How to Stop a Door From Being Opened

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There are several ways to stop a door from being opened if the lock doesn't work.
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If you're on the side of a door toward which it swings (the inside of the door), you have multiple options for keeping it closed when the door lock doesn't work or is missing. If you're on the outside of the door, your options are slightly more limited, but there are still several. In both cases, you can usually do the job with materials found around the house, but if you're on the inside, you can take advantage of commercial products that require no tools to install and make the door really secure.

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Options for the Inside of the Door

When you're on the inside of a door, the simplest ways to keep it closed are to barricade it by wedging a chair under the doorknob or to tap an actual wedge into the gap between the door and the floor. A rubber wedge works best, but you can also make an effective one from heavy cardboard and save yourself a trip to the store. Neither of these options is secure enough to prevent a determined burglar, however, so for added security, consider these methods:

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  • Use a portable door lock.​ Several models are available, from the inexpensive to the fairly expensive. You use one by opening the door, hooking a plate to the hole in the door strike, and then closing the door and connecting a second part that stops the door using the door strike for leverage.
  • Use a security bar.​ An adjustable bar can be wedged against the door knob like a chair, and it can also wedge in the track of a sliding door. It's one of the best ways to secure sliding doors. If you don't have one, a length of wood works just as well.

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  • Install a door barricade.​ This is a heavy-duty metal device that you screw to the floor in front of the door. It has a metal plate that butts against the door and prevents it from opening. You can use this on double doors as well as single ones.

Options for the Outside of the Door

None of the methods you can use for keeping a door closed when you're on the inside of the door will work if you're on the other side, but you still have options.

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  • Use tape and a broom handle​. Make sure it's long enough to span the door frame and tape it to the door handle. The degree of success of this method depends on how well you tape it and the type of tape you use. Duct tape is best, and if you want the door to be secure, use a lot of it.
  • Use rope.​ Tie one end of a length of rope to the door handle and the other end to a heavy stationary object in the room, such as a bed, sofa, or refrigerator.

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  • Remove the handles.​ This is easier to do than it sounds. Remove the screws holding the knob together, remove both handles, and keep them on your side of the door. When you need to open the door, slip the handle with the tailpiece into the latch and open the door. Bring the handle with you and you'll be able to open the door from the other side in the same way.

Install a Chain Latch or Barrel Bolt

If you don't mind making screw holes in the door and door frame, you can use a chain latch or barrel bolt on either side of the door to prevent it from opening. To install a chain latch, you screw one side of the latch to the door and the other side to the door frame. When screwing to the frame, use screws long enough to penetrate the door trim and sink into the framing behind the wall.

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If you choose a barrel bolt and you're on the inside of the door, you install the barrel to the door and the strike to the door frame. If you're on the inside of the door where you can't attach the strike to the door frame, drill a hole in the jamb deep and wide enough to allow the bolt to be inserted all the way.

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