We hire people to care for my mom 24/7 in her home and we want one of the bedrooms to be off-limits to them. We lock the door from inside and then use a little screwdriver to unlock it. It was simple, just feel a groove and turn counter-clockwise.

However, the last time my sister visited she had a hard time opening it and damaged the mechanism, and I had a very hard time opening it the last time I went. I thought I wouldn't be able to open it and have to spend the night on the sofa and then call someone in the morning to open it, but after trying for a few minutes I was eventually was able to open it.

So now since I could not reliably unlock it I left the door unlocked. I am more and more uneasy about it and am considering asking someone to lock it.

How would I unlock it next time I go? Would a locksmith be able to do that, and how much would that cost?

Thank you!

  • 28
    You might consider replacing the "privacy lockset" that is commonly used in bedroom and bathroom doors with an "entry lockset". That would give you an easy way to lock and then close and then open with a key.
    – jwh20
    Nov 2, 2020 at 17:05
  • 10
    I would suggest that if you don't trust these people to not enter a room that's off limits, you might question whether you should trust them to care for your mother..
    – FreeMan
    Nov 3, 2020 at 13:31
  • 10
    @FreeMan It's not always as simple as that, at least in the country I live in. Nov 3, 2020 at 14:36
  • 2
    @MrWhite It's probably a door knob lock, as opposed to a deadbolt lock. With this type of lock, you usually turn a knob on the handle preventing you from turning the handle, or preventing the bolt from moving when you turn the handle. You can lock the handle with the door open and then close the door after you've exited the room.
    – Justin
    Nov 3, 2020 at 18:58
  • 6
    "and then use a little screwdriver to unlock it".........So you are the sole owner of the world's only little screwdriver?
    – MonkeyZeus
    Nov 3, 2020 at 20:11

2 Answers 2


You should just replace the lock with a keyed lock for the time being.

Since all that's required to open a passage lock is "a little screwdriver" it does not offer much "security" at all. (Damage may have come from using a tool that "worked" but was not the intended tool - i.e. the lock may intend a hex key but a flat-blade screwdriver of the right size might have fit "close enough" - may also have come from the fact that the outside mechanisms are intended for rare occasional use, not daily use.)

You might also want to add some video surveillance inside the room, it being 2020, if you suspect that people who should not are entering it.

If (common case with older relatives and help) the concern is that you are storing valuables in there, it's highly advisable to just move them to a safe deposit box before there's a problem.

  • 5
    +1. If you want extra security and/or peace of mind you could have a deadbolt installed, like the one's on entry doors.
    – Alaska Man
    Nov 2, 2020 at 18:51
  • @AlaskaMan If a keyed entry knob is not enough to keep people out of a bedroom, adding a deadbolt isn't going to do much, especially on an interior door. Might take an extra kick to break the frame, assuming the first kick didn't go through the door.
    – Z4-tier
    Nov 4, 2020 at 5:01
  • I'm not sure what country this is but if you don't pay your bill in the US, the bank can drill out the lock and claim the items inside. What's worse is that sometimes they mistakenly claim boxes and you have little recourse as the owner. The items are not insured by default. rd.com/article/why-bank-safe-deposit-isnt-safe
    – JimmyJames
    Nov 4, 2020 at 13:50

Have you considered getting a combination lock (Amazon have a variety of them - https://www.amazon.com/Combination-Door-Locks/s?k=Combination+Door+Locks ) - While not impossible to subvert these provide significantly greater security then privacy locks, and the convenience of not needing a key.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.