How to open a locked deadbolt in 5 steps – without the key!

Written by Jason Hutchinson
5 Min read
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A stuck deadbolt? We can help.

Trying to open a stuck deadbolted door can cause quite a bit of stress and panic. But hopefully, with this article, we can show you that it can be unstuck without the need to take the whole door off! There are a lot of reasons that a deadbolt can get stuck, it might just need a little lubrication or the door may have slipped off of its alignment, just stopping it from locking in the right way.

Lubricating the Lock set

The first thing to do straight off of the bat is to try lubricating the lock; this especially works if the key only goes partially into the lock, but it’s not going all the way in and not turning. The best thing to do is use a bottle of graphite powder, but there is a couple of other stuff like penetrating oil or even something like WD-40; any lubricating liquid will do the job.

Just bring the nozzle of whatever liquid you’re trying to use to the key opening and spray it in, and after that, it should be okay. If there is a little more turning, but it still isn’t going all the way, then try the process again with a little more lubricant. If this isn’t working, move on to this five-step plan.

Five Step Plan

The general five steps of what you’re trying to achieve are as follows:

  1. Remove the mounting screws
  2. Pull off the front plate
  3. Push the backplate out
  4. Pull the clip out of the bottom of the lock
  5. Push the topper back to retract the lock

Don’t worry; we’ll go into a little bit more detail further down so you can slow down and do it step by step.

It’s important to note that you’ll need a flathead and Phillips screwdriver for certain parts of this.

Image of a hand opening a deadbolt

Step One: Removing the Mounting Screws from the Plate

The first thing to do when removing that stuck lock is to remove the mounting screws that keep it onto the plate. Use the Philips screwdriver here to really carefully take out either one or two mounting screws from the inside door. It’s important to be careful here, as you can damage the thread if you aren’t and can cause irreparable damage.

Step Two: Take off the Front Plate

Now that the mounting screws are out of the way, it is time to remove the front plate. It should fall off on its own most of the time, but if it doesn’t and it is a little hard to pull off, use a flathead screwdriver to place it under the front plate and pry it out.

Step Three: Pushing the Backplate

There’s a chance that the backplate fell off whilst you were taking off the front plate, but if it hasn’t, then you can just repeat the process that you did with the front plate, use that same flathead screwdriver to get underneath the plate, and push it off.

Step Four: Removing the Clip From the Deadbolt

The next thing to do is to remove the clip that is keeping the lock in place and stopping it from moving. Use the flathead screwdriver to get in between the clip and the deadbolt and then just push down slowly but firmly to get the clip to fall out, then remove it from the deadbolt.

Step Five: Retract the Deadbolt

The final step in getting that lock out is to retract it from the door, which is a little more complicated to do; just be slow and careful. Use the flathead yet again to locate where the topper is and push it back up to then release the mechanism. The topper will be somewhere around on the top of the deadbolt.

Drilling a Defiant Deadbolt - Front Range Locksmith

Removing a Deadbolt Without Screws

This problem is no way near as intimidating and complicated as it sounds and is something you can accomplish at home.

Whilst we have called deadbolts ‘without screws’, they do, in fact, still have screws, but companies keep them out of sight for both better security and a better aesthetic.

The first step is to take off the cover of the lock so that you can do the usual process with the lock. The cover is held on with a ring of metal, and once that is off, then you can get into those screws with the deadbolt.

You’re gonna need to start again with a flat edge, but something slimmer and flatter than a screwdriver like a knife is preferable here, ideally a utility knife. Circle that knife around the inside rim of the lock ring and try to get underneath it to pull the ring out and away from the deadbolt.

Having done this, you will see the two exposed screws that you can unscrew and remove with the aforementioned steps from this article. The same five steps:

  1. Remove the mounting screws
  2. Pull off the front plate
  3. Push the backplate out
  4. Pull the clip out of the bottom of the lock
  5. Push the topper back to retract the deadbolt

Final Thoughts

Getting that stuck deadbolt out can seem like a daunting and intimidating task with lots of little bits that become difficult quickly. Whilst this is only partly true, all you need is a couple of screwdrivers and a little know-how, and just remember to be patient and not panic.

How do you remove a deadbolt lock without the key?

You can remove the deadbolt lock without the key by taking off the mounting screws with a screwdriver so that you can then pry off the plates with a flathead screwdriver. You can then pull the clip out of the bottom of the deadbolt and push the topper to retract the deadbolt.

How do you remove a stuck deadbolt lock?

First, remove the mounting screws that hold together the front and backplate with a Phillips screwdriver, and then switch to a flathead screwdriver to pry those off. You can then pull the clip out of the bottom of the deadbolt and push the topper to retract the deadbolt.

How do you force a deadbolt to open?

You should never force open a deadbolt door instead remove the mounting screws, pull off the front and backplate to be able to pull the clip out of the bottom of the deadbolt, and then push the topper back to retract the deadbolt and open the door.

Can you unscrew a deadbolt?

You can unscrew the mounting screws from the front and backplate of the deadbolt, but after that, it will require more than simply unscrewing parts. After you’ve pried off the front and the backplate, you’ll need to locate the topper to deactivate the mechanism behind the deadbolt.

Appliances made simple. 

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