How To Open A Deadbolt Lock Without A Key From The Outside

How to Open a Deadbolt Without a Key
Image by Homoper

Being locked from the outside of your home or business can be a stressful experience that often comes with unexpected expenses and tends to happen at the most inopportune moment.

Deadbolts are considered more secure than traditional doorknob locks, especially modern ones. However, with the right tools and techniques, you can learn how to open a deadbolt lock without a key from the outside when you find yourself in that dreaded situation.

In this article, we’ll review five ways to open a deadbolt lock when you’ve unexpectedly locked yourself out.

5 Ways to Open a Deadbolt Lock Without a Key From The Outside

While modern deadbolts are more secure than doorknob locks, they can be opened with a little patience, know-how, and the right tools.

1. Pick the Lock

This technique is the most popular choice when opening a deadbolt lock because it imparts minimal damage to the deadbolt and door.

Learning the basics about how locks work and some basic lock-picking techniques should be fairly easy and quick. High-security deadbolt locks and those with anti-pick features, however, may require significant practice to master properly.

To pick a deadbolt, you’ll need:

  • A tension wrench
  • High-quality picks
  • Lubricant – optional

In a bind, you can fashion a picking tool out of a bobby pin, paperclip, or similar object, but you may find they might be too big to fit into the keyway.

A wallet-sized kit can be a lifesaver in an emergency.

2. Bump the Deadbolt

This technique uses a ‘bump key’ that when firmly ‘bumped’ causes basic pin tumbler locks to open.

A ‘bump key’ is a key that’s been ground down to its maximum depths. It can be purchased pre-made for your specific deadbolt, or it can be made using another key that fits into the deadbolt keyway.

For the ‘bump’ technique, you’ll need:

  • A ‘bump key’
  • A rubber mallet
  • Lubricant – optional

Opening a deadbolt lock with the ‘bump’ technique may require multiple attempts. Gentle bumps are best, as too much force can damage the lock’s pins and cylinders.

Additionally, some modern, high-security deadbolt locks may use anti-bump features where this technique may not be effective.

3. Drill It

If you don’t mind destroying your deadbolt lock, then drilling the lock may be your last resort before going into more costly options.

Having a basic understanding of how deadbolt locks work will be most beneficial with this technique as there are several ways and different areas to drill. These areas include:

  • The shear line
  • The key pins – the bottom stack of pins
  • The driver pins – the top stack of pins
  • The springs
  • The screws holding the deadbolt to the door

It is also important to understand the common anti-drill countermeasures used by some high-security systems, such as hard steel and ceramic parts around weaker areas.

To drill a deadbolt lock to open, you’ll need:

  • A variable-speed drill – a high-speed drill can be too abrasive and can harm you
  • Carbide drill bits
  • Eye protection

4. Break the Glass

Breaking a glass panel or window can be costly to replace and could potentially injure you; therefore, it should only be done in extreme cases of emergency.

Select a glass panel on the door or a window close to the door where you can reach the deadbolt lock to unlock it. Do not attempt to climb through.

It is best to use a glass cutter or breaking tool and eye protection. Avoid using random objects to break the glass.

5. Leave It to a Professional

While calling a locksmith is not a cost-free option, it is the safest. Not only are locksmiths trained to avoid property damage, but they are well versed in a wide range of lock systems.

Additionally, they can take care of rekeying your deadbolt lock when all is said and done.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a burglar open a deadbolt lock?

Yes, a burglar can open a deadbolt lock. However, they would need to have the right tools and skills to do it quickly. Most of the time, burglars simply use brute force to get inside your home or business.

Can a magnet unlock a deadbolt lock?

Traditional deadbolts can be opened using incredibly strong magnets known as rare earth magnets or magnetic bump keys. However, high-security deadbolt locks typically include anti-pick pins or a rotating disk that prevents them from being opened with a magnet.

How strong is a deadbolt lock?

The lowest-grade deadbolt lock (grade 3) can endure approximately two 75-pound blows. The highest-grade deadbolt lock (grade 1) can withstand roughly ten 75-pound strikes.

Final Thoughts

While being locked from the outside of your home or business can be stressful, with a little finesse, know-how, and the right tools, you can be prepared to open a deadbolt lock without a key in case of an emergency.

Alexander James
Alexander James is the founder of The blog focuses on various topics, including home improvement, decor, design, gardening, and real estate. With extensive knowledge and experience in these areas, he is passionate about sharing his expertise with others to assist them in creating a more comfortable and beautiful living space. Follow his blog to learn practical tips and find inspiration for enhancing both your home and garden.