A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals
A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals
If you own anything important, you’re going to want to keep it in a safe. That’s why it can be frustrating when your safe door is stuck and your safe won’t open. Obviously, safes were designed to be hard to open, which generally only makes your situation even stickier.
While security safes seem sturdy on the outside, their insides can be a bit delicate at times. They’re all installed with complex mechanisms, and as a result, several things can go wrong. If your safe is stuck, there’s a wide variety of things to look out for.
Did you know that storing your safe a certain way can cause it to jam? Or if it falls over, this can disrupt the door. If your safe door’s stuck, it’s usually solvable. So don’t worry that you won’t ever have access to your secure valuables again. Here are a few things you can look into.
Why is your safe door stuck?
It’s possible that your safe door is stuck simply because you’re doing something wrong when trying to open it. Look at the specifics of your brand of safe. Some safes require things to be in the right position or done in a certain way to open.
If your key isn’t turning before you enter your combination, check that the dial is set to zero. It’s also possible that you didn’t fully finish rotating the handle when trying to open the door. Safe dials sometimes rotate more than people expect them to. See if the door was fully closed before you tried opening it. The locking bolt may have gotten jammed.
Safes often need to be opened in precise ways. Make sure you know your safe’s specifications.
Dead batteries are a common occurrence in electronic locks. Even if your keypad is still lit up, your safe might not have enough energy to open the door. You might hear a “chirp” to open the lock, but the lock doesn’t open.
Look at your safe manual or do some Google searching to find out how to replace your specific batteries. You might need a screwdriver handy. Replacing the batteries should be simple enough. Low batteries are one of the most common problems when a safe door is stuck, and you should try it out before further diagnosing the issue.
There’s a lot of delicate machinery inside safes, and sometimes something comes loose and leaves your safe door stuck. Listen for a motor that’s trying its best but still not opening the safe. See if your handle moves only partway. You may also have a handle that turns all the way, but the safe still doesn’t open.
You can fix this jam with force, which you can apply in a few ways. You can try jiggling the handle around a bit. You can also try pulling on the handle while pushing the door back to relieve pressure. Finally, try kicking the safe as hard as you can (safely) without hitting the handle or keypad/dial, and then try turning the handle the wrong way as you enter the code.
Be careful not to hit the safe so hard that you set off any relocking mechanism. Also, hitting the safe may result in personal injury if done improperly. Make sure nothing on the inside was making your safe door stuck. Try realigning what you have stored there.
Pressure can make safes hard to open. If you stored the safe underneath heavy things, filled it up a little too much, or dropped it in a way that causes changes in pressure, it could make your safe door stuck. Pressure can build in the mechanisms of the safe surprisingly easily.
Is there a bit of wiggle room when you rotate the handle? Is your combination dial easy to turn? If not, your safe is probably under too much pressure. What you need to do now is find a way to relieve that pressure.
Try moving the handle to a locked position and trying again. This movement could relieve some of the pressure. Pushing the door with your foot while pulling on the handle could open your safe, as well. Once your safe is open, try taking some things out so that this doesn’t happen again.
If you entered an incorrect code too many times, your safe might have gone into lockout mode, rendering your safe door stuck.
Safe lockout mode is harder to determine than, say, an online password lockout. Regardless, there should be some indications that your safe is on lockout. A standard lockout sign is a series of beeps that sound when you enter a code or try to open it.
Try looking at your safe manual (which you hopefully kept after buying a safe) or using google to figure out what indications your specific safe may have that it’s in lockout mode.
If your safe is in lockout mode, try waiting anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes before trying again.
Some safes have a time delay to help deter armed robbery. You’ll mostly only find time-delay safes in businesses that are particularly susceptible to robbery. If you’re trying to open a safe in a bank, retail establishment, or any other place with a lot of cash on hand, you might be dealing with a time-delay safe.
When you unlock a time-delay safe, it’ll take a while for it to actually open, making it seem like your safe door’s stuck. Check the specifications to determine how long this wait time is. It’s usually less than an hour.
If you don’t know how long your wait should be and don’t have the safe’s manual, try looking up your safe’s brand. There should be a brand indicator on the safe, and the internet should have some answers.
Regardless, be prepared to wait for a long time for these time-delay safes to open.
Someone might have changed the combination on the safe without your knowledge, leaving your safe door stuck.
