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How to Open a Locked Bathroom Door from Outside

by Guest on Dec 18, 2015

So you've found yourself locked out of the bathroom, unsure of how to proceed. Luckily, you've likely got all the tools you need to be out of this predicament right in front of you. Before you try anything drastic, most and especially newer houses are fitted with simple locking mechanisms that can be easily prompted open.

Privacy Handles

Privacy handles come in a variety of shapes, including long metal handles and round knobs of plastic or metal. The locking mechanisms are either push-button or twisted. The common factor of these door handles is that they have small openings on the outside into which tools can be inserted to unlock the door.

Push-button locks usually only require a straightened paperclip to be inserted in the hole until the lock disengages. Other privacy handles may need a screwdriver or hex wrench to fit the unlocking mechanism inside the handle. Once the correct tool is fitted, twist counter-clockwise to unlock the door. This may take a couple of tries, but privacy doors are meant to be opened in the case of an emergency. Most door-handle sets come with proper tools and those should be kept somewhere readily available.

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Photo by CocoparisienneCC0 1.0

Call a Locksmith

If you discover your door is not equipped with a privacy lock, the next best thing for you to do is call a locksmith. These are professionals who will be able to open your door without damaging the lock, knob or door frame. While there are other methods for opening a locked door if you are not properly trained you could end up damaging your property.

A locksmith will also have helpful advice on how to prevent future lockouts.

Using a Credit Card

In older houses, you may be able to unlock a door using a credit card or other hard, flexible and thin object. Slide your card between the door and door-frame, above the bolt, angling the card down a bit. Turn the handle as you slowly and firmly pull the card down at the angle, hoping the disengage a beveled bolt lock. The card should pull the bolt from the frame long enough to slip the card between the door-frame and the lock, allowing you to push the door open.

Be very careful to avoid damaging your credit card.

Disassembling the Knob

If you have the right tools and some patience, you can try to disassemble the knob to access the lock's inner workings. If your knob has exterior screws, you're very lucky. Simply unscrew the exterior screws found on the collar or escutcheon plate. If there are no screws, look for a slit around the throat of the knob, which can be activated using a flat head screwdriver. This will pull the escutcheon plate away from the door.

Once the exterior is unscrewed, pull the knob and collar away from the door. Then you will be able to manipulate the mechanism which turns the bolt, though you may need a screwdriver or butter knife to move the parts.

Unhinge the Door

If you have access to the hinges of your door, removing the pins is an option. Put a wedge under your door before beginning to reduce hinge and door damage. Insert a Phillips head screwdriver up from under the hinge, gently tapping with a hammer until the hinge pin loosens. Do not remove the loosened pins until they are all complete. Once the pins are removed, carefully open the door from the hinge side, gently pulling the bolt from its place in the jamb.

Never Try to Break a Door Down

It is never advisable to attempt to break down a door. Doing so not only presents hazards to the person using bodily force to break a barrier, but also to your door and frame. Attempting to break down your door will probably result in a much more costly fix than simply hiring a locksmith and should only be used in extreme emergencies. 

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