I thought it would be simple to replace a deadbolt for which I don’t have the key — however after opening up the backset, I can’t get the deadbolt to open in the obvious way.

What am I missing? I assume there is some kind of pin safety mechanism that I need to apply counter pressure as I turn the deadbolt to the centre of the door.

enter image description here

  • I have removed them with a flat blade screwdriver that fit by twisting while rattling the door if stiff sometimes the dead bolt is dragging on the latch and it can be difficult.
    – Ed Beal
    Jul 21, 2022 at 20:14
  • @EdBeal I considered it the obvious way…. This thing is just not moving. Jul 21, 2022 at 20:27
  • Have you lifted on the door while trying?
    – Ed Beal
    Jul 21, 2022 at 20:29
  • 1
    do you solve all your problems that way ?
    – Traveler
    Jul 21, 2022 at 20:43
  • 2
    @Ruskes I certainly do. Jul 21, 2022 at 21:07

3 Answers 3


Sometimes the bolt and the strike plate are a little misaligned causing friction in the lock mechanism. When turning the center hole in the lock with a flat-bladed screwdriver that spans across diagonal corners, try pushing the door toward the jamb to see if the lock will release. If it does not, try pulling away from the jamb, pulling the door upward, or pushing the door downward, all while trying to turn the bolt with the screwdriver.

  • It just wouldn't move. I had to literally expose the deadbolt itself inside the deadbolt assembly and pull it away from the strike with pliers. Jul 22, 2022 at 4:14

Comment converted to an answer. Since you have the lock mechanism use a flat blade screwdriver that will fit in the X snugly,

try rotating as you have but wiggle the door and possibly lift on the door as it is common for a door to sag and the shaft to be very stiff.

I have used a wonder bar to lift doors slightly, wiggling while trying to retract the bolt.


So to answer my own question...

In case anyone else is in the same boat:

There wasn't any location where I needed to apply pressure. The reason that the simple screwdriver-in-center-hole turn didn't work is that the deadbolt was stuck in the strike plate. The amount of force needed to overcome the stickiness of the deadbolt was more than what the turning mechanism could support with a screwdriver.

So the only way I was going to be able to get the deadbolt to move is to pull it directly back.

Although I ended up crushing and bending the deadbolt assembly, I wasn't able to open the deadbolt until I could actually grab the top of the bolt and pull it directly perpendicular away from the strike.

What I realized afterwards is that I might have been able to pull the little tab with needle-nosed pliers. I circled the tab in green and showed the direction to pull with the arrow.

So if you find yourself in a similar situation, try it first.

enter image description here

  • Did you try tapping that tab with a toffee hammer? That would have been among my first moves.
    – Tim
    Jul 22, 2022 at 6:32
  • 2
    My first move would have been a wedge under the door; by the looks of the angle on the mechanism, the door's sunk.
    – Tetsujin
    Jul 22, 2022 at 7:10
  • @Tetsujin it’s possible the angle of the assembly has more to do with the fact that I’d already wrestled with it quite a bit before I took the picture to post here — so I may have already bent it a bit. Jul 28, 2022 at 17:13

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