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Help! My door knob is stuck and I'm trapped in my room!
October 7, 2009 1:06 PM   Subscribe

Help! I'm stuck in my bedroom. The knob won't turn much either way and won't come unlatched. The only person who has a key to my house is out of town, so I can't even call a locksmith and have him let in. How can I get out of my bedroom? The door knob is the kind with screws only on the exterior. I've tried to slide a credit card in, but that did not yield results. Anyone have any advice to help me get out of my room?
posted by birdlady to Home & Garden (115 answers total) 268 users marked this as a favorite
 
Where are the hinges for the door? Can you knock the pins out and take the door off?
posted by chrisamiller at 1:09 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can you open a window to get out? Or can someone come over with a ladder to help you out, or get a key from you?
posted by runningwithscissors at 1:09 PM on October 7, 2009


Can you climb out a window? Or have a friend come over, drop your key to them out a window, and employ their help?
posted by craven_morhead at 1:10 PM on October 7, 2009


Here's an image in case you're not familiar with how hinge pins work.
posted by chrisamiller at 1:10 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Derf. Previewing. Jiggle the knob? Kick the door open?
posted by craven_morhead at 1:11 PM on October 7, 2009


This happened to me before (twice, actually- don't let that be you! Remove and discard the doorknob the first time). I was able to take the doorknob off from the outside, which helped, but in the end, it was all the jiggling, hitting, and banging on the doorknob and the door itself that got the door open.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:11 PM on October 7, 2009


Is there someone you could call who could come over and supervise while a locksmith breaks into your house?
posted by something something at 1:11 PM on October 7, 2009


How high off the ground are you? If you're comfortable with heights, you could call a friend with a ladder and climb out the window.

As a last resort, I'm sure the fire department would rescue you, although that might be a bit embarrassing.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:12 PM on October 7, 2009


That was weird.

And if it comes to it, call the non-emergency police/fire and rescue line in your town. Or if you don't have a phone handy, IM a friend and have them do it.
posted by runningwithscissors at 1:12 PM on October 7, 2009


No windows?

If the door swings in toward the room, you can pull out the hinge pins. The link says to use a hammer and chisel but a high heel makes a OK hammer substitute and there's bound to be something in the room you can scrounge up as a chisel/wedge. The pins on the doors in my house can be yanked out by hand, too.
posted by jamaro at 1:13 PM on October 7, 2009


Try pushing or pulling (hard) while you turn the knob. I was recently trapped outside, and then inside, my apartment. Turns out it was because the door wasn't latching just right--it held the door shut, but kept the knob from turning until a piece of the latch moved into place. Turning hard and pushing/pulling moved the bits enough to knock everything back into place and allow the knob to turn again.

Failing that, kick the sucker down.
posted by uncleozzy at 1:13 PM on October 7, 2009


"Where are the hinges for the door? Can you knock the pins out and take the door off?"
+1, but this only works if the door opens towards you (same with the credit card trick).

How to #1
How to #2
posted by kenbennedy at 1:13 PM on October 7, 2009


Dammit! I'm trapped in a similar-comment vortex!
posted by runningwithscissors at 1:13 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Chrisamiller - the hinge pins look similar to the ones in the picture, one at the top, one at the bottom. They seem to have been painted over, and are stuck, is there a particular tool I should use to do this? I don't have any tools in my bedroom, but I have hangers and typical bedroom stuff.

To everyone else - it's on the second floor, and I don't have a house key in the bedroom, so I don't think that's an option.
posted by birdlady at 1:13 PM on October 7, 2009


Do you rent or own? If you rent, call your landlord. If you don't have a phone, use something like Skype.
posted by nitsuj at 1:15 PM on October 7, 2009


Sometimes if a door expands, the knob needs to be pulled towards you or pushed away from you before it'll fully turn.

If it's an interior door in a new-ish house, it should be pretty easy to kick the door down or knock off the lock by hitting it with a heavy object. Aim for the spot just below the knob. This will really only work if the door opens away from you.
posted by muddgirl at 1:15 PM on October 7, 2009


Take a heavy object and knock the freakin door lock off the door with a good downward thrust. The 2 screws holding the handle will break and the resulting latch bolt will be readily moved with a pencil.
posted by Gravitus at 1:16 PM on October 7, 2009


Is your house rented? If so, call your letting agency or landlord.

