Have you, or, someone you know, ever been locked out of the bedroom or bathroom? It’s actually not as uncommon as you may think. These locks are called Privacy function locks. Depending on the type of privacy function lock a simple act, such as, accidentally bumping the interior door knob can result in the door locking once the door is pulled shut.
There are two main types of privacy function locks, push button activated, and thumb turn activated.
A push button privacy door knob locks by simply pushing a button located on the interior side of the knob. To unlock the door, simply turn the interior door handle, a “Click” sound will often be heard. But, how can this type of lock be opened from the outside? Begin by looking for a small hole located on the outside of the lock. This hole will commonly be located in the center of the door handle. To unlock,simply, insert a thin rigid object, such as a piece of coat hanger wire, into the hole to a depth of about 1 inch or less. Keep the tool level and slowly apply firm pressure until a click is felt/heard. The door is now unlocked.
The thumb turn style privacy door knob locks by turning a small, flat button located in the center of the interior door knob. To unlock from the inside the button must be rotated back in the opposite direction. But, what if the door needs to be opened from outside? To open from the outside, a small flat screw driver must be slowly inserted into the small hole located in the center of the door knob. Again, the tool will be inserted to a depth of 1 inch or less. Once, contact is made the screw driver will be slowly rotated until the tip falls into the slotted groove. This step requires a degree of patience. After, the flat tip is firmly embedded into the slot turn in the direction required until it stops, typically about ¼ turn. The door is now unlocked.
What do you do if the proper tool, such as a tiny screwdriver, is not available? Many common household objects can be substituted. For example, try using a bamboo skewer. Take a sharp knife and whittle one end of the skewer to create a flat head screw driver. Again, this is meant be a quick temporary method to unlock the door. The best advice is to have the proper tools handy in advance of an emergency lockout situation.
For households with small children or persons suffering from medical conditions which could result in the need for help once inside the room, one might consider replacing the privacy function door knobs with non locking door knobs called Passage function door knobs. This will prevent the door from ever being locked.