If someone else has a different code, try testing their code on the safe to make sure that it’s only your code that doesn’t work. Sometimes safes can open inconsistently, so you can test this a few times with the new code if you want. Try not to enter an incorrect code too many times, though, or you could get locked out of your safe.
If it’s difficult to tell whether or not you’re getting an incorrect code error message, you’ll have to personally determine if there’s a person and motive that might have deactivated your code.
Safe codes can generally only be changed by someone who knows a code for the safe, so someone with access to the safe is the person that changed your code. You could then probably determine who did it and why and possibly get a new code if you need one.
Your wires are going to get worn out over time. If your safe is old, there’s a chance that these are what’s making your safe door stuck.
To diagnose the issue, you need to look at the wires underneath the keypad. Generally, the only way to remove your safe’s keypad is to open it first, so if it can’t open at all, you’re going to need to call a technician.
If your safe door’s stuck inconsistently and is still opening occasionally, try opening the safe. Once you have the safe open, try unscrewing the keypad. Check if the wires are intact. Make sure they’re all properly connected and not loose as well.
If everything looks fine and the safe still doesn’t always work, try disconnecting the wires and batteries for 20 seconds and reconnecting them. If your safe is still stuck, there could be internal damage you’re not seeing. Call a professional to check it out.
Sometimes the numbers on the dial shift a little. This shift happens with repeated use. It can also occur during the shipping process, so if your safe is new, don’t think you’re in the clear. Essentially, it’s possible that your safe door is stuck because you’re unknowingly entering the wrong safe combination.
The dials shouldn’t have shifted too much, or the safe wouldn’t be working anymore. Try dialing the correct combination +1 to each number, and then -1. After that, try +2, and then -2.
If that still doesn’t work, it’s probably not a combination issue making your safe door stuck. As stated before, the shifts are never too severe.
Some high-quality safes have a device called a relocker built-in. These devices are designed to lock the safe when hit with enough force. Usually, this force comes from the safe falling over. If you moved your safe recently, the relocker might have gone off, making your safe door stuck.
Check your safe manual or look online to check if the brand you’re using has a relocking mechanism. If it does, consider if someone or something jostled the safe heavily recently.
You can’t manually reset the relocker. If you suspect that your relocker may have gone off, you need to call a safe locksmith to come in and drill through your relocker to open your safe.
Don’t worry: the safe is still usable after a locksmith drills the relocker. Safes are designed so that professionals, rather than thieves, understand where to drill to deactivate the relocker while still leaving the safe usable. A good safe lockout service will know where the drill spot is on your safe and be able to get through it quickly.
Finally, if none of the above fixes work, then in all likelihood, something inside the lock is broken. If the bolts aren’t retracting, a piece has probably become damaged beyond simple fixes. That’s most likely what’s making your safe door stuck.
This problem could be any number of things. Something inside the locking mechanism may have slid out of place. One of the many parts may have a chip or a crack. Something could be damaged.
Only a safe locksmith can tell you your problem and how to fix it. It’s also possible that the problem can’t be fully fixed, and the locksmith needs to drill through the safe to recover your valuables or even replace your safe lock. Either way, this isn’t something you can do yourself.
If everything is working fine, but your safe door is stuck, in all likelihood, something got jammed inside. If your safe door is jammed, all you need to do is apply a certain amount of force to reshuffle whatever’s jamming the safe. Try pulling on the handle while pushing the door. You can also try kicking the door from behind in a mule kick.
That’s basically how to open a jammed safe: get a bit violent with it without causing any damage to the handle or keypad.
Try hitting it lightly with a hammer a few times. That’s seriously how to open a stuck lockbox: this sudden force might relieve some of the pressure causing the jam. If the key is what’s jammed, try sliding something thin under the key to get it out.
A stuck handle could be indicative of unnecessary pressure on the safe door. This pressure could be coming from either the inside or the outside. Make sure nothing is sitting on the safe, and consider if the safe might be overstuffed. Then, try kicking the safe a few times and see if that relieves the pressure.
If your safe door is stuck open, ensure that the batteries are still working. Undo the keypad and see if the wires are intact. Check that nothing is blocking or jamming the bolts.
Safes can get stuck for a variety of reasons. It can be scary when you can’t access your safe, especially if you are trying to open a gun safe full of important papers or whatever else. But the truth is, you can eventually break through all safes, even if you need to call a locksmith first.
Safes are surprisingly delicate for such a sturdy object, and you need to be careful with their inner workings. Hopefully, after following the steps above, you got yours working again.