In my country, secondary fire escape routes are mandatory - usually climbing out through an open window, lowering oneself down on one's arms, then dropping to the ground. If there's a window you could get through but you couldn't confidently reach the ground, could you call a friend or neighbour with a ladder? If you have a DIY-inclined friend, even if they don't have a ladder there's a fair chance they'll know someone who does.
posted by Mike1024 at 1:16 PM on October 7, 2009


A locksmith can get in the front door of your house without a key.

Most important: Don't panic. I have been in your situation, except in a small bathroom without any clothes. So it could be worse. I won't tell you how I got out, because it was not a good idea.
posted by The World Famous at 1:17 PM on October 7, 2009 [28 favorites]


Anything that you can whack the hinge pins with should help dislodge them. Or pry at 'em. Pushing up/down on the door while you do it may help loosen them as well.

How long have you been working on the doorknob/latch? Moving it back/forward, up/down, side/side, all while twisting/pushing/rattling/jiggling?
posted by craven_morhead at 1:18 PM on October 7, 2009


Some answers:
-the door opens toward me
-I rent, called the landlord, he wasn't around

I'll try the door knob jiggling tips and report back.
posted by birdlady at 1:18 PM on October 7, 2009


A butter knife or other cutlery would make a good chisel for removing door hinge pins.
posted by anthill at 1:19 PM on October 7, 2009


They seem to have been painted over, and are stuck, is there a particular tool I should use to do this?

The easiest way is to take a hammer along with something pointy, like a screwdriver or nail and tap on the side opposite of the head. You can improvise, though - maybe a paperweight and a pen? Or scavenge a nail that's holding a picture up?
posted by chrisamiller at 1:19 PM on October 7, 2009


I'd say this was the funniest post ever (to my sense of humor), but it happened to me once, so I'm not laughing. At least you have the internet!

But one bit of advice. If you can get *one* of the door hinge pins out, it's a lot easier to mess with the door and break the "paint seal" on the other one(s), or just shake the door open. Banging on the side of the hinges with a hammer (or something hard like a hammer) can help you get them out too. Good luck! And keep us posted.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 1:19 PM on October 7, 2009


Unfortunately coathangers are pretty flexy and useless as punches.
posted by anthill at 1:20 PM on October 7, 2009


Most interior doorknobs made in the past 30 years can be disassembled from either side of the door. In this diagram, look to the left side. See the item marked "slot" on the shank of the knob? There should be a tab poking through that slot. Find something small enough to push-in on that tab, to disengage it from the slot. The knob can be pulled off once disengaged. You can pry the cover plate from the mounting plate. Once revealed, you may be able to manually turn the mechanism to open your door.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:22 PM on October 7, 2009


Yeah, a pen would make a better punch. Pen + heavy thing. I still feel like actually getting the knob to work like it's supposed to is the most straightforward way of getting this done.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:23 PM on October 7, 2009


Hinge pins always get painted over. You definitely want some kind of hammer (book? shoe?) and chisel (pen?) technique to hammer them up. That'll break the sealed paint.

I don't understand how you can have a bedroom that locks from the outside. Is the doorknob broken? Do you have a webcam or something you can show us the doorknob with?
posted by rokusan at 1:24 PM on October 7, 2009


How to remove the hinge pins.

You need something like a knife or screwdriver, but you might even be able to knock the top of the pin upwards with something hard, like the edge of a CD case hit with a book.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 1:24 PM on October 7, 2009


Re doorknob: try turning the handle, applying strong pressure down on it while turning... and if that doesn't help, try the same while pulling up... then one side... and maybe you can make it 'catch' properly.
posted by rokusan at 1:25 PM on October 7, 2009


Ok, I don't have a hammer or anything like that. I haven't lived here very long, so I don't have any paintings up, and pretty much all I have in my room is a bed, a night stand, my laptop and... some hangers.

