How to Unlock Double-Hung Window from Outside

In this age of DIY household projects, it’s crucial to equip ourselves with the correct knowledge for any task we undertake. Our homes are complex systems with numerous elements requiring specific care, one of which is our windows. Double-hung windows, a common fixture in many residences, can sometimes present us with a challenge when they become locked from the outside. With this guide, we aim to empower homeowners with the practical know-how on “how to unlock double-hung window from outside.” By following the step-by-step instructions in this article, not only will you be able to handle this issue by yourself, but you’ll also gain a greater understanding of your home’s intricate components, potentially saving you time and money in the long run.

How to Unlock Double-Hung Window from Outside

Importance of Unlocking Double Hung Window from Outside

The ability to unlock a double-hung window from the outside is more than just a handy skill; it’s a critical safety measure. In emergency scenarios, such as a fire or a lock-in, quick access to the interior of your home could be crucial.

Furthermore, if a window is accidentally locked with the keys inside the house, being able to unlock it from the outside can help you avoid a costly visit from a locksmith or potential damage to your property.

Lastly, understanding how your window’s locking mechanism works from an external perspective also contributes to enhancing your home’s security by identifying any vulnerabilities.

8 Methods on How to Unlock-Double Hung Window from Outside

Method 1: Using a Screwdriver

The most straightforward approach to unlocking a double-hung window from outside is by using a flathead screwdriver. First, you’ll need to locate the locking mechanism on your window sash. Generally, it’s positioned at the center of the sash and can be identified as two holes with a metal rod in between them. Then, carefully insert your screwdriver into one of the holes and apply pressure. If all goes well, the window should unlock.

Method 2: Using a Putty Knife

Similar to method 1, inserting a putty knife in between the two holes of the locking mechanism can help you pop it open from the outside. However, this technique works only if the window has been locked using a single-cam lock.

Method 3: Pushing Up on the Locking Mechanism

Using your fingers, attempt to push up on the locking mechanism from outside. If you’re successful, this should unlock the bottom sash and, therefore, the entire window. This method may also work with some double-hook locks — ones that slide horizontally instead of up and down.

Method 4: Inserting a Wire

This method will only work on single-hung windows (with the upper sash being fixed). You’ll need to find a sturdy wire or an old coat hanger and attempt to insert it in the lower sash so that it reaches the latch. Once you manage to move the wire into position, twist it in a circular motion until the window unlocks.

How to Unlock Double-Hung Window from Outside

Method 5: Prying Open Using a Pry Bar

Use a thin pry bar and attempt to insert it between the two sashes of your double-hung window. You can pop open the window this way. However, be aware that you could cause permanent damage to the frame if you’re not careful.

Method 6: Replacing the Lock

If all else fails, consider replacing the window’s lock entirely with a new one from your local hardware store. It may take more time and money than other methods, but it guarantees success in unlocking the window from the outside.

Method 7: Calling a Locksmith

If you need more confidence in taking matters into your own hands, feel free to contact a professional locksmith. With their expertise and proper tools, they’ll be able to unlock your double-hung window quickly and easily while making sure no damage is done.

Method 8: Contacting the Window Manufacturer

If you know who manufactured your window, reach out to them for assistance. They can provide specialized tools or spare parts that could help you unlock it from the outside.

By following any of these steps, you should be able to open your double-hung window without having to resort to drastic measures.

How to Avoid Common Mistakes When Unlocking a Double Hung Window from Outside

Unlocking a double-hung window from the outside can be a tricky process, and it’s common to encounter some pitfalls along the way. Here are some tips to help you avoid making these common mistakes.

Avoid Forcing the Window Open

One of the most common mistakes people make when trying to unlock a double-hung window from the outside is trying to force it open. This could result in damaging the window’s frame, the locking mechanism, or even the glass itself. Always use gentle, controlled movements when dealing with your windows.

