How to Fix a Deadbolt that Won’t Unlock


Anytime you are facing issues with your deadbolt, it might cause your door not to open. Even when you turn the key from outside or the lever from inside, the key moves all the way. However, the deadbolt does not budge a bit. When the deadlock does not move far enough, you will not be able to get your door open. Knowing how to fix a deadbolt that has refused to unlock is essential and enables you to resolve the issue.

Solution One

Start by getting the deadbolt off the door by removing the screws that hold it in place. The thumb turn mechanisms also need to be removed for inspection. Sometimes, continuous usage might jam these components, and they will need lubrication after a thorough cleaning. In case someone previously tried to force the lock and got one of the components of the deadlock bent, you have options to fix it. You will be required to straighten the bent component using a pair of pliers. The component being bent also shows that you are using a low-end deadbolt, which will need to be replaced. A locksmith can help you get the key to your new deadbolt if you have any concerns about it. Any debris stuck in the mechanism will also have to be removed. It will ensure that your deadbolt works as it was designed.

Solution Two

After many years of use, it becomes a bit difficult to lock and unlock your deadbolt. The stress resulting from the bolt being poorly aligned with the frame usually causes the bolt to break. In this case, the best solution that you can use is unscrewing the lock from behind. Once you have removed the lock, you can open the door with ease. You will be required to inspect your deadbolt for any signs of damage or breakages. In some cases, you might have to replace your bolt and file the strike to ensure that you do not run into more challenges while trying to get it open. Poor alignment can sometimes cause the deadbolt to enter the deadbolt hole at an angle instead of being horizontal. Since the door will not open, you can try to lift your door a bit to see if the deadbolt gets freed enough to retract it. If any of these approaches work for your door, then the angle is the problem, and you can fix this by adjusting the receptacle plates and tightening them up a bit. You can also try pushing down the door to see if this approach will work. If this does not work, you will need to closely study the components and clean them up to see if they will be effective.

Solution Three

For a multi-lock or an Assa Abloy deadbolt, you might need to replace the cylinder. Whenever you have taken the deadbolt apart to replace the various components, you should also remember to use new screws when you are assembling it back together again. You can fix misalignment by taking apart the deadbolt and replacing the screws. When the screws are in their proper place, they will align the deadbolt to the deadbolt hole, which will cause it to lock correctly. After years of use, some of the internal components might have gotten old and worn out. As such, they will not work as they would be expected and will require replacement.

Solution Four

Dry Teflon has been known to work wonders for many deadbolts that will not unlock. When you have sprayed the Teflon into the deadbolt, it will take around five minutes for it to get working correctly again. The lack of maintenance is the primary reason why your deadbolt is not working as you would expect it. Teflon is a better choice than graphite since it will spray on wet and gradually soak into the lock mechanisms. Additionally, the solvent will also evaporate once it has accomplished its work, which is quite convenient. It would be best to try moving the locking mechanism around after spraying the Teflon to ensure that it seeps in. The Teflon should have its effect on all the stuck parts of the locking mechanism, and within a couple of minutes, you should be able to use your deadbolt correctly without any issues with the unlocking.

Solution Five

When the deadbolt is stuck in the locked position for a long time, it is usually a sign that it has gone without maintenance for a very long time and cannot budge. Tapping lightly on the deadlock with a small hammer might cause some of the parts that had been disengaged to fall back into place. With a bit of gentle tapping, your deadbolt will be able to unlock once again. If you decide to unscrew your deadbolt, carefully examine the rod to ensure that it correctly lines up with the inside slot. It would be best to slide the rod back into its place, and the deadbolt tested to see whether it is unlocking. Testing while the door is still open will also determine whether you have an issue with your alignment and if your door is not aligned correctly with the frame. Problems with the alignment might be why other components are also out of place hence the reason for this approach to fixing the stuck deadbolt on your door.


A deadbolt that cannot unlock is usually jammed in the locked position. There are many reasons for this, such as old and worn-out components, misalignment, and some parts not being in their correct place. When you are faced with such a challenge, any of the five solutions that have been described above will help you fix the issue. Ensure that you try as many approaches as you can to allow you to fix the problem. If none of the methods you try are successful, you can get a locksmith who will be able to take apart your locking mechanism and inspect your deadbolt for errors and structural damages.

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