I can not believe I managed to get trapped in my room.

I guess I'll call a locksmith even though I know my landlord won't pay for it. At this point I'm getting pretty panicky.
posted by birdlady at 1:26 PM on October 7, 2009


If you get one of the pins out, you can use it as a tool instead of the CD case. Hit it with a book to get the other one out.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 1:26 PM on October 7, 2009


You might want to keep up with the credit card trick. Here's a wiki with a video that might be helpful. I locked myself out of my apartment last winter and I monkeyed with it for about twenty minutes before I got it to work. Actually, in order to get around the molding on the door, I ended up using the lid from a cat food can that I could bend and slip through the crack.
posted by otolith at 1:28 PM on October 7, 2009


You probably have normal round doorknobs, but if you happen to have the kind that look like a lever, then you can bend a wire hanger into a hook, slide it under the bottom of the door, and try opening it from the other side.
posted by mbrubeck at 1:28 PM on October 7, 2009


Think of something you can use as a hammer. A shoe? Then you need something hard, like a ruler or a pen, to angle against the top of the pin and knock it up and out.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 1:28 PM on October 7, 2009


Take a deep breath. You're not in any sort of danger. You sleep there. Give yourself to think things through.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:29 PM on October 7, 2009


Do you think the handle is stuck, or locked? If locked, and it's an interior door, is it keyed, or is it an on-handle lock? Usually those can be unlocked from the other side with a coin(turn) or a a clothes hanger (punch the hole).

Can you take a picture of the door? That might help
posted by CharlesV42 at 1:29 PM on October 7, 2009


Don't panic. You're not injured and there's no imminent danger of injury, death, or really anything other than a funny story. You're going to be fine. The only question is how long it will take you to get out of the room. But you're going to get out one way or another. So relax. Laugh about it a bit. It will help.
posted by The World Famous at 1:29 PM on October 7, 2009


*give yourself time to think things through.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:29 PM on October 7, 2009


Do you have a large piece of cardboard or firm plastic? Try using it the same way you would use a credit card but insert it at a higher level. The plan is to have the cardboard sticking out at both ends of the door. Then try sliding it all around like mad. This worked with cardboard on a bathroom that ended up locked on me.
posted by mokeydraws at 1:31 PM on October 7, 2009


Update: I found a spoon and tried to pry open the door (stupid, I know). The wood on the door is pulpy, so I managed to shave away some of the wood to have a look at what's going on when I jiggle the lock. Basically, nothing. I jiggle from side to side, but there's nothing moving on the latch (not sure exactly what it's called, the catch? the thing that goes into the other side of the door jamb).

The spoon would not help unstick the door pins.They're painted in there for good.
posted by birdlady at 1:32 PM on October 7, 2009


This has actually happened to me in our old apartment.

I can't offer any advice, as the bedroom I was stuck in had another door that opened to the hall that I luckily had a key for in my nightstand.

So, no advice, but I feel your pain. Good luck!
posted by chiefthe at 1:32 PM on October 7, 2009


Another thing you can try is putting pressure on the door from various angles to try to ease the friction that is holding everything together.

Try lifting the doorknob up (as if you were trying to lift up the door itself) and turn at the same time. Or, pushing the doorknob towards the hinges or towards the latch and turn.
posted by Maxwell_Smart at 1:32 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do you have anything you can hammer on the spoon with? Paper weight? old book? maybe even a shoe? That paint won't last too long if you're beating on it with a metal object and a little force.
posted by chrisamiller at 1:33 PM on October 7, 2009


You need something hard and flat to use as the "chisel" to knock the hinge pins out. Do you have a clock in the room? Does it have a battery compartment? Use the cover for the battery compartment. What about a shoehorn? Lipstick tube? Part of the bedframe? Part of a baseboard heater? Knife?

You have hangers. Can you take the hanger rod out of the closet and use the edge of that to knock the pins out?

Think like McGuyver. This is a puzzle you can solve.

