How To Open A Locked Window? 3 Types of Locks

Windows are a crucial part of every house and they let light and fresh air into our homes. Without them, the quality of human life in our homes would be unimaginably low. That’s why not being able to open a locked window can be frustrating. Windows are usually lock up from the inside and if you find yourself outside the house without keys, you cannot enter your home.

There have even been cases of people locking themselves out on the balcony by accident. If you find yourself in such a situation, don’t panic. In this article, we’ll explain how to open a locked window based on types of locks and window types. So, let’s start.

Different Types Of Window Locks

As mentioned above, it is not uncommon to forget house keys. Instead of calling the locksmith, which can also cost you, a smart way to get into your home is to check if you left any windows open. If you didn’t, there are ways to open a locked window as well. The technique depends on the window type and where the window is located. To begin with, we will introduce you to the most common types of windows and how their locking systems work. Here are the 3 different types of window locks.

A) Double-Hung Sash Windows

Double-hung sash window Operating Principle

Double-hung sash windows have two sashes that move by sliding up and down. That way air can come in from the top, bottom, or both. Example double-hung sash window you can see in the picture above. Characteristics by which you can recognize a double-hung sash window are:

  • A rotating cam on top of the frame positioned on the outside.
  • A hook in the inner window that is part of the sliding mechanism. It is connected to the bottom of the frame.
  • A sash lock or barrel locks, depending on the manufacturer. Sometimes even both.
  • A pivot lock at the top of the frame that has a pin meant to fit into specific holes in order to lock the window.
  • A handle shaped like a pancake used to open the window.

B) Horizontal Sliding Windows Lock

Horizontal Sliding Window

Aluminum and vinyl windows are made of one non-moveable and one sliding half. They lock by a catch placed on the frame or by two locks in one of which there is a catch locked to the bottom track. If the window does have both, unlatching one will not open the window. You should know how to work both in order to open the window efficiently. You can also see an example of this type of window in the picture above.

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This window type has inbuilt strings that enable it to support an automatic locking system. If the windows move out of the track, the sliding system can easily stop working making it impossible to move the window. If that happened to you, try lifting the window and turning the pivot handle to unlock it.

C) Casement Windows Lock

Casement Window

A Casement Window is attached to the window frame by hinges on the sides. They are used separately within one common frame that attaches to the outside. They usually open with a casement stay. The windows on the top are called awning windows and the ones at the bottom are referred to as hoppers. The Casement windows are the most commonly used windows in households.

They slide open horizontally on hinges. The locking system is based on a barrel lock or a hook-and-lock. These locking systems are regulated by a key. But as we will mention below, these windows can also be opened.

Step-by-Step On How To Open Different Locked Window

Now that you’ve read about different types of windows and their locking mechanism, in this chapter we’ll explain how to open each type of locked window. As you already know, each type of window work in a different way. Therefore, it’s important to know how they function In order to open them.

1) How to Open Sash Lock Window

Window Sashes move by sliding on built-in tracks. They lock by placing the sash in the windowsill that then locks it into the window frame. There are two types of sash locks: single-hung and double-hung. The problem with these windows usually occurs when the temperatures increase, or humidity rises.

Then the sashes get jammed or stuck more often. Additionally, if the sashes are wooden the chances of malfunction are even higher. That’s because wood expands, and contracts based on temperature. Another situation in which the window can get stuck is when the sashes warp from the house settling. If this is the case, you most probably need a new window and a professional repairman.

Step-by-step how to open a sash lock window: 

  • Step 1: Find where the top of the sash is located. It’s usually in the middle of the window and made of wood. That’s where you should place your hands.
  • Step 2: By using your palms, push up the sash upward to divide the windowsill and the bottom of the window. You should push high enough so that there is enough room to slip a hand between the windowsill and the freed sash.
  • Step 3: Once you did that, push the window with both of your hands underneath the sash. That’s how you open a sash lock window.

