If your door has ever been stuck, then you know just how annoying this problem is. And while you would probably be able to fix any issue with your doors once you manage to open it, you may not know how.
If you need to open a stuck door, you should try jiggling the door, pushing, and moving the doorknob. If you are on the inside and stuck, remove the door off the hinges. You can also use a bobby pin, paper clips or your credit card, or simply take the doorknob off. You can also call a locksmith or a crafty friend.
Getting stuck out or in is a stressful situation, and you need solutions that will work. However, you also need to fix the issues that are causing the door to be stuck. If you want to learn all of this and more, read on.
Opening a Stuck Door
1. Try Jiggling the Door
You’ve probably already tried this several times, but it’s one of the most common solutions to getting a stuck door to open. Moving the doorknob while pushing or pulling — depending on whether you’re inside or out — usually gets the mechanism to fall back into place and enable you to go in or out.
Try to stay gentle to your door and not get too annoyed. Slamming it or kicking it can lead to damage, and the repairs could get expensive.
Focus on the knob. Push it up and down, then side to side, backward and forward. All of this should be done while you rattle and jiggle the knob.
2. Remove the Door Hinges
If you are stuck on the inside, the simplest and quickest thing you can do is to take the door off by removing it from the hinges. This trick won’t work if you are on the outside of the door since the hinges are usually placed inside.
Here are some steps that will help you do it in no time:
- First, loosen the hinge pins. If you have a tool for this, you can use it, but otherwise, a nail and a hammer would do. You can use anything else you have on hand for this that fits the need.
- Pull the pins out. If this is hard, you can use something to tap it out instead. Just pick something that you can stick under the head of the pin (like a spoon, for instance) and something heavy (like a big book) and hit the other end of the spoon. The pin should fall out. Do the same for the other pin.
- Then, remove the door, and that’s it!
This process is pretty simple. The doors will be heavy, so prepare for that. It might take a lot of strength to pick them up and move them. Another problem is if those are your front doors, in which case you would have to leave them open for intruders. You could also call a neighbor to help you reinstall the doors or someone to watch your home while you’re not there.
In any case, make sure that you fix the doors as soon as you have the time, to avoid these problems in the future.
3. Use Bobby Pins or a Credit Card
While movie tricks for opening the doors would never work in real life, they actually do, but they take more time. There’s a trick with the bobby pin and a trick with the credit card. Here’s how to do them.
Here’s how to do the bobby pin/paper clip trick:
- You’ll need two bobby pins or two paper clips, but you can break both in half to get two tools, as you’ll need this many.
- Bend one piece of the tool into an L shape. This will hold the lock in place while you work at the lock with the other tool.
- The other part should be straight with a tiny W at the bottom. You’ll use this part of your bobby pin or paper clip to work on the latches in the lock.
- While holding the L shaped part in place, use the other piece to find the pins in your lock.
- With the W shape, push the pins, and the door should unlock.
This might take some practice and a few failed attempts, but it should work.
Next, here’s how to open a door with a credit card:
- Pick a card you don’t need as much, like an expired credit card or a gift card. It will get ruined, so it’s best to use something that’s not as important as your credit card and other similar tools.
- Then, push the card where the latch is, between the door and the frame of the door.
- The card should be at a 90° angle to the door.
- Push the card and then wiggle it.
- Bend the card, so it’s away from the doorknob. This should slide the latch away.
- You should also push on the door while you do this.
- Do this until the door is open and you’re in.
This trick works best when your problem is with the lock, if your door is with a spring bolt, and when you’re outside of the door.
4. Take the Doorknob Off
If the trick with the hinges wouldn’t work for you because you are stuck outside, you can remove the doorknob instead. This can help you work on the mechanism and help you open the door more easily.
Keep in mind that this trick won’t work if there’s a deadbolt on your door and it’s locked.
The screws on your doorknob may be obvious or hidden. If they are hidden, look closely, and you should be able to see tiny holes to the side or below your knob. Here’s what to do next:
- Find a thin wire-like object — a bobby pin or a paperclip that you would straighten out can work well.
- Insert the tip into the hole — or the screw — and press on it. If the screws are hidden, you should feel a resistance, which means that you should push even more, and as far as you can. At the same time, you should turn the doorknob. Do this until the doorknob comes off.
- Remove the plate that’s hiding the lock and use your tool to pull the mechanism. With a bit of trial and error — if you’ve never done this — the door should open.
Again, this only helps if your problem is that your door is locked. However, if it’s winter, for example, and the door is stuck because of the cold, this might not be the answer. With a swollen door or frozen — and if everything else works — you should be able to force it open.
Again, be careful not to damage the door when using force.
5. Call a Locksmith or Crafty Friend
Aside from trying to open the door yourself, you should also consider doing other things. Especially so if none of these tricks work for your home. Here are some tips:
- Call a locksmith. They are the most skilled at these issues, and they should be able to help you quickly.
- Call a friend. Maybe they can bring the tools you need to fix your problem.
- Try other points of entry. If the door doesn’t budge, try the windows, doggy doors, or anything similar.
Why Is Your Door Getting Stuck?