Pretty much anything hard can be used as a hammer. Use a shoe, a clock, the drawer from the nightstand, a book, anything.
posted by bondcliff at 1:33 PM on October 7, 2009


Before you start damaging your apartment, you may want to weight the costs of repairs vs calling a locksmith...
posted by CharlesV42 at 1:34 PM on October 7, 2009


Pushing the door further into the wall while you try to turn the knob may also ease the pressure on the latch.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:34 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Some interior door knobs lock by pushing the handle in and turning. I would think jiggling would have disengaged that but try it: just push the knob in (towards the door) and try turning one way or the other.
posted by 6550 at 1:34 PM on October 7, 2009


Craven_morhead & the world famous: I'm just panicky because I happen to be home from work today because I am sick. The stomach flu sort of sick, if you know what I mean.

Monkeydraws: I'll try it.

mbrubeck: yep, normal round door knob

Weapons grade: I'd let you in, but that would be a long journey!
posted by birdlady at 1:35 PM on October 7, 2009


The spoon would not help unstick the door pins.They're painted in there for good.

1. Work on them longer. It may take a while.
2. If you have some nail polish remover, it might help with the paint.
3. Can you use the spoon to pry off the surround that is against the door between the doorknob itself and the door? If you can do that, you can get to the doorknob mechanism and use the diagram linked above to take it apart and escape.
4. Really, though, I would just call a locksmith and have them locksmith their way in the front door and then locksmith you out of your room.
posted by The World Famous at 1:35 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is there any chance that it's a privacy knob w/o a twist lock? If it is, you have to push IN and turn LEFT to unlock it. If it has a tiny hole in the handle, sticking anything long and straight in there will unlock the door.
posted by TomMelee at 1:38 PM on October 7, 2009


Yes, the hinge pins are your most direct path to escape. You will need two objects to free them.

One needs to be smallish and have a tip you can place under the top lip of the pin. Nail clippers, a stiff pen, a small piece of wood, anything like that.

The other needs to be large and heavy, to knock against the smaller object, from below. That should knock the pins up and up until they fall out.
posted by lohmannn at 1:39 PM on October 7, 2009


Yeah, at this point call the locksmith. It's not worth panicking yourself over. And the landlord REALLY should pay for it in the end. He's the one whose shoddy maintenance put you in this mess.

I'm not a lawyer, but I bet you'd be within your rights to deduct the locksmith's bill from your next rent check.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:40 PM on October 7, 2009


If you have nail polish remover you can pour that on the painted hinges so that it loosens it enough to pull off the hinges.
posted by JJ86 at 1:40 PM on October 7, 2009


If it has a tiny hole in the handle, sticking anything long and straight in there will unlock the door.

If it's one of these, we used to open our doors with extended wire hangers, when we were kids.

I think your landlord might be obligated to pay some or all of the cost of a locksmith, if your door just up and locked behind you for no reason. I think not being locked in your bedroom is one of the basic expectations of tenancy. Maybe I missed something, though.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:40 PM on October 7, 2009


The spoon would not help unstick the door pins.They're painted in there for good.

Latex (or even lead) interior paint is not a permanent, unbreakable bond. Assuming you have a standard metal spoon, bend the bowl of the spoon 90 degrees over to create a wide striking surface. Get the end of the handle of the spoon wedged into the gap between the edge of the hinge and the end of the pin. Start hammering on the flattened-over bowl of the spoon with something hard(ish) and heavy(ish) than can approximate a hammer: a book, a boot, a brick, whatever you have.

It may take awhile, but this should eventually break the paint seal.
posted by dersins at 1:41 PM on October 7, 2009


This is an awful situation!

If you tell us where you live, perhaps some kind MeFi can come over and get you help?

I'd send my husband over with his armory of tools in a heartbeat if you were anywhere near us....that said, if you're still stuck in your room in another twenty minutes and no one is around to assist you, it will most definitely be time to call the non-emergency number for your police or fire department to get you out.