How to Open a Stuck Sash Lock Window

  • Step 1: The first thing you can do to open a stuck sash lock window is to use a sharp utility knife. By using the utility knife, scratch the surface between the sash and the frame of the window. If this method doesn’t work, then move on to step two.
  • Step 2: Instead of a utility knife try a putty knife with a blade. Try wedging it in. Then tap the end of the knife with a hammer. Do this lightly, with no extreme force. If this doesn’t work either, try step three.
  • Step 3: By using a pry bar, walk outside to the window and use it right under the windowsill. Now by using a hammer, place a wooden block just under the pry bar and hit it gently. Do this step all around the windowsill.    
  • Step 4: The window should open by now. Once it is, use sandpaper to rough out any areas that might get in the way of opening the window next time. You can even rub paraffin or beeswax in the tracks where the window slides. That will prevent sticking in the future.

For sure the best option is to change out the window for a new one.

2) How to Open a Horizontal Sliding Window From The Outside

Burglars and special forces open windows and doors from the outside all the time. It seems simple when they do it but that’s only because they are very well trained and have the required tools for the job. There are some ways you can do it as well that do not require exclusive equipment.

Here are the steps:

  • Step 1: The most obvious first step is to check if the window is open. If it is, just push it with your hand and it should open right up. If not, that’s when it gets a bit trickier. Try sliding a crowbar (pry bar) in between the window and the windowsill and shimmy it around until it opens. If the window is fully latched, this technique most probably will not work. Move to the step two.
  • Step 2: Try to place a thin hacksaw blade into the window close to a latch. Then try flipping the latch by moving the blade straight in. If you can reach it, push the latch with the blade until its open. If this doesn’t help you either, then try step three.
  • Step 3: Breaking the lock should be your last resort. That’s because once the lock is broken, the window isn’t functional anymore. If the situation is urgent and you really must get into your house, break it. It’s up to you. Just use the pry bar, and lean it on the latch to open the window.

In this YouTube video, you can see how to open a locked horizontal sliding window from the outside in just under 20 seconds.

3) How to Open a Locked Casement Window

There are numerous reasons why a casement window can get jammed. Therefore, knowing how to open the window with latches from the outside is good. It is possible by utilizing a set of different skills:

  • Firstly, you can use a sharp blade to scratch off any dry paint residue between the sash and the window frame. To achieve this, softly hammer the end of the blade until it is deep in the window space. Repeat this step on the exterior part.
  • Using a towel around a small piece of wood and hammering it until all the remainders fall off. By placing it against the sash, this should work instantly. If not, repeat these steps all the way around the window as well.
  • Placing a putty knife in between the frame and the sash and then bending the knife. This should be done around the whole window in its edges.
  • Using two putty knifes instead of one to increase the probability of the window opening.
  • Applying a lubricant, mostly in the form of spray, on the hinges. This should loosen up the screws in the hinges and reduce friction.
  • Using sandpaper to smooth out the area between the frame and the sash. With sandpaper you can remove paint and flatten bumpy parts of wood. You can apply candle wax to prevent sticking in the future.

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Here you have also a great Youtube video on how to open a casement window that has a broken lock.

If you want to know how to blackout a window completely, you can read our full article, 10 Ways To Blackout A Window.

Related Article: 6 Easy Steps To Close Your Window Blinds

FAQ: People Also Ask

1. Why Do Sliding Doors Get Stuck?

Sliding doors have an amazing mechanism but they do get stuck often. That’s because of the tracks in which the window moves get filled with filth or something from the outside. Especially if your home is close to traffic.  

2. Can Someone Break In Through A Locked Window?

It is possible to break through a locked window if you have the right equipment with you and the skills that are needed. To do this, you first must know how the locking mechanism works for each type of window. Additionally, do not keep expensive and easily carriable things in your backyard because those are mostly a burglar’s first and simplest target.

3. Is It Easy To Break Into UPVC Windows?

Even though UPVC windows seem safe and sturdy, many robberies are done by entering through those windows. It’s because the locks are old or because they weren’t installed properly. This is something a burglar can easily recognize. Therefore, he can grasp and snap the cylinder with no hassle.

Final Thoughts

Opening a stuck or locked window isn’t impossible but it does require a bit of knowledge and skill. In this article, we have explained the types of windows, their locking mechanism, and how to open each one. You should be able to succeed if you have the right attitude and of course the right tools and skills. But if you already find yourself in such a situation, it still is the best thing to do is replace your window or call a professional. I hope that this article helped you, and if you have any additional questions feel free to ask.

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