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How to Unjam a Door Lock

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Muhammad Baballe Ahmad, Mehmet Cavas, Sudhir Chitnis, and Zhen-ya Liu.

✓ Verified & Tested Information

Unjamming a door lock is a common problem. Fortunately, it is a problem that can be easily fixed. In this blog post, we will show you how to unjam a door lock in just a few simple steps.


Before attempting to unjam a door lock, it’s important to take the proper preparation. Safety should be your top priority when trying to unjam a door lock, so it’s important to have the right tools for the job. Gather the necessary supplies, such as a lubricant, a screwdriver, and some wire or a paperclip. Once you have all of your supplies, you can start the process of unjamming the door lock.

Gather the necessary tools

Before attempting to unjam your door lock, it is important to gather the necessary tools. A flat-head screwdriver, small needle-nose pliers, WD-40 or similar lubricant and a package of graphite powder should all be available near your work area. In addition, if you have a Phillips head screwdriver you may need it as well depending on the type of lock you are dealing with. Make sure you have adequate lighting and put on thin protective gloves if needed. After gathering the necessary tools it is important to understand exactly what type of door lock you are dealing with and how it works by consulting the manufacturer’s instructions or an online resource such as YouTube. This knowledge helps ensure success in properly unjamming your door lock.

Make sure the door is unlocked

Before attempting to unjam a door lock, it is important to make sure that the door is actually unlocked. This step can often save you time and effort because if the door is not unlocked, then the lock cannot be unjammed. To make sure the door is unlocked, use a flat-head screwdriver to turn the handle on the inside of the lock. When turning it, do it slowly and gently to avoid damaging any parts. If after attempting this there is no change in lock state, then continue onto other steps for how to unjam a door lock.


Lubrication is one of the simplest and cheapest ways to unjam a door lock. Fortunately, there are a variety of products designed to safely lubricate locks. These products come in the form of sprays, gels, and even oils and can be found at most hardware stores. Applying lubricant is a simple process, and it only takes a few minutes to unjam a door lock. Let’s find out how.

Apply a lubricant to the keyhole

Applying a lubricant to the keyhole of the door lock is a relatively easy and simple fix to help unjam it. A good lubricant will reduce friction between the key and the lock, allowing you to turn it more easily. Be sure to check your manufacturer’s instructions for applying the proper lubricant. It can also be helpful to always keep a tube of commercial graphite dry lock lubricant in your home for regular maintenance and use in emergency situations like this one. Follow these steps to ensure successful lubrication:

-Before applying any type of lubricant, clean up any debris from around the locks with an old toothbrush.
-Unscrew both sides of the keyhole and wipe out any dirt and dust buildup that has built up over time.
-Apply a few drops of a light oil such as WD40 or 3-in-1 oil into each side of the keyhole using an eyedropper or syringe, if needed.
-Insert your key into the lock and rotate it back and forth while gently pushing against it – this should help push any remaining dust out while distributing the oil evenly throughout all parts at once.
-Once finished, reassemble both sides of the keyhole in reverse order (first screwing on one side before eventually screwing on both). You may need to repeat this process several times before successfully unjamming your doorlock.

Insert the lubricant into the keyhole

Once you have selected a lubricant for your door lock, it is important to ensure that the lubricant is carefully applied so as to promote maximum efficiency and not damage the lock mechanism. To apply the lubricant, insert the nozzle of your chosen lubricant into the keyhole. Fully depressor pressurize the container. This directs a small spurt of oil directly into your lock, hitting all of its inner components at once and helping to dislodge any debris that may be stuck in there. Once finished, turn the key back and forth in order to distribute the oil even more evenly throughout the lock.

Manual Manipulation

Manual manipulation is a great, non-destructive way to unjam a door lock. This technique requires some basic mechanical knowledge, but if done correctly it can be a successful way to free a stuck lock. To manually unjam the lock, you will need to use tools such as a pick and tension wrench. With some patience and practice, you should be able to manually manipulate the lock and have your door open in no time.