Believe me, I know how unpleasant and unsettling being trapped somewhere like that can be. I was stuck twice in my in-laws' basement bathroom that has a terrible doorknob that just so needs to be replaced. The first time I had to use a broom to bang on the ceiling until my now-husband and now-brother-in-law figured out what the thumping was and opened the door from the other side. The second time I managed to jiggle it open, but was no happier with the situation than the first time.
posted by zizzle at 1:42 PM on October 7, 2009


TomMelee, nope, not one of those knobs. It has an actual twisting lock on it. Like an exterior knob, but I don't think there's a key hole on the other side.

Drjimmy11, you're right. I called a locksmith, but it'll be a min of two hours.

All: tried all the suggestions for the door pins using what I had available, no luck.

Thanks for all the tips! I'll update when I get out.
posted by birdlady at 1:43 PM on October 7, 2009


If there's room, you might try wrapping a coat hanger around the top of one of the hinge pins, then twisting the free ends until it is TIGHT around (or maybe just under) the pin, then pushing/hitting on the wire to lift out the pin.

Disclaimer: I am not your locksmith, I'm just brainstorming.
posted by The Tensor at 1:43 PM on October 7, 2009


This happened to me a few weeks ago and it turned out to be because the knob was old and the treads had worn away, so it wasn't catching to turn the latch. It doesn't sound like you're going to be able to fix this given the tools you have to work with- especially considering you're sick, calling a locksmith to come over ASAP seems the logical thing to do. This is something your landlord is probably obligated to pay for even if he/she doesn't want to. Worst case scenario, even if he/she refuses to pay and you don't want to pursue it, the cost of the locksmith will probably be less than what it'll cost to replace the door if you damage it trying to get it off.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 1:45 PM on October 7, 2009


On preview- well ok then. Hope it works!
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 1:46 PM on October 7, 2009


Interior doors tend to be pretty flimsy, if you're feeling panicked and need out NOW, you could probably break through it with a couple swift kicks (aim near the doorknob). Very possible you could hurt yourself doing that, though.
posted by lohmannn at 1:46 PM on October 7, 2009


When you say an actual twisting lock on it, I assume you mean the sort of thing that is on the interior side of an exterior door. If that's the case, have you made sure the door is unlocked? Have you jiggled the locking mechanism around? Does it move at all?
posted by craven_morhead at 1:46 PM on October 7, 2009


If it's a hollow door, you should be able to kick a panel out and access the knob from the other side (or - really - just kick the entire thing down altogether). A new door is gonna be tons cheaper than a locksmith.
posted by torquemaniac at 1:47 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you're stuck in there for two hours anyway, might as well give us a list of everything you have in the room. Maybe it will strike an idea in someone.
posted by lohmannn at 1:48 PM on October 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Craven_morhead: yeah, that's what I mean. It looks like this.
posted by birdlady at 1:49 PM on October 7, 2009


Maybe keep trying try the credit card trick now that you can see what's going on with the latch? If the door opens towards you you'll have to get the card (or on preview, the cardboard/plastic -- good idea!) behind the latch and pull towards you, because the curved side of the latch is on the other side. Going at it from the front or straight up/down won't work at all. I've had success in similar situations approaching it from the top with the card angled down, and a lot of jiggling the card with pressure downwards. It can be slow and tedious, but if you're able to see that you're making any progress it will only be a matter of time. If the latch won't move at all, try putting a little pressure on the door (most likely by pushing on it) while you're jiggling the card, in case there is tension keeping the latch from moving.
posted by Balonious Assault at 1:50 PM on October 7, 2009


Doublecheck that it's actually unlocked, then try forcing the knob one way or the other (use two hands!). Turn it as hard as you possible can, without hurting yourself.
posted by 6550 at 1:50 PM on October 7, 2009


I'm actually probably two hours away from you, so I guess the locksmith is the way to go. Any other Mefites in FL?
posted by misha at 1:50 PM on October 7, 2009


Oh birdlady - that's just like the lock on my bathroom! The little knob must have got turned somehow. That little knob thing is on the other side right?
posted by mokeydraws at 1:51 PM on October 7, 2009


Do you keep a blow dryer in the bedroom? (I do) If so, turn it on high and aim it at the paint on the hinges to soften it up and then try using the spoon as a chisel and a shoe or book as a hammer to knock the hinge out.
posted by agatha_magatha at 1:52 PM on October 7, 2009


If a credit card doesn't work, then it's to be presumed that the curve of the latch is facing away from you. If that's so, and you have a wire hanger, bend it into a long curved piece (just leaving in the natural bend from where you unbent it is curved enough.) Slip it down the crack between the door and the jamb so that the hanger's on the far side of the latch. Grab the other end of the hanger when it sticks out below the latch (which it will, 'cause of the curve of the hanger.) Pull both ends of the hanger toward you -- it'll pull the latch open.