Use the Right Tools for the Job

Using the wrong tool can not only be ineffective, but it can also cause damage to your window. Ensure that the tools you’re using are appropriate for the method you’re employing. For example, if you’re using a screwdriver, make sure it’s manageable for the lock.

Don’t Overlook Safety Measures

While it may seem simpler to just force the window open, neglecting safety measures can lead to injuries. Always wear protective gloves when handling tools and working with glass surfaces. If the window is at a height, use a sturdy ladder and have someone steady it for you.

Be Careful When Calling for Professional Help

While calling a locksmith or the window manufacturer can be a surefire way to unlock your window, be aware of potential scams. Always do your research and ensure you’re dealing with a reputable company.

How to Unlock Double-Hung Window from Outside

Remember, patience is key when dealing with a stubborn window lock. By avoiding these common mistakes, you improve your chances of successfully unlocking your double-hung window from the outside without causing any damage.

Tips on How to Maintain Your Double Hung Window Lock

Maintaining your double-hung window lock is essential in ensuring its longevity and functionality. Proper care can prevent unnecessary damage and avoid the hassle of frequent repairs.

Regular Cleaning

Dust and grime can accumulate in the lock mechanism over time, causing it to stick or malfunction. Regularly cleaning your window locks with a soft brush or a toothpick can help remove these particles. Use a gentle cleaning solution if necessary, but ensure it’s thoroughly dried afterward to prevent rusting.


Lubricating your window locks can greatly enhance their operation. Silicone-based lubricants are generally recommended, as oil-based products can attract more dust. Apply the lubricant sparingly and ensure it penetrates the lock mechanism for optimum performance.

Regular Inspection

Over time, window locks can wear out, become loose, or even break. Regular inspections can help identify these issues early, allowing for timely repairs or replacements. This is also a good way to assess the overall condition of your windows, including the frame and glass panels.

Avoid Forceful Handling

How to Unlock Double-Hung Window from Outside

Excessive force can cause damage to the lock mechanism. Always operate the locks gently and ensure they’re fully unlocked before attempting to open or close the windows.

Consider Professional Maintenance

For higher-end lock mechanisms or when dealing with persistent issues, professional maintenance might be the best solution. A reputable locksmith service or window contractor will have the necessary tools and knowledge to maintain your window locks properly.

Remember, with proper maintenance, your double-hung window locks can last for many years, providing secure and efficient operation.

Alternatives for When You Can’t Unlock the Window from Outside

If all the aforementioned methods fail and you still can’t unlock your double-hung window from the outside, don’t despair. There are additional alternatives you can consider.

Seek Assistance from a Neighbor or Friend

If you’re unable to unlock the window yourself, it may be worth asking a neighbor or friend for assistance. They may have a different approach or technique that could help with the situation.

Access through Another Window or Door

If you’re locked out of your home, consider whether there might be another window or door that is unlocked. Check all potential access points before resorting to more drastic measures.

Use a Window Breaker Tool

As a last resort, consider using a window breaker tool. This should only be used in extreme circumstances, as it will shatter the window glass, and you’ll need to replace it afterward.

Emergency Services

In case of an emergency, don’t hesitate to contact local emergency services. They are equipped with the necessary tools and expertise to gain entry without causing unnecessary damage.

Remember, safety should always be your top priority. Never attempt methods that you’re uncomfortable with, or that could put you or others in danger.


In conclusion, unlocking a double-hung window from the outside may seem daunting, but it can be accomplished effectively with the right techniques and precautions. Whether the solution lies in leveraging specific tools, calling on professional help, or even seeking assistance from a neighbor, the key is to exercise patience and care.

Remember to prioritize safety and avoid methods that could potentially cause harm or damage to your window. Maintenance should be noticed, as it can prevent many issues and extend the life of your window locks. Ultimately, understanding your window lock mechanism and knowing how to handle it can save you a great deal of time and unnecessary stress. Thanks for reading this blog post about how to unlock double-hung window from outside.

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