have seen this technique in a lot of movies, but it only works on doors with spring locks or deadbolts.

Also, the credit card you are using might get damaged in the process, so it is advised to use a card that you do not actively use.

The process is rather simple. You have to slide the credit card or a plastic card between the door and the latch. Doing so forcefully will force back the latch, thus opening the door.

If there is no crack between the lock and the door, insert the card above the latch and swipe downward while angling towards the hole where the latch sits in.

It helps if the card is thick and sturdy, otherwise it may bend without getting the job done.

3. Fixing A Problematic Key

At times the issue might be with a key that doesn’t work because of a lack of lubrication. This is also highly possible in places where there is cold weather.

To resolve this issue all you have to do is use a small amount of powdered graphite on the key and then insert it in the lock.

With this method, the key can turn smoothly and the stuck lock can be opened.

Another option is to lubricate the keyhole and the key with oil.

This also resolves the issue if there is a slight rusting problem with the key or in the lock.

Rusty lock

When Should You Replace The Lock?

If the key or the lock is rusty, it is advised that it is replaced before it causes any more problems.

Also, if the latch is defected, it is necessary to replace the lock since it does not only pose a threat of getting stuck again, but can also become a target for thieves and lock pickers.

A mechanically misaligned latch and door also need to be replaced or repaired.

In case the door is wooden and swollen because of the humid weather, it is advised that the door is sanded down from the edges to make closing and opening the door easy and smooth.

Summing Up How to Open a Stuck Door

Stuck doors are quite frustrating and might make you late for an appointment or work.

However, there are some simple ways to open a door if you can determine the cause of the jammed lock.

At times you might not know why the door is stuck.

In this case, using a credit card to open the door or picking the lock with an Allen wrench and a bobby pin or a paper clip is a good idea.

However, make sure you get the lock checked by a locksmith afterwards so the problem does not occur again. 

Lindsay Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! I created this website to be a resource for everyone who wants to make the best home possible.