I've done this; it works, provided the curved side of the latch is away from you.
posted by Zed at 1:53 PM on October 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


If the picture you linked to is accurate, it looks just like the ones in my parents' house. Apologies if you've covered this already, but is there a small hole on your side of the knob? If so, something thin and flat can usually be inserted into that hole and twisted to unlock the door.
posted by chrisamiller at 1:53 PM on October 7, 2009


Mokeydraws, my understanding is that the little knob is on her side. I would work like mad on the little locking knob to make sure that it's working like it's supposed to, and trying to turn the main knob with every different configuration of the locking knob.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:54 PM on October 7, 2009


Gosh, the only other thing I can think of that I don't think has been tested is to try pulling the door into you as far as it will go and then twist. Like, pull really, really hard. In order to unlock our apartment door with the keys we have, I sometimes have to pull the door in towards me and hold it while using the keys --- maybe if you pull the door in, and then twist the handle, something might kick in? Or pull it in toward you and then use the credit card/plastic/cardboard trick to try to unjam it. Sometimes the latch just needs to catch better before the door will open....

Of course, this is something that may have already been tried. I'm just trying to see what else I can come up with.....
posted by zizzle at 1:54 PM on October 7, 2009


Zed is right - if the door opens to the inside of the room, then pushing a credit card toward the latch won't work. You need to get something around to the other side of the latch and pull.
posted by mbrubeck at 2:01 PM on October 7, 2009


I'm not a lawyer, but I bet you'd be within your rights to deduct the locksmith's bill from your next rent check.

Yep, you're not a lawyer. This is often grounds for eviction, even if it seems justified. Check the laws of your state first.
posted by grouse at 2:05 PM on October 7, 2009


What about trying to get the hook of the hangar through the edge over the lock, edging it down over the bit that sticks into the door frame, and then pulling it towards you? If the curved edge of the bolt is facing the outside, the hangar might be able to slip it.
posted by Billegible at 2:05 PM on October 7, 2009


Whenever this happens to me the key is to forcefully try and move the locking mechanism back and forth on the end of the door. It doesn't budge until after a few times. Just keep turning it back to locked and unlocked (or trying).
posted by stresstwig at 2:10 PM on October 7, 2009


Using the nightstand or part of the bedframe to knock the knob off the door may permit access to parts you can turn with a pen or spoon. I've used a sledgehammer to do the same thing.
posted by yohko at 2:10 PM on October 7, 2009


Oh, and when I tried it, it was on the keyed side of a knob that looked like the one you linked to on the other side.
posted by yohko at 2:12 PM on October 7, 2009


Nthing Billegible and Zed; when I got stuck in my bathroom post-shower (ah, the no-clothes locksmithing was really fun...) I managed this with some dental floss (after a few tries; it was too flexible and slid right around the latch several times before it finally worked). You need to push on the latch from the other side somehow.
posted by nat at 2:14 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hmm. Taking a minute to brainstorm, you said that you had pictures that weren't hung. Are they in the room? If so, you should be able to detach the steel cable from the back and use that to loop around the latch. You can use a thin coat hanger as a threader (in fact, if you hook the end, you may be able to just use a coat hanger to pull through).

Other questions—are you getting a good grip? Are your hands slipping? If so, do you have a sweater or something that you can use between your hand and the metal to better your grip? For me, a mousepad would work well, but I don't know if you have one.

I would also try whacking around the latch/knob (either kicking or butting a shoulder into it) on the theory of shaking something loose. It might not do much, but I find that hitting things sometimes works and often makes me feel better.
posted by klangklangston at 2:14 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yep, you're not a lawyer. This is often grounds for eviction, even if it seems justified. Check the laws of your state first.
posted by grouse at 2:05 PM on October 7 [+] [!]


