How to Open a Jammed Door: 7 Simple Tricks

Trying to open a jammed bedroom door can be frustrating and sometimes it may seem downright impossible. Luckily, opening a stuck door doesn’t have to be as difficult as it may seem at first. There are several highly effective solutions that can help you fix the problem quickly and without much effort.

Here are ways to open a jammed door:

  1. Play with the positioning of the doorknob and the key
  2. Try using a credit card, bobby pins, or a screwdriver
  3. Lubricate the lock
  4. Pick the lock
  5. Remove the hinges
  6. Take the doorknob off
  7. Call a locksmith

Keep reading to find out more about how to execute each of these approaches correctly. Afterward, you’ll be equipped with all the knowledge you’ll need to open any jammed bedroom door in no time.

1. Play With the Doorknob and the Key

This first approach is often the most intuitive out of all. Sometimes, all you need to do is slightly change the positioning of the movement you’re doing. Remember that the more force you use when you pick the lock, the better it likely works.

So, before going for more complex solutions, try moving the key in both directions instead of pushing it to a point where it obviously can’t go. Turning the key in the opposite direction first and then trying to open the door again can help remove the mechanism from a position where it may have been stuck.

Additionally, sometimes you can fully move the key counterclockwise, but it doesn’t mean that the mechanism is unlocked. So if you have turned your key, and the door still doesn’t seem to open, go against your intuition to close the lock and try opening it again. Sometimes you’ll need to go through the counterclockwise movement twice before the mechanism can fully open.

In short, if your key seems to turn fully in your desired direction, try going through the same movement again, as the lock may not have responded as it should to your first attempt. Don’t try to re-close the door and open it again, since it may make your situation even more confusing. 

Another simple solution may be to try pulling or pushing the door while simultaneously turning the key. The reasoning behind this technique is the same as with the first one. Doors jam mainly because the inner working fragments may have encountered a blockage and can’t move.

Pushing or pulling onto the doorknob can move the mechanism just enough to remove the blockage and move freely again. Whether pushing or pulling, carefully move the mechanism in all four directions one at a time, as this can help you better pinpoint and solve your problem compared to randomly budging the doorknob around.

Always try to apply consistent and firm pressure on every movement you make without using too much force. The amount of power you’re applying is of the essence, as sometimes you can cause severe structural damages while doing so. More often than not, the solution is simpler than you may think, so always try out these techniques before looking for other alternatives.

2. Try Using a Credit Card, Bobby Pins, or a Screwdriver

There are a lot of household objects that can help pry a jammed door open. Solving this problem doesn’t necessarily require professional help or an extensive toolbox. By learning how to use a few of these items correctly, you can open your stuck bedroom door in a matter of minutes.

Using a Credit Card

This is one of the most common techniques out there, although it can only work if you have a door with spring locks or deadbolts. Before continuing with any further steps, make sure that the card you’re using is either old or doesn’t hold much value, as it may get damaged in the process.

Then, slide the plastic card in the space between the door and its frame. The frame is the segment where the latch is located. This movement will help to force back the closing mechanism if done correctly mechanically.

You can try out different movements and pressure levels and shake the card back and forth when feeling some resistance to it. This maneuver will allow any blockage to displace, and the mechanism can move from its current position and slide freely.

If you can’t fit a credit card in the narrow space between the door and the frame, use a rectangle cut out of a plastic bottle. The material will be less durable but more flexible and able to operate in tighter spaces.

Alternatively, you could insert the card in the space between the door and its frame right above the lock. Doing so will provide better leverage and range of motion, while still being able to maneuver within a limited area. You will need to gain a bit of experience before perfecting these techniques, though, as they tend to be significantly more challenging than going the straightforward route.

When swiping, remember to point downwards and angle, and wedge the card as best as you can to push back the latch until it’s fully retracted. Afterward, you should be able to open the door without even turning the handle or doorknob.

Remember that while thicker and sturdier cards may apply more pressure, they can’t always get into the narrow space they need to. Therefore, it’s best to keep a few different thickness card options with you to adapt to the situation quickly.

Using a Bobby Pin

This is another widely-used tool utilized for a long time to open stuck or jammed doors successfully. You can start by inserting the bobby pin into the lock and moving it around to apply the necessary pressure needed to reposition it.

When picking and setting pins, you’ll need to constantly use adequate and even pressure, as the slightest slip can take you back to square one.

When inserting the bobby pin into the lock, make sure that the smaller hook is facing towards the pins. Afterward, you can slightly lift each pin, starting from the back. Most pins should feel relatively easy to move, except for the binding pin, which can feel stiffer and more difficult to move.