Insert a flathead screwdriver into the keyhole

When the door lock jams, it will not be possible to open or close the door until it becomes un-jammed. The first step in unjamming a door lock is to Put the lock back into alignment by inserting a flathead screwdriver into the keyhole and turning it clockwise. If this does not work, try wedging a straight edge such as a credit card or butter knife into the keyhole and turning it clockwise. This may be able to dislodge whatever is preventing the key from turning. If this also fails, then more drastic measures need to be taken.

Gently wiggle the screwdriver to break the jam

Begin by first identifying which direction the door needs to be opened, then insert a thin metal object such as a flathead screwdriver or file into the lock and gently wiggle it back and forth. On most manual locks, this motion will push and pull the guts of the lock, breaking it free from any objects jamming it in place inside. You may need to apply some pressure or rotate the screwdriver while you’re doing this in order to really break the jam apart. Once you’ve freed up enough space, add lubricant (such as WD-40) to loosen any extra grip that may have occurred from dirt build up inside. If the lock is still not opening properly, repeat these steps a few more times until you feel like enough room has been created for you to freely manipulate the door open.

Electric Manipulation

Electric manipulation is one of the most reliable ways to unjam a door lock. This technique uses electrical currents to break the latch and open the door lock. This method is best used on locks that don’t require a key and are relatively easy to access. Let’s look at the steps to unjam a door lock using electric manipulation.

Insert an electric pick gun into the keyhole

An electric pick gun, or electric lock pick, is a tool used to open locks. It operates by tapping at high speed while powered by an electrical source. Insert the electric pick gun into the keyhole of the jammed door lock. Make sure that it is firmly in place and cannot move easily since you will be pulling it out towards you with a slight pressure to cycle the pins inside of the lock quickly. Slowly depress and release the trigger of your lock pick as you gently apply tension to assist its entry into the pins in order for them to be depressed.

Activate the pick gun to break the jam

If the pick gun fails to unjam the door lock, then it is time to activate the pick gun. The pick gun will forcefully vibrate, which should help to break the jam. To activate the pick gun, you need to place it over the centre of the plug in such a way that one of its arms is level with each of your pins. Then you need to pull and release its trigger several times before moving onto another tool to finish unlocking the door. It is important not to apply too much pressure as this can potentially damage or break your lock cylinders. Once you are done using the pick gun, be sure to disengage it from your cylinder and store it properly until needed again.

Emergency Lock Replacement

If your door lock is jammed and you need to get in urgently, you may need to resort to emergency lock replacement. This can be a time-consuming and costly process. In this article, we will go over the steps you need to take to replace a jammed door lock and provide some tips for avoiding the problem in the future.

Call a locksmith

In scenarios where you have keyed or digital locks, it’s often best to call an emergency locksmith to handle the door lock replacement. While you may be tempted to try some DIY fixing, as auto locksmiths are well-trained and highly experienced in dealing with various types of lock jams, a do-it-yourself option might only cause more damage if not done correctly.

Additionally, specialized locksmith services are usually required for non-standard security measures such as wallpaper with fingerprint readers, high-security keyless door locks, and solid steel doors reinforced against forced entry. Finally, even if you manage to pry open the door yourself with a crowbar or hammer and chisel, the method is sure to leave your door looking unsightly. Therefore, whenever possible it’s always better to call an experienced professional who can have your lock repaired or replaced quickly and safely without damaging any furniture or fixtures in your home.

Have the locksmith replace the door lock

If a door lock is jammed to the point that it can no longer be unlocked and regular troubleshooting techniques have been unsuccessful, the best option is to have the lock replaced by a professional locksmith. A qualified locksmith will have access to up-to-date tools and technology, as well as the knowledge and experience needed to assess the situation correctly.

When selecting a locksmith, take your time to research businesses in your area and check their reviews online. Ensure that you look for upfront pricing information or an estimate so you know what you’ll be paying up front. It’s also wise to ask friends or family for recommendations if possible.

A professional locksmith should be able to replace any variety of door lock: traditional tumbler locks, deadbolts, padlocks or magnetic locks. The type of lock used will depend on individual security needs, budget and preference. Replacing a door lock typically involves removing the old hardware from its place in the door with specialized tools before setting a new lock into place with screws then assuring that it functions properly – all of which should be handled by an experienced locksmith.

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