You must learn how to open a window from the outside to save yourself from unnecessary expenses, like locksmith fees or repair, when you’re so impatient you throw a stone into the window.
Having this skill is helpful when you’re locked outside because you forgot your door key or when there’s an emergency. Nowadays, there are window frames built with modern locks, so some might not easily give in when you try to break in.
However, with the right tools and technique, you can effortlessly unlock a window from the outside.
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Different Types of Locks on Windows
First things first: before trying to unlock a window from the outside, arm yourself with the knowledge about the type of lock you’re dealing with. After all, “knowing is half the battle.”
1. Locks for double-hung sash windows
Double-hung sash windows are among the most common designs, as they are straightforward and user-friendly. It involves two sash sets or a frame that holds the glass. Though both panels are moveable, the bottom one is usually slid to open the window.
Sash locks are used to secure this type of window, and it has two parts: a catch and lever that are fixed into the upper and bottom sash, respectively. Also known as fasteners, sash locks work when the lever hooks up with the catch, effectively keeping the bottom panel in place (whether you keep it locked or open for ventilation).
2. Locks for horizontal sliding glass window
Sash windows can also operate horizontally, and there are specific locks for this type of orientation. As with the previously mentioned design, it has two panels, with one usually being slid though both are moveable.
The lock for a horizontal sliding window is similar to that of a double-hung design as it has a catch and a lever. However, the lock for this design is positioned on the side of the frames.
3. Locks for casement window
A casement or crank window is also popular, and its locks are straightforward. The lock mechanism involves either a lever, crank, or some kind of a handle positioned mid-window.
Oftentimes, it comes with two locks. When locked, the lever fixes a window, commonly used for those that open outward though some can be opened from the inside.
How to Unlock a Window From the Outside
The previously-mentioned locks are dependable and sturdy, but there are ways to unlock them from the outside. As such, having main and auxiliary locks are recommended when you want to secure your window.
1. Open a horizontal sliding window
- As with a double-hung sash window, it’s easier to open a horizontal sliding window if it’s unlocked. You need to push the moveable panel and slide it to open.
- You can also use a hacksaw blade, crowbar, pry bar, or some other type of lever, which you will wedge between the sliding panel and the sill to open it. This trick works only if there’s enough space between the window and the sill. Otherwise, forcing a tool between them might result in a dent.
- Sliding windows are locked with latches though some of them are not sturdy. If so, a few wiggles can undo the latch. Jiggle the sliding panel until you see the latch slowly unlocking.
As previously mentioned, said tricks only work if the window is unlocked and/or the latch is not sturdy enough. Remember, as well, not to put too much force when pushing, shaking, or using tools, as it might break the window, especially if it’s glass.
2. Open a window with casement lock
- If your window has a crank outside, you can easily use a crank to open it.
- Otherwise, grab a crowbar, pry bar, or any lever that you wedge between the frames, undoing the casement lock.
Once the lock’s handle or lever is off, you can open the window.
Again, practice caution when working with a crowbar or pry bar, especially if the window is locked. Since casement locks are usually used in outward-opening windows, too much force might cause damage, especially if you’re dealing with glass.
If the casement window opens inward, you can push it with enough force by using your shoulder or kicking it, if possible. However, there’s a risk of breaking the lock or the window itself even if it’s made of wood.
Other Methods to Open a Window
Crowbars, pry bars, or some other kind of levers are the best tools to open a locked window from the outside. However, if there’s an urgent need to open the window, say during an emergency, breaking the glass is your best bet.
Before breaking glass, you must cover your hand with a cloth and keep your face away to be safe from debris.
- You can break the glass by hitting it with something hard, like your tools. When breaking, you can destroy the whole frame or just the part near the lock or latch, enough to unlock it with your hands.
- Alternatively, if you have glass-cutting tools, like a circle glass cutter, you can break a portion of the glass near the locks or latch to reach it. Since this is time-consuming, it is not advisable during an emergency.
- Meanwhile, if you have a wooden window, you can break it using a saw, hammer, or any other hard material that can penetrate through it.
It need not be said: breaking the window should be your last resort to avoid injury and repair expenses.
Is it legal to break windows in your own home to get in?
It is not illegal to break windows in your own home because, duh, you own the property. However, if someone, say a passerby, saw you breaking in in the middle of the night, they might alert the police. If authorities indeed came, you might be questioned and asked to prove that you own the property.
Where to buy glass-cutting tools?
Glass-cutting tools are readily available online and in any trusted hardware store. Said tools are helpful when you like working with glass windows or, as previously mentioned, when you need to unlock a house window outside.
How to open a UPVC window from the outside?
UPVC means unplasticized polyvinyl chloride, a plastic material that can be an alternative to wooden or glass window frames. UPVC windows employ traditional locks (sash, casement, or sliding), so they can be opened, too, using the previous tricks.
There are practical ways to open a window outdoors without breaking it. Knowing how to do so with a crowbar, pry bar, any other lever, or glass-cutting tools will help you be ready in times of emergency. That is if you have tools ready when you’re locked outside.
Remember that when learning how to open a window from the outside, don’t put too much force or pressure to avoid damaging it. Furthermore, breaking the window should be your last resort.
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