Grouse, lighten up. Your problem is with drjimmy11, not the OP, who's sick and imprisoned in her room. Please reword this as a helpful suggestion to the OP.
posted by JimN2TAW at 2:15 PM on October 7, 2009


Call the fire department? Sheesh.

Personally, I'd put on heavy boots and have a grand old time kicking and punching my way through the drywall between the studs.
posted by aquafortis at 2:16 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


If you're stuck in there for two hours anyway, might as well give us a list of everything you have in the room. Maybe it will strike an idea in someone.
Also, you will later receive a personalized room escape game.
posted by anthill at 2:20 PM on October 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


Yes, "I am not a lawyer" kind of implies "check with someone who is a lawyer before you do this." Carry on.
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:20 PM on October 7, 2009


Ok, all. Thanks to a variety of your suggestions... I'M free!! For the past 20 mins, I just kept jiggling it in all directions, right, left, in, out, and used the card at the same time. I'm not sure what finally worked, but I'm free. For now, I'm going to try to take the door knob off and replace it when I'm feeling up to going out.

For the record, the locking side of the knob was on the inside. When I got out, I saw the little hole on the other side of the knob.

You were all so helpful, I'd mark all as best answer if I could. Please don't feel left out if I don't mark your answer, you were ALL helpful!
posted by birdlady at 2:20 PM on October 7, 2009 [52 favorites]


Your problem is with drjimmy11, not the OP, who's sick and imprisoned in her room. Please reword this as a helpful suggestion to the OP.

I do not have a problem with drjimmy11, only his inaccurate statement. birdlady, my suggestion is that when you get out, do not unilaterally deduct the cost of repairs from your rent.
posted by grouse at 2:21 PM on October 7, 2009


HOORAY FOR JIGGLING!
posted by craven_morhead at 2:22 PM on October 7, 2009 [33 favorites]


Look, there's no reason to panic. Worst comes to worst, you'll kick your way through the door in a few minutes. The paint around the hinge pins also can't possibly be that much of an obstacle -- they're not stuck in there by the force of the paint. With a wire coat hanger you can cut through the paint layer. They're stuck because they just stick sometimes, you need to be able to apply some leverage on them. Any solid object with a good edge on it that catches on the edge of the pin can be used to apply leverage. Have you really looked at every single object in the room with a clear mind and assessed its potential for leverage? Anyway, I wish you luck. You'll find a solution soon.
posted by creasy boy at 2:22 PM on October 7, 2009


Oh great! Congratulations.
posted by creasy boy at 2:22 PM on October 7, 2009


Hooray! Don't forget to call the locksmith and cancel the housecall!
posted by Balonious Assault at 2:23 PM on October 7, 2009


Now quick, go get a chisel and a hammer, and also some nail polish, wire, screwdrivers, thermite, magnesium tape, channel locks, a reciprocating saw, three other locks and knobs, some Laffy Taffy, and a can of that compressed air.

Then lock yourself back in and we can work on REALLY getting you out.
posted by klangklangston at 2:24 PM on October 7, 2009 [123 favorites]


Yay! Congratulations!
posted by agatha_magatha at 2:24 PM on October 7, 2009


Nthing Zed et al.

If you can literally see the latch going through the catchplate, and if the door opens towards you, just follow the hangar advice listed above.

- Thread the hook of the hangar behind the latch, between the door and the catchplate.

- Gently pull on the doorknob, then pull steadily on the hangar.

The idea is to pull on the door with your hand on the knob so when you do get past the latch the door actually opens. However, this will cause friction between the latch and the catchplate which may keep the hangar from pushing the latch back into the door. So you may need to jiggle the hangar a bit while you gently pull-release-pull on the door. When it opens you'll land on your ass if you're not careful.
posted by carsonb at 2:27 PM on October 7, 2009


Oh, well hey! Sweet freedom!
posted by carsonb at 2:27 PM on October 7, 2009


Huzzah! Jiggling plus credit cards: an unstoppable combination.
posted by otolith at 2:28 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the congrats, all. Also, misha, weapons-grade and zazzle, thanks for the kind offers. If you were closer, I would have gladly taken you up on them.

