No one anticipates being locked out of his or her own house. Depending on the circumstances, this situation can be anything from a mild annoyance to a serious disaster. The most important thing to remember is not to panic. There are plenty of options for getting back into the house.
A Brief Disclaimer
Before figuring out how to break into their own homes, residents should consider more practical options. Even if money is tight, if you get locked out, calling a locksmith is always the best solution. These experts can resolve the problem quickly and easily without risking property damage or arousing the suspicions of neighbors.
For those who take home security seriously, calling a locksmith is the only viable option. Remember: if a homeowner or renter can break into the property without difficulty, so can uninvited visitors. Instead of breathing a sigh of relief about security soft-spots that make it easier to get back into the house, residents should view them for what they are: serious risks.
Method #1: Get in Through the Window
If there’s an open window on the first floor of the home, gaining entry may be pretty easy. Most residents know better than to leave first-floor windows open and unlocked, though. Remember: that’s a good thing when it comes to home security.
When there aren’t any open first-floor windows, things can get a little more complicated. Look for open casement windows or second-story windows. If there’s a ladder available, getting in through the second floor may be a possibility. Just make sure to check in with the neighbors first to let them know what happened and reduce the chances of arousing suspicions.
Already know there aren’t any open windows, at all? Don’t break the glass. Instead, head to the tool shed or borrow a flathead screwdriver from the neighbor and use it to remove the window beading and pry the glass from the frame. Be very careful with the window glass. It breaks easily, and those broken shards are extremely sharp.
Method #2: Open Spring Latches With a Plastic Card
Spring latches are designed to move with the handle as it’s turned when the door is unlocked. Modern locks and deadbolts are designed to withstand break-ins better than older spring latches, so this method will only work if the door and its hardware are pretty old. However, if the door has a spring latch and the deadbolt isn’t set, it’s worth a shot.
Choose a non-essential plastic card to try this method, as it could be damaged. Wedge it into the space between the door and its frame right in front of the lock. There should be an angled wedge facing towards the outside of the door. Use the card like a lever to disengage the latch until the door starts to give, then push it open. If this method works, consider changing the door hardware because that lock is not providing very good security.
Method #3: Remove the Door or Lock
Modern locks are effective at preventing doors from opening, but they won’t do any good if the door is no longer on its hinges. People who have access to all the right tools and know-how to use them may be able to gain entry to their homes without damaging the door or the hardware by removing the locked doorknob, or even the entire door.
Start by checking the doorknob. If there are screws, use a screwdriver to remove them. If there’s a small hole in the side of the knob, use a paperclip. Some locks can be disengaged immediately once the doorknob has been removed, while others have secondary mounting plates. If the lock’s hardware is only accessible from the inside, don’t even bother trying.
If the doorknob isn’t going anywhere, try taking the door off its hinges by removing the hinge pins. A thin nail and some moderate force applied from the bottom opening are usually enough to send them flying. If like the doorknob hardware, the hinge pins are only accessible from the inside, this method won’t work. Again, that’s a good thing. It means strangers can’t easily break into the house.
Method #4: Enter Through the Garage Door
If the home has an attached garage and the door to the interior isn’t locked, getting in using this method might be the best way to go. Start by finding a wire coat hanger and bending it into a hooked rod. Insert the rod with the hook facing in through the gap at the top of the garage door. If there’s no gap, this method won’t work.
Once the hook is inside the garage, start feeling around for the manual door release latch. It should be located right below the arm for the opener. Pull with steady pressure until the latch disengages and slide open the garage door to gain entrance.
Method #5: Ask for Help
Most renters consider calling their landlords for help the last resort, especially if they aren’t local or particularly responsive. It’s better to leave a copy of the key with a trusted friend or family member. Those who are embarrassed to admit they’ve locked themselves out or don’t want to inconvenience loved ones should consider the alternative. In most neighborhoods, neighbors frown on home break-ins, even when they’re being performed in broad daylight by the people who live there.
The best person to call to help get into a home is a locksmith. Homeowners who’ve managed to resolve their problems without professional help aren’t off the hook, either. If it was that easy to get into the home, it’s time to reconsider home security. Renters may not have that option, but they can take up security concerns with their landlords.
The Bottom Line
It’s sometimes possible for a home’s residents to gain entry without a key if everything lines up properly in their favor. That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. It’s always better to call a locksmith. Emergency locksmiths provide quick service and they can make recommendations about how to avoid getting locked out in the future or improve home security to make sure no one else can get in without a key.