How To Open A Deadbolt Lock With A Screwdriver (Do This!)

Jessica Stone
by Jessica Stone
Deadlock bolts are the premium way for homeowners to secure their houses and property. Accidents happen, and any homeowner can lock themselves out by mistake without a key. Luckily, you can get back in using only a screwdriver, so follow along as we explore how you can unlock the deadlock bolt with a simple tool.

Now more than ever, homeowners are especially concerned about the security of their homes. Much time is spent in searching for the perfect lock for their doors, in order to prevent entry from any unwanted guests.

However, what happens if you’ve misplaced or forgotten your keys and you are unable to reach a locksmith? In this instance, you can use a screwdriver to pick the deadbolt lock and gain access into your home.

Insert the rough end of a bobby pin into the keyhole, and place the small, flat head screwdriver under the pin. Move the bobby pin up and down the keyhole. Next, glide the screwdriver between the edges of the pin, making sure it is keeping the tumblers upwards. Twist the screwdriver to unlock the deadbolt.

Before you begin, it is essential that you understand the logistics behind lock picking. Put simply, it involves opening a lock by examining all the elements involved, then identifying and exploiting loopholes within the design.

This guide will teach you exactly how to open a deadbolt lock, should you ever become locked out of your house. Although lock picking can be somewhat difficult for the beginner, the basic tools outlined below will help set you on the right track.

Do You Need to Hire a Locksmith?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

Understanding The Deadbolt

With the ever-increasing rates of break-ins and robbery across the nation, the security of your home and family should be a principal concern. Therefore, if you are searching for an efficient and cost-effective way to secure your entryways, the answer is always a deadbolt lock. For those who want to enhance the safety of their home, deadbolts are easy to find, install, and will prevent criminals from breaking in.

Although there are a number of different types of deadbolts available, we will explore how to open a simple deadbolt using a screwdriver, a tool that is available in virtually every home. The most common lock found in a single cylinder deadbolt is a pin tumbler lock. These locks are designed with pins of varying lengths, allowing only a particular key to fit inside. If you do not have this key, you will not be able to release the pins and open the lock.

Before we proceed, let’s examine the major components of a deadbolt in order to better understand the mechanism itself:

  • Cylinder: The cylinder is the primary component involved in a single deadbolt lock. This is where you insert the key and where the pins are located. When you insert the key into the cylinder, the pins are manipulated to either lock or unlock the deadbolt. As the key is rotated, the pins are moved in a particular direction and a ‘click’ sound is what indicates that the deadbolt has been locked. Conversely, re-inserting the key and rotating it in the opposite direction unlocks the deadbolt.
  • Bolt: When the deadbolt is locked, a metal bar is released. This bar is called the bolt and when you lock the deadbolt, it will penetrate through an opening into the door frame.
  • Deadbolt Plunger: Thanks to the deadbolt plunger, or deadlocking plunger, gone are the days of trying to open a deadbolt with a credit card. This is a very intuitive piece of the lock mechanism that, when properly installed, prevents the bolt from being moved.
  • Box and Strike Plate: The box and strike plate help to further ensure the strength and solidity of the deadbolt lock. It is essentially a hole that is located in the door frame which extends to allow adjustment of the bolt.

How to Open a Deadbolt Lock With a Screwdriver

Now that you have a greater understanding of how the inner workings of a deadbolt operate, we can proceed with the steps for getting it unlocked. With the help of a screwdriver, the goal is to push the set of tumbler pins upwards and match them with the pattern on the inner top of the lock. This will successfully pick the deadbolt lock and allow you to open the door.

Follow these steps to successfully open your deadbolt lock using a screwdriver:

  • Start by gathering all the necessary tools. For this project, you’ll need a bobby pin and a skinny, flat head screwdriver. The small screwdrivers that are used to repair eyeglasses are the ideal choice for this. This type of screwdriver will also help prevent any possible damage to the deadbolt.
  • Know which kind of lock you are working with. This will determine how much time it’ll take you to pick the lock. Most residential and commercial areas use a pin and tumbler lock. Regardless, to open any type of lock, the objective is to imitate the action of the key.
  • Take your bobby pin and bend it so that it is completely straight. Then, insert the bumpy end of the bobby pin into the keyhole of the deadbolt lock.
  • Insert the end of your small flat head screwdriver into the keyhole, just under where you placed the bobby pin. Do not push the head of the screwdriver in too far, as you will need to have enough room to move the bobby pin in multiple directions and also in and out of the keyhole.
  • Move the bobby pin up, down, in, and out of the deadbolt’s keyhole. By doing this, you should be manipulating the tumbler pins inside the lock.
  • As you are moving the pins, use your screwdriver to glide the edge in between the pins. Make sure that the tip of the screwdriver is long enough to keep all of the tumblers up.
  • With all of the tumblers inside the lock-up, twist the screwdriver to unlock the deadbolt. If you follow all of these steps, you will likely have success with a single attempt.

If you are unsuccessful with the first try, try different angles and combinations of moving the bobby pin to influence the pins. Use more force with the screwdriver than you did before and apply more pressure while twisting.

Other Methods for Unlocking Deadbolt Locks

Although using a small screwdriver may be the most common way to open a deadbolt lock, there are other options you can try if you’ve locked yourself out of your home and do not have the key. Instead of using just one bobby pin, you can try to unlock the deadbolt by using two bobby pins. For this method, you’ll need to insert the closed, or looped, end of one bobby pin in the bottom section of the keyhole.

Then, break the second bobby pin in half and use it in the top portion of the keyhole. Move this bobby pin back and forth to set the pins and release the deadbolt. If this option is unsuccessful within the first few minutes, remove the first bobby pin and reinsert it before attempting further. If you don’t have two bobby pins on hand you can use virtually any small, thin piece of metal such as a heavy-duty paper clip.

The section method for unlocking a deadbolt lock is to use a “bump key.” “Lock bumping” has been used to open deadbolts without a key for many years. You’ll first need to purchase a bump key set, which can be found at your local hardware store, Walmart, or from a number of online retailers. Then, simply insert the bump key into the deadbolt keyhole and use a sturdy-ended tool, like a screwdriver or hammer, to hit the end of the key toward the door. This force should cause the key to turn, thus unlocking the deadbolt.

Quick Tip: If you open a deadbolt using the bumping method, you should replace the entire lock. Although it may not always be necessary, this method can damage the inside mechanisms and cause further issues when trying to unlock the deadbolt with the original key.

Do You Need to Hire a Locksmith?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

Wrapping It Up

In order to successfully pick a deadbolt lock, knowing which type of lock you have can be vital information. The most common and widely used type of lock for both homes and commercial settings is a pin tumbler lock. This lock involves the use of key pins, springs, plug, and driver pins, which are manipulated by the key to unlock or lock the device.

However, if you ever happen to be locked out of your home and you do not have the key, you can improvise by using a number of lock picking tools such as paper clips, bobby pins, screwdrivers, and even a bump key. The ultimate goal is to imitate the original key with your tools to successfully gain access into your home.

Related Guides

Jessica Stone
Jessica Stone

Jessica considers herself a home improvement and design enthusiast. She grew up surrounded by constant home improvement projects and owes most of what she knows to helping her dad renovate her childhood home. Being a Los Angeles resident, Jessica spends a lot of her time looking for her next DIY project and sharing her love for home design.

More by Jessica Stone