Klangklangston: hahah.
posted by birdlady at 2:29 PM on October 7, 2009


Congratulations! And thank you, grouse, for clarifying that your advice was not about the escape itself, but about the unilateral deduction of the cost from the rent payment. Your advice is very sensible, both legally and business-wise. I'm sorry if the misunderstanding was on my side.
posted by JimN2TAW at 2:29 PM on October 7, 2009


yay! oh, i'm so glad you're out. i was waiting with bated breath! i had no ideas better than the ones you were given but i was worried over you. i even talked to my gal on break, and she was also reading and worried! we're both glad you're free.

p.s. i hope you feel better soon. stay hydrated, rest!
posted by radiosilents at 2:44 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Grouse: good suggestion. I've rented from private owners (as opposed to leasing communities) for long enough to know that these sorts of things have to be agreed on IN WRITING before deducting anything. Being taken to court for rent not paid in full due to repairs deductions would be very expensive and the LAST thing I want to happen.
posted by birdlady at 2:45 PM on October 7, 2009


Thank you, and your gal, radiosilents!
posted by birdlady at 2:46 PM on October 7, 2009


I admire your patience, I would have just kicked the door down and then made the landlord fix his stupid door. Congrats, in next week's lesson we'll talk about how to pick combination locks!
posted by chlorus at 2:48 PM on October 7, 2009


Now that you are out, you should also think about getting one of these escape ladders so you have another form of exit from your bedroom in case of fire.
posted by agatha_magatha at 2:59 PM on October 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


Blow on it!!! That fixed everything for my grandpa!

(Glad you're out.)
posted by The Deej at 3:00 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't mean to make light of your traumatic experience, but in the future when I try to explain to people what makes AskMe awesome, I'm pretty sure this thread will be one of my examples.

I'm glad you got out ok!
posted by craichead at 3:10 PM on October 7, 2009 [6 favorites]


Flagged as excellent. This is one of those threads that will probably prove invaluable as a lifesaver in somebody's future and frantic Internet searches.
posted by Shepherd at 3:19 PM on October 7, 2009


Yay, I'm so glad you got out! Hope you feel better soon!
posted by sarcasticah at 3:30 PM on October 7, 2009


Oh, good!!! I left work at 5 and just got back home twenty minutes ago and just now was able to check.

I was hoping to see you got free one way or another!
posted by zizzle at 3:40 PM on October 7, 2009


For posterity, I wanted to point out that you absolutely DO NOT need to have the curved part of the latch to make use of the credit card.

IF the knob assembly is modern enough that there is a latch piece plus a separate bar on the flat side of the latch, that bar SHOULD be toward the LOCKOUT side of the door.

Moving the credit card CORNER against that piece, sliding it into the hole in the frame, then pivoting the rest of the card toward the frame will pry the securing bar away from its locked position. IF you can get that bar moved back towards the door, you can often push the door the wrong direction to pop it out of the latch and then tape/hold the latch mechanism shut as you pull the door the correct direction, OR you can push the card in again and wedge back the main latch as well. The card will generate enough friction to move the latch, regardless.

No, I did not just tell you how to break into a locked door. Ok, maybe I did. Whatever. It works, done it countless times.

OP--Glad you're out!!
posted by TomMelee at 6:27 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also glad you are out. If you live in earthquake country, this is also a good reason to put a prybar or crowbar into your bedroom "go bag". Supposedly people get trapped in their rooms because the door frame shifts during an earthquake.
posted by benzenedream at 6:33 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Congrats on getting yourself out, OP! I've bookmarked this as a "you never know" kind of post - you never know when you'll need this sort of information. Man, I love it when the community rallies around like this.
posted by cobwebberies at 8:13 PM on October 7, 2009


What? No bedsheets to shimmy out the window with?
posted by anniecat at 8:18 PM on October 7, 2009


Best escape-the-room game ever.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:47 PM on October 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


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