The Downsides of DIY Locksmithing

Picture this scenario: it’s winter in Toronto and you’re locked out of your house. As you shiver on your front steps, you know you want to get inside as soon as possible.

In these situations, it’s tempting to try to enter your house without using keys. However, most methods of doing so have a high potential of harming you or your property. Before you attempt one of the commonly tried methods below, consider their potential consequences.

1. Pick the lock with a bobby pin or other tool.

Most people know that a bobby pin is a go-to method for many would-be lock-pickers. These tiny and inexpensive strips of metal jiggle up and down inside many locks quite easily. With the right amount of wiggling and force, the door might open, depending on your lock.

But what many people don’t know is this method requires a tension or torque wrench. In some cases, it’s possible to fashion a crude one from another bobby pin or a paper clip. But sticking these makeshift tools into your lock can ruin it. They might even get stuck in the lock, leaving you with no option but to replace the lock.

2. Trigger the lock to release with a credit card.

When you’re faced with the inconvenience of being locked out, a simple solution can feel brilliant. Perhaps that’s one reason this somewhat outdated lock-picking method sticks around. Even if you don’t have your keys, you probably have your purse or your wallet – with quite a few plastic cards inside.

Unfortunately, credit cards only work on locks with spring bolts. A spring bolt lock is part of the doorknob; it’s the kind of lock used on interior doors in your house. Some entry doors have spring bolt locks on the bottom, but they’re usually accompanied by a deadbolt or other type of lock. If the door you want to enter through has a deadbolt in the locked position, you cannot break in with a credit card.

The deadbolt problem aside, with this method you stand a good chance of damaging the card and still failing to open the door successfully. You might not mind that much if you’re using a card that’s not your debit card or primary credit card, but that means you have the hassle down the road of needing to replace the card.

Even if your door is only locked with a spring bolt and you don’t care about damaging a plastic card or two, you could still damage your door. To unlock the door with a plastic card, you have to force the card between the door and the frame. To say this can be a tight fit is an understatement. Before you damage your door, consider that replacing your door can cost much more than calling a locksmith.

3. Use a tool to pry open a window near a lock.

You may have heard that some windows are easy to manipulate open with a screwdriver or similar tool. The idea is to loosen the window enough that you can reach your hand in, unbolt the lock, and open the door.

But, in order to even attempt this, you need access to a screwdriver, which you probably don’t have if you’re locked out. Perhaps you could borrow one from a neighbour who’s at home, but obtaining a tool isn’t the only problem with this method.

If you attempt to pry the window open, you have to be careful not to break any glass. You also have to make sure you don’t trap your fingers beneath the partially opened window. The frame could even fall on your hand unexpectedly, which would likely require you to seek medical attention.

Finally, there’s the potential for damage to your window. Even if you do manage to pry it open, you’ll probably ruin its lock in the process. That means your home is now vulnerable to intruders – and next time that intruder might not be you.

4. Break a window.

This entry method sounds similar to the previous option, but it’s more dramatic – and more dangerous. Rather than using a tool to open the window, this method proposes breaking the glass itself. With the glass broken, a person could reach in and unlock a door or crawl through the broken glass. However, this scenario creates obvious hazards – the shards of glass – and we don’t endorse it at all.

Even if you set aside the potential physical harm of using this way to get in, it doesn’t make much sense financially. Any money you save by not calling a locksmith you’ll end up using to replace the window.

The Fail-Safe Solution
These methods of entering your house when you are locked out clearly have their drawbacks, and we strongly recommend staying away from them. Avoid costly (and possibly painful) damage. Call a trustworthy locksmith at Davies Lock & Door to let you in.