Once the door is open, you have to find the cause of it getting stuck. Here are just some of them:
One of the most common reasons for your door sticking is this one. Doors may seem simple, but they are actually not, and you need to install them properly so that they can work. Even the smallest mistake could cause a problem like sticking. A simple way to fix this is to remove the doors completely and then install them well. Be precise in the measurements.
A shifting foundation
If your property wasn’t inspected before or after your house was built, you may be having a shifting foundation. This is not always visible, especially from inside the house or from afar, but you’ll definitely notice it on your doors.
A shifting foundation can move the windows or doors from their frames just enough that they don’t work properly anymore. The only solution to this is repairing the foundation and then repairing the doors.
As you know, humidity and weather conditions can affect your home as well. And one of the most susceptible areas of your home are your doors. Especially your front door, since they get the biggest effect. Humidity expands doors, and this causes the sticking.
To fix it, you have to remove the door from its frame and then sand the edges. You have to be careful not to sand too much as well since this would create a gap.
Another reason why your door may be stuck is debris gathered around your door. Even something that’s not easy to see can be a problem — for example, a bit of dust or dirt along the hinges. To clean it, you would have to remove the doors and clean out the dirt, but you can prevent it simply by cleaning it a bit more often.
If the hinges are sagging, then the problem could be with that. If the screws get loose, then the hinges will be loose, and the door will tilt a bit. So, fix the hinges, and the problem should be done — you can also replace them if they are broken or old.
The latches also cause many issues. Often it’s because they haven’t been aligned properly, and then the door can’t connect with the frame well. All you have to do to fix it is aligning the strike plate. You can do it by unscrewing the strike plate and then making it work better.
Even doors can suffer from wear and tear over the years. So, if your door is older, then you probably need to replace it, or it’s going to stick and cause all sorts of problems.
How to Fix a Door That Keeps Getting Stuck?
The first step to fixing a door that keeps getting stuck is to observe. Look for any obvious damage, scratches, or for anything broken. Then, check for dirt or debris stuck around your door. Clean it up properly and make sure that all the grime is gone.
You can also get stock paper and then run it around the closed door. It should go smoothly except in those spots that are causing the problem. Another way to determine the location of the problem is to open and close the door while holding each part of the door and then figuring out where the door resists the most when you try to close it.
If you suspect the hinges, then you can listen to them and see if they are squeaking — they might need oiling.
With any changes in humidity or weather, the door will inevitably slightly stick, especially during winter. Of course, your door may react more during summer with high humidity, but that just depends on the door.
In both cases, you can try sanding the door just a bit, but be careful not to sand too much, or you might end up with a gap. You might also want to consider adding a cover for your roof, as it will protect the door a bit from the effects, and they might end up being so slight that you won’t notice them.
As mentioned, running a bar soap against the door will be a quick solution. It will work well and enable you to open and close the door as you want to. Make sure that you don’t use something with a moisturizer — the soap should leave a powdery residue. This is a good solution during humid times.
Next, you can also use your air conditioner, and it will remove the humidity, so your doors will close or open with ease. A dehumidifier can help as well. You can place it near a door and have it shrink in no time. You can even do it without a dehumidifier.
If the hinges are the problem, you should oil them and check if that helps. If it doesn’t, you can replace them. Petroleum jelly can also work.
If the hinges are not properly attached, you should tighten the screws while making sure that they are not too tight. This is why you should use a screwdriver instead of a drill — if it’s too tight, the wood could get damaged. Test the door and see if it works better.
In case you have checked all of the above, and none seem to be the problem, you should determine if your door needs trimming. This is a permanent fix, but you need to do it well. Remove the door and then note where it’s sticking. Once you do this, use a block plane and trim the door. Make sure that you don’t overdo it as it can ruin your door completely. A palm sander can help you do the more intricate parts.
When you’re done with this, you can repaint this area of the door, but first, make sure that the door is working well.
What to Do if Your Door Is Stuck in an Open Position?
Another common problem is when the door is stuck in an unlocked or open position, as this can be dangerous for your family and invite the elements indoors.
An older lock will probably have rusty bolts, so you should remove them and replace them with new ones. If your key is damaged, it may not work as well. Check with another tool if the lock works, and if it does, then the key is the issue.
On the other hand, your cylinder may be damaged, so the key won’t work. In this case, you should replace it — or, if there’s a chance of fixing it, repair it. And finally, one of the most common problems is if the door is not aligned well. Your door will probably be able to lock when open, but not when closed. In this case, remove the door and align it well again.
You may also be unable to close the door completely due to humidity, so make sure that you use one of the tips for draining moisture from wood like:
- Turning on the AC
- Using a dehumidifier
- Sanding the door a bit
- For a quick fix, use a bar of soap
When your door is stuck but locked, the reasons may be the same as when your door is stuck in an open position. So, the solutions are pretty much the same.
Having a stuck door is not pleasant, but with some simple tricks, you could pry it open. Once you do, remember to fix the issues that are causing the sticking. Otherwise, your home could be unsafe, and there’s no telling when you could get stuck inside or outside as well.
In any case, remember not to use too much force as it will damage the door. But, pushing while applying other methods — the card or bobby pin trick or wiggling the doorknob — could help get it open quickly. Remember to also call for help if you need it.