When using bobby pins, you’ll need to apply pressure in an upwards direction, as opposed to using a credit card. This approach may take a little more time and effort, but it can be a beneficial skill to have in a challenging situation.

Watch this YouTube video to see how this whole process works:

Using a Screwdriver

Alternatively, if you don’t have any of the previous options on hand, you can try to pry open your bedroom door using a screwdriver. This approach works by sliding down a screwdriver between the door and the frame, similar to what you would do using a credit card. When you feel that the tool has reached the latch, you can start pushing against it to open up the door manually.

A screwdriver can often work better than a credit card due to its increased durability, force, and optimal shape. The tool is also ideal for reaching deeper slots and crevices inside the mechanism. This is why screwdrivers are one of the most widely used methods to pry open a stuck door. Having said that, you can’t always fit it in the narrow space needed, so this solution can take some trial and error.

3. Lubricate the Lock

Sometimes, the reason why your bedroom door is stuck can be simpler than you think. With constant use over time, the mechanism starts to lose its mobility due to continuous friction. Therefore, a simple clean and lubrication may be all it takes to return the door to its functioning state.

However, oil may not be the right lubricant here, as it can sometimes facilitate the jamming instead of fixing it. Rather, see if you can go for a graphite powder in spray form since it’s more effective.

As I mentioned, be careful not to overdo it, as using too much lubricant may have the opposite effect of what you’re trying to achieve. Here are three simple ways to execute this approach.

4. Pick the Lock

Picking the lock can require a little more time and effort to execute, but it can be effective in almost all instances. Here are the steps to picking the lock:

Trying to open a stuck door by picking the lock.

Preparation

Before you start, acquire all of the tools you’ll need and start preparing the lock itself.

Gathering your supplies before starting the process can be extremely helpful later on when you need to change and use different tools simultaneously while trying to apply constant pressure on the lock.

Generally speaking, you’ll need a tension wrench, pick, and raking tools. If you don’t have any picking tools or pins, you can substitute them for some more accessible options, like bobby pins and paperclips. This substitution won’t affect your final result.

You can’t safely pick any lock without going through this step; most locks need to be prepared first, while some aren’t even worth a try in the first place. Therefore, to ensure your safety, make sure not to skip this process.

More importantly, be thorough when assessing the type and extent of your problem, as trying to pick a lock within a severely damaged mechanism can do more harm than good. Therefore, be honest when considering your abilities to deal with your specific issue, and don’t hesitate to ask for professional help if you don’t feel up for the job.

For this reason, before you’re ready to start picking, check the lock’s general condition to see if it’s functional and not damaged or broken in any way. You can’t pick a broken lock no matter how hard you try. If the lock seems dry or rusty, try lubricating it first using the method I previously explained. Otherwise, you’re ready to proceed to the next step.

Understanding the Lock Mechanism

To pick a lock, you need to understand perfectly how its mechanism works. When you insert your key into a lock, its ridges push a series of pins, which allows the lock mechanism to turn and open. The number of pins can vary depending on the model you have, but you can usually find four to eight pins on a standard door lock.

To successfully open a jammed door, you’ll need to apply some tension on the keyway with your tension wrench. Then, using your pick (or bobby pin or paperclip), push up the pins inside the keyway one by one.

When you lift one of the pins far enough, the applied tension from the wrench will prevent it from falling, and you can move on to the next pin. After repeating this process with all of them, the door should be completely open and free to use.

Picking the Lock

Now it’s time to start working with your wrench. You’ll need to insert its shorter side into the bottom of the keyway while gently turning it and applying pressure to the plug. It’s easy to use more force than needed in this case, so remember to be gentle and careful when putting pressure on the wrench.

While applying constant force, you can take the picks I mentioned earlier and insert them into the keyway to feel the outline of the pins to determine which one is the most accessible.

Afterward, apply pressure to that pin in particular until you think its springs have loosened and stopped working. Repeat the process while keeping track of the ones you’ve gone over once.

Usually, one or two pins may be stiffer and have more resistance than others. Don’t let this deter you, as it’s normal. Just slowly and surely increase the pressure until you feel the springs give out. Try not to apply too much force at once, though, as the mechanism can break easily.

When you encounter a pin that’s particularly tenser and harder to move, the chances are that it’s the binding pin. To find it, you’ll want to increase the pressure with the tension wrench, pick lightly to apply tension, and then release the pressure. When you get to the binding pin, you’ll need to maintain a constant pressure as steadily as you can, as one wrong move can erase all your previous work.

