How to Open Simple Lock

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Losing the key to a lock can be a stressful experience, especially if your child has locked himself on the other side of the door. Fortunately, most of the locks in your house are simple mechanisms that can be opened with the right technique and the proper household tools. Take a deep breath and a good look at the lock you wish to conquer before embarking on your lock-opening adventure.

Things You'll Need

  • Credit card
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Nail file or butter knife

Opening the Lock

  • Determine what type of lock needs to be opened. Types of locks include pin-and-tumbler and latch locks. If the lock is higher security than a bathroom or bedroom privacy lock, you will most likely need locksmith tools to open it. You can open some pin-and-tumbler locks with simple tools if they are getting old and their hardware is worn.

  • Choose your tools. If the lock is a pin-and-tumbler lock, like on your front door, you may be able to open it with a credit card. To do this, guide a credit card into your door where the latch is and try to trigger the locking latch with the credit card. You may have to flex and bend the card somewhat to get it to trigger the latch, so don't use a card you wouldn't want damaged. Picking your lock with a credit card will not work if you have a metal guard protecting your latch from this picking technique.
    If the lock is a latch on the other side, get something stiff, long and thin enough to slip through the door, such as a butter knife or nail file. Slide your chosen tool in such a way as to dislodge the latch.
    If you are trying to open a bedroom or bathroom privacy lock, you will probably do best with a long and thin flathead screwdriver.

  • Try the simplest unlocking method first. Unlocking a bedroom or bathroom privacy lock can require you to employ one of a variety of techniques, but you may forget to try the most obvious of techniques. The unlocking mechanism may be as simple as a screwdriver notch on the outside part of the doorknob, or it may have a hole that hides an enigmatic latch. Sometimes, for all of your lock opening efforts, all you really have to do is push. If your doorknob has a hole, gently put the screwdriver in the hole and push forward while turning the knob.

  • Look for a way to turn the lock. Try feeling around for a latch or something that feels like a screwdriver notch. When the screwdriver hangs up on a notch, gently try to turn it to unlock the door. If it won't turn one way, try the other direction.

  • If all else fails, try wiggling the doorknob to dislodge the latch. This simple, last minute and seemingly desperate repeated action can produce surprisingly positive results. Wiggling the doorknob can also open doors which do not latch securely, even if they are locked, because the wiggling can sometimes move the door latch enough to open the door.

Tips & Warnings

  • Locks are delicate machinery. Look for subtle changes in the way the lock feels and sounds to determine whether you are on the right track. An ice pick also works for bathroom and bedroom privacy locks.
  • Picking a lock to a room you aren't entitled to is rude at best, and at worst, illegal. Do not use this information to pick anyone's locks but your own.

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