We’ve all been there- standing in front of your front door and realizing that you’ve been locked out of your house. It’s a common mistake that happens to all of us.
Especially for houses with self-locking doors, this can be a common occurrence. But if you don’t have front locking doors but find yourself locked out several times, you cannot help but wonder what the cause was.
Why does my front door lock itself? The most straightforward answer is that you live in a house with automatic self-locking doors. This means that while you can turn the knob and open the door from the inside, it is impossible to do so from the outside unless you have a key.
For such doors, there is typically no handle outside the door except for a keyhole for your keys or a knob that helps you pull or push the door open.
If you don’t have self-locking doors but still find yourself locked out, it could be because of a jammed lock or a misalignment in your door’s locking mechanism.
This makes it harder for you to use the key and open the door, and you might have to call a locksmith to open the door for you.
What Causes A Door To Lock Itself?
There are several reasons why your door locks itself. In most cases, these are self-locking doors that automatically lock the moment you close the door behind you. While these locks are made for convenience and safety, they can also be a nuisance when you’re in a hurry and accidentally leave your keys inside the house.
Here are some more causes of locked doors:
Malfunctioning Lock Mechanism
A defect in your locking assembly can cause your lock to malfunction, thereby locking you out of your house. This can happen due to prolonged use, bad weather conditions or damage to the door or the lock.
This means your key won’t work as intended, or the latch and the strike place might be misaligned, blocking the key from turning.
A broken lock or a malfunctioning door lock can be caused by bad weather. Typically, it happens in the winter when your lock gets frozen, making it impossible to turn the key in place to open the door.
It can also cause erosion or rust from the latch, which causes the latch to get stuck or unable to move as smoothly as intended.
Misalignment of the lock means that the locking mechanism does not click in the right place. In most cases, the strike plates are out of place and do not line up with the door, causing the bolt to jam the door shut.
If the lock and the door do not fit properly, it can stop you from using your key to open the door. The bolt might also have been repositioned due to harsh weather conditions, making it impossible to unlock the door.
If the lock is dry or filled with debris, it can jam. Prolonged use of locks can also be a significant contributor to this issue. It can also happen when you have a broken key inside the lock, blocking the way.
How To Prevent Your Front Door From Locking Itself?
If you have a self-locking door, the only way you can prevent it from locking after you is to make sure you place a jam, so the locking mechanism is blocked. You can use a piece of folded paper, a door stopper or even a lock of wood to stop the door from closing automatically.
If your door has a night latch, you can find a button or a lever on it. Before you close the door, push the button in the open position and then latch it to keep it from locking.
DIY hacks can also help you stop your door from locking, such as using a rubber band. Loop the rubber band on the doorknob, twist it and place it on the locking part of the knob. Take the other end of the rubber band and bring it across the other door handle. This will reduce the ability of your door to lock.
Other than this, you can also use lock systems specifically designed to avoid lockouts. For example, keypad locks, re-key kits and smart locks.
Are All Doors Have The Possibility To Lock Themselves?
The simple answer is no because not all doors are constructed with the exact locking mechanism. As mentioned before, automatic self-locking doors are the most common culprits for this issue. However, locking malfunctions like misalignments, dirty locks, jammed locks, old locks, etc., are all possible causes for a locked door.
While self-locking doors were made for convenience and safety purposes, they can backfire and cause you to be stuck when you need to get somewhere.
Likewise, even if you don’t have an automatic door lock, faulty locking mechanisms can significantly cause getting locked out. It is best to fix it as soon as possible to avoid unwanted issues.
How To Unlock Your Front Door That Locks Itself?
Although most self-locking doors are made for safety and privacy, they are not impossible to open. The outside of the door usually has a small hole in the knob, which hides a small button that you can push to open the door. You just need a tiny rod like a paperclip or a small screwdriver to do this.
If you have access to a small screwdriver and your front door has the provision to insert this tool, you can use the screwdriver to wiggle your way into the locking mechanism and pry it open.
How Do Door Locks Work?
For most doors that automatically lock themselves, the locking mechanism relies on a 3-latch system- 2 hooks and a bolt. When the door enters the lock, it triggers the hook to activate the locking mechanism. It uses the force of high contact pressure to lock the door shut so that it is always intentional.
Regarding non-automatic locks, use the key to turn the cylinder in a position that allows the latch to come out and into the strike plate. Only when you have the correct key can you turn the cylinder to push the latch back into the open position.
How Long Do Front Door Locks Last?
The typical answer to this question is once every 7 years or so. Although this also depends on a variety of factors, such as how often the lock is used or if it is showing locking problems before 7 years.
The more you use the lock, the more likely your locksmith will recommend a lock change for your door. Other than this, consider factors like damage, weather conditions, and problems with the lock that will determine when you need to have your lock replaced.
Getting locked out can be a nuisance, especially if you are in a hurry. If your locks are deadbolted, you probably have to find a locksmith to open the door for you since it is practically impossible to get in without the key or with the help of a professional.
If you are facing problems with your lock, get it checked as soon as possible to avoid unwanted circumstances.