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Old 03-26-2011, 01:44 AM   #1  
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Default Anyone ever open a locked door by taking it off its hinges?

I'm writing a novel, and my character is locked in a basement. I was going to have her escape by taking the hinges off the door, and I wondered whether that's feasible.

The door opens onto the kitchen, and there's no outside access to the basement, so it's not a door that would necessarily have a very secure lock.

Has anyone every done this?


Is it possible for a 150 lb woman to do alone?

How long would it take?

If the door opens inward (which I think it would have to, in order for the hinges to be on the right side), is she going to be able to take the door off, or is it going to knock her down the stairs?

Wouldn't the lock interfere with opening the door?

Is there an easier, faster, better way to get out (she only has a screwdriver).

I'm assuming a standard indoor type lock (like on a bedroom or bathroom door, not a deadbolt or anything).

Would removing the doorknob be easier or even possible. I'm assuming an older home, maybe Victorian. Would the doorknob me removeable from both sides, or just one (and would it be on the locker or the lockee side of the door?)


I considered a hook and loop latch (a butterknife or thin piece of material would be the only tool necessary. Panic could account for some delay in her figuring it out, but even so, I think she would have figured that out sooner than I need her to).

Is there a lock that's relatively easy to pick with no lock-picking experience, but yet would still take some time (say 20 minutes)?
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Old 03-26-2011, 02:00 AM   #2  
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you can't have a door swingning in over the stairs. It would always swing out.

It's pretty easy to take off the hinges if you had a screw driver and a hammer.
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Old 03-26-2011, 02:02 AM   #3  
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On the doorhinges, yes, you can take a door off its hinges if it is locked. In an older home, you probably don't even need the screwdriver...just need to knock out the hinge pins.

http://www.homealarmmonitoring.org/y...a-locked-door/

The door would have to open toward you, in which case, that'd be a tricky thing to accomplish with the stairs there, but possible, I guess.

It'd probably be easier on the stairs to remove the doorknob.

http://www.ehow.com/how_4814091_remo...-doorknob.html
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Old 03-26-2011, 02:06 AM   #4  
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The doorknob would definitely be easier, but the screws are usually on the same side as the lock. That is, accessible one just one side - the locker's side.

Last edited by chickadee32; 03-26-2011 at 02:07 AM.
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Old 03-26-2011, 02:21 AM   #5  
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http://www.instructables.com/id/How-...-Macgyver-way/

Totally think you should Macgyver it up xD
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Old 03-26-2011, 02:39 AM   #6  
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If it's an older home, and she has a screwdriver or other metal implement, the wood of the door jamb might also have become worn/soft enough to chisel away and force back the locking mechanism (pin? don't know what it's called). I did exactly that with a dorm room bathroom door, in a building constructed circa 1906, which had blown shut and locked (the lock was worn and slippy) with no one on the inside. It took about 20 minutes. I don't remember why we didn't take it off the hinges, maybe they were on the wrong side.

Last edited by bronzeager; 03-26-2011 at 02:39 AM.
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Old 03-26-2011, 02:49 AM   #7  
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Thanks everyone for the input. It's helped a lot. Now I just have to decide which tactic to use.

I'm excited. I've never gotten this far into a novel without losing focus and running out of plot ideas (and without coming up with an "even better" story line that makes me want to abandon this one).



Quote:
Originally Posted by cherrypie View Post
you can't have a door swingning in over the stairs. It would always swing out.

It's pretty easy to take off the hinges if you had a screw driver and a hammer.

It may not be the proper or safe way to hang a door, but you definitely can have a door swing over the stairs, because I've visited two homes which did, including my parents current home (they didn't install the door, it was that way when they moved in). I always thought it was rather hazardous, because it is very awkward to even open the door with anything in your hands from the basement side (it's where we stay when we visit my parents). When my young nephews are there, the door is usually locked from the upstairs side with a hook and eye latch far out of their reach (near the top of the door). My parents have even "forgotten" that we were in the basement, and latched us in (I nearly killed myself trying to open the door - thinking it was closed but not locked).

Still if it's uncommon, I probably would want to avoid that - or at least mention that it was put in "wrong."

Last edited by kaplods; 03-26-2011 at 03:00 AM.
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Old 03-26-2011, 08:15 AM   #8  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by summershine View Post
vacuum cleaner
paper
dental floss


Totally think you should Macgyver it up xD


COLLEEN ~Keep in mind if it is a newer home that door going to the basement could be a fire rated door...which would be much heavier than a normal door....we use some that are over hundred pounds.
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Old 03-26-2011, 03:59 PM   #9  
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My SIL's home has a basement. The door opens in towards the basement. My late husband's mother's home was a Victorian home. It had a basement and the door to it opened in towards the stairs, too.

Your story sounds interesting.
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Old 03-26-2011, 05:23 PM   #10  
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I lived in a Victorian home that had been converted to a dorm in college, and now that I think about it, I think the basement door opened inward there too. The washer and dryer were in the basement and the basement was seriously creepy (one girl refused to do her laundry there. She'd bribe one of us to do her laundry or she'd lug it to one of the other dorms). We'd prop the door open with a brick, and when you came up the stairs with the laundry, you'd have to be careful not to trip over the brick (so you'd walk as close as you could to the latch side of the door frame so you wouldn't trip over the brick on the top step/landing)

When I did homevisits as a probation officer and case manager for substance abuse counseling, I ran into some weirdly built homes (especially Victorian). One house was obviously hand-made and every step was a different depth and height. If you didn't step slowly and watch your feet as you climbed the stairs, you felt like you were tripping, because the steps under your feet were all different depths and heights. It had a weird funhouse feel. The owners said they couldn't wait to sell the house, because they'd fallen on the stairs so many times.

I've never gotten this far on a novel before without running out of ideas or interest. My husband is really helping, he's a great critique (even though it's painful during the process, especially since it usually ends up with the wordcount going backwards as I edit the parts that aren't working).

If it passes his plausibility sensors, I'll be pretty happy.

Last edited by kaplods; 03-26-2011 at 05:25 PM.
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Old 03-26-2011, 09:09 PM   #11  
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A basement door wouldn't swing inward, as it would be swinging into the stairs... unless it's the basement door from the house I used to live in. It seems like from the other posts, a lot of people with older homes have basement doors that swing inward, so I suppose your escape is feasible.
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Old 03-31-2011, 10:55 PM   #12  
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I'd just edit in that there's a small landing before the stairs start. Otherwise, it would throw me off as I was reading it, and I'd just be focused on how terribly the house was built, how dangerous it was, and how the people who are in charge of enforcing building codes would have a hayday if the new owner wanted to get an add on approved and was told to fix all the doors before the blueprints could be signed and set.

...but, my boyfriend is an engineer, so I have a slight bias..
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