Now you can start lifting the pins one by one while still maintaining the same pressure level with your wrench. Repeat this process until all pins are set. This will allow you to completely open the lock, which, in turn, will enable the door to move the door freely without constrictions.

Although this may seem like an extensive and challenging process, you can master it relatively quickly with some dedication and practice. Afterward, you’ll be able to pick almost any lock within minutes. You can follow this process visually by watching this YouTube video:

5. Remove the Hinges

Removing the hinges out of the structure entirely is one of the easiest ways to open a jammed door, but it does require further involvement and effort after the fact. The process is pretty straightforward; with enough attention and care, anyone can do it.

Start by locating the hinges and carefully examining them to determine whether they’re in working condition or not. This step is essential because when it comes to damaged or broken hinges, they can be unpredictable and therefore a bit trickier to work with.

The first thing you’ll need to do is loosen the screws, securing the hinge by inserting a screwdriver between the top of the door’s hinge and the bolt head securing it. By applying constant pressure onto the bolt, start prying it loose. When it looks like the bolt is flexible enough to move, lift it out while making sure that you’re supporting the door to keep it in place.

You’ll need to repeat the process for any alternative hinges to remove the whole structure at once. Once you’ve removed all hinges, the door will be fully movable, letting you remove the latch from the door’s frame.

This straightforward approach guarantees to solve your problem, but you’ll be left with the task of putting the mechanism together again. This time, before reassembling, make sure that whatever was causing the jamming problem in the first place is well-understood and solved. This step is crucial, as you don’t want to go through this process every time you need to access your bedroom.

6. Take the Doorknob Off

Taking the doorknob off can be another surefire method to open a jammed bedroom door. However, further work and repairs may be required when using this approach, like the previous alternative.

Before starting to work on your doorknob, you’ll need to examine it thoroughly. You want to look for a slot or hole that you can use as an entryway by which to access the doorknob. Choosing the correct entry point is the only way to release the mechanism quickly and effortlessly.

There are several approaches you can take to release the knob, depending on how it’s fastened. If the entryway is a slot, you can insert a flathead screwdriver and push the detent until it’s fully released.

If you’re working with a small hole, you can release the knob using only a paperclip. You can utilize a straightened paper clip or any type of firm wire to spring the mechanism and loosen it up.

Another efficient way to approach the process would be using the same wrench that I mentioned earlier in the lock picking section. If you can access the entryway with a wrench, you can proceed to turn it counterclockwise, which will fully release the doorknob.

After releasing the knob, the next step would be to remove the rose, which, in some cases, needs to be removed separately. This can help expose all the screws that are keeping the backing plate installed into the door. If you choose this approach, you’ll want to locate the space between the plate and the door, where you can insert a flathead screwdriver. Doing so will make the rose release and fall off.

Using the same screwdriver, you can continue the process by removing the screws from one backing plate to the other. These are the screws that hold the knob and latch mechanisms together. This is the reason why after removing them, you can quickly move the entire structure, including the knob, latch, and backing plates.

Now that the doorknob is removed, you can open the jammed door effortlessly.

7. Call a Locksmith

Although you’d rather try any of these solutions to fix the problem yourself, sometimes it isn’t possible. Your door can often get stuck due to more complex malfunctions that most homeowners lack the expertise and qualifications to deal with.

Therefore, if you’ve tried some of these alternatives and are still struggling with a difficult-to-access door, it might be time to call a locksmith for a professional opinion.

Depending on the type of problem that is causing your door to jam, some solutions might even cause further harm instead of helping the situation. For example, over-lubricating your knob or using oil to do so can cause serious damage to the door’s structure. The same can be said for all the other alternatives if you use too much force or put pressure on the wrong part of the mechanism.

In any case, it’s usually better to err on the side of safety and ask for professional help whenever possible, as it can help you solve your problem much more efficiently and safely. With so many options on the market today, getting quality professional help doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming.

Opening a Jammed Door: Key Takeaways

Opening a jammed bedroom door can be as easy as it can be difficult, depending on the root cause of the problem. Usually, a stuck door can be opened with simple tricks and solutions that any homeowner can do. These solutions include prying the door open, picking the lock, and removing the hinges or the doorknob.

Sometimes the cause may be more complex, and fixing it yourself can cause more harm than good. If you feel like you don’t have the necessary skills to open your jammed door, always ask for help from your local locksmith.

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