What tool do I need to remove a window gate?
April 17, 2006 10:22 AM   Subscribe

What tool do I need to remove a window gate?

I have two windows in my living room. One of them opens to a fire escape, and other has one of those gates that keeps kids from falling out, pictured here. When summer rolls around, I'd like to remove the gate so I can put an air conditioner in that window. My roommate had the air conditioner in the fire escape window last summer, and it was annoying because it blocked us being able to get to the roof (and outside in case of a fire!).

This is what the screws look like that attach the gate to the window frame. I tried using a flat head screwdriver to unscrew them, but it seems like the screws are designed so you can only tighten them with a flat head. The look rusty, but they're not stuck. They actually seem a bit loose, and I was able to turn them clockwise (tightening them) quite easily.

Also, I realize that taking off the gate probably violates some law (I live in Queens, NY). We don't have kids in this apartment, and and I doubt there ever will be kids here. I'll put the gates back up after the summer is over and the AC is back in the closet. I have tried googling, but I could only come up with locksmiths and people who install locking gates like this.

Thanks in advance for any help!
posted by AlisonM to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
Best answer: It's a one-way screw. If they're loose, you might be able to grab them with pliers and unscrew them.

Windows guards are only required where there's a child under 10. Even then, the air conditioner itself seems to serve as an effective window guard, as long as it's well installed.
posted by jellicle at 10:29 AM on April 17, 2006

Those are "one-way" screws, they are not meant to be removed. I'm not sure of the correct way to remove them but I would use my grinder to remove the screw heads, pull the gate off and then use locking pliers to remove the shaft of the screws. I'm guessing (though you don't say) that this is a rental property so your landlord might get pissed if you do that.
posted by octothorpe at 10:31 AM on April 17, 2006

There are one-way screwdrivers to extract said screws, but the pliers method jeillicle mentions is the best way.

The tool you need has two pins instead of a head. The pins hit on the flat edge rather than the rounded part of the slot and thus don't pop off like a regular flat-head driver. Also you could try a very small flat head that hits only on the flat edge.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:39 AM on April 17, 2006

Response by poster: Yep, its a rental, so I don't want to break or saw anything off. I'll try pliers, but if they won't work, is this the one-way screwdriver stuff that I might need? I might be able to borrow that from someone (I have friends in construction, they might have them) next time I'm back at their house if I need to.
posted by AlisonM at 10:57 AM on April 17, 2006

Best answer: That looks like it will work, although the one I was thinking of is like a screwdriver with a blunt end with two little 1/8th or 1/16th inch diameter, round posts that stick out of the blunt end about 1/8th of an inch where there would normally be a screwdriver head.

After a short search, here is the device I was talking about (second picture).

I'd try the pliers first though, no sense buying some tool you'll use once.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:50 AM on April 17, 2006

Even if it's a rental, you can just grind that little fucker away and replace it with a standard philips or hex-head machine screw. I see no reason why any landlord would care about something so trivial. Don't sweat it.
posted by Rhomboid at 12:26 PM on April 17, 2006

It's not hard to cut the head off with a Dremel tool and use a pair of vise-grips to turn the screw out. That's what I did last fall when I took down a window grate on our house, and it took me about half an hour to remove six bolts.

Rather than replacing them with a screw with a standard head, your landlord might be happier if you used something less standard, like "safety" or "tamper resistant" Torx screws. That way, potential thieves will need something less common than a Phillips screwdriver to get in. Just don't forget to give the landlord the wrench when you move out!
posted by harkin banks at 1:21 PM on April 17, 2006

Try grabbing the whole screw head with a pair of vise grips--I managed to take 6 window guards off (4 screws per) last summer using this method.

It takes a bit of work and can be frustrating until you get the screw started but it gets easier. This way you can also screw them back in when summer is over.

The screws are designed so that they cannot be removed easily, so replacing them with another kind of screw may upset the landlord.
posted by dking at 6:23 PM on April 17, 2006

If you destroy or damage them in the removal process, you can buy a new set of one-way security screws.
posted by chazlarson at 8:25 AM on April 19, 2006

harkin banks writes "It's not hard to cut the head off with a Dremel tool"

Don't take the head off, you'll have to mess with the stub of the screw left behind. Instead cut a slot in the head for a flat screw driver.
posted by Mitheral at 8:44 AM on April 20, 2006

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