We all ensure that our houses are our safe haven, where an intruder will not pose a grave threat to our families. We deck out every window and door with sophisticated security systems and reliable locks. However, there are times when they work against us.
In the most unfortunate times that you don’t have the keys to your doors, you might want to check if you can gain access to your windows. Windows are the next best thing to try opening since they’re relatively easier to hack into compared to thick, wooden doors.
If you happen to have a sliding glass window, we’ll show you how to unlock them from the outside, with and without tools. We’ll also show you how to unlock other types of windows in this article.
How To Unlock A Sliding Glass Window From The Outside?
Tools You Might Need
If you happen to have a neighbor around, you can try asking them if they have the following tools that can help you open your window:
- Pry bar or crowbar
- A thin razor saw or any similarly thin and long object
- Drill machine with small drill bits
- Hacksaw blade
The tools above are meant to be used to prevent your window from getting damaged. However, if you’re in a last-ditch effort, you might want tools that can cleanly cut through your glass window. You can get either a glass cutter to cut through glass cleanly, or a glass breaker to be able to break glass properly.
Of course, you can use the same tools above to simply break the glass, although they are not going to do it elegantly. But we’re trying to get inside our house, and being stuck outside doesn’t look pretty, so we’ll make do with what we have.
1. Opening an Unlocked Sliding Glass Window
There are two types of sliding glass windows. A vertical sliding glass window, commonly called a single-hung sash window, often has two panels. The top panel is usually fixed in place, while the bottom panel is the one that slides up and down. Double-hung sash windows, a type of vertical sliding glass window, can make both panels slide up and down.
Horizontal sliding glass windows often have both panels movable from left to right. Both vertical and horizontal glass windows often use a latch to lock them in place.
If your window happens to be unlocked, you can try to follow these steps:
- You can try to open the bottom panel by pressing your palms on the glass and pushing it up, using the friction on your hands to drive the panel up.
- If your hands are too wet or the window glass is too slippery, you might want to use a crowbar. Press the crowbar in between the window panel and the window sill, and crank the panel up. Be careful not to exert too much pressure on the window, or else it might break.
You can do this for both vertical and horizontal sliding glass windows. However, if your window was locked, then read on to know how to open them up.
2. Unlocking A Vertical Sliding Glass Window from the Outside
If you ended up with a locked window, you might have to do more than just push your hands on the window. The common locking mechanisms found on sliding glass windows are latches, although there are also general ways how you can pop the lock off (with a bit of force).
If your window uses a sash latch at the top of the bottom panel, you can try following these steps:
- If your window panels have a thin gap between each other, you can use the thin razor to slit in the gap.
- If there is no gap between each panel, you can grab the drill and bore a hole nearby the latch, big enough to fit in the razor or any similar object.
- With the thin razor in, try to pry the latch open by pushing it into the unlocked position. If the thin razor breaks, try using a different thin and long object that can fit in the gap.
- If you successfully opened the latch, you can then open the bottom panel with either your bare hands or a crowbar, as mentioned before.
However, if the previous process proves unsuccessful, your next choice might be to pop the lock off. There are three ways to go around this:
- The first one is to pry the crowbar into the sash where the latch is. You will need to apply enough force and work the crowbar until you can pop at least one side of the latch off.
- Another way is to pry the crowbar from the bottom windowsill. Press the crowbar between the bottom panel and the window sill, and slowly work the bottom panel.
- A third way is to break the lock by fitting a hacksaw blade through a gap and working the blade. This method can be effective on different types of window locks that use a form of a lever. A knife will also suffice for this method.
3. Unlocking A Horizontal Sliding Glass Window from the Outside
If your horizontal sliding window uses a similar latch as the sash window, you can follow the same processes as those outlined for sash windows. Make sure to pry at the side of the sash lock.
Last-Ditch Effort: Breaking the Window
If you have followed all the steps we’ve outlined above and you still can’t open your sliding glass window, then you might have to resort to desperate measures.
There are tools like glass cutters that can cleanly cut your glass window in an elegant and safe way. The best tool is a circle glass cutter, which can cut glass in a circle. This should be big enough for your hand to fit in and unlock the window properly.
Other glass cutters will work perfectly fine, too, although they will not be as convenient as the circle glass cutters.
If you happen to have a glass breaker for your car, you can try to use that as well. Although not as clean as the glass cutter, it will be far easier to break the glass window with it.
Of course, the brutish and obvious way to break through your window is to literally smash the glass with any blunt object, such as a prybar or a hammer. Pick the side closest to the locks of your window, and try your best to apply just enough force that will break the least amount of window.
Always remember to shield your arms, face, and body from the pieces of glass with a piece of cloth or any material to avoid injuries.
Other Types of Windows: Casement Window
Opening an Unlocked Casement Window
If you happen to have a different kind of window, it’s likely that you have a casement window. Casement windows open up through hinges and are actually older than sash and sliding windows. They can also use the same latch locks as the sash windows.
They can come as a single panel, hinged on either the left or right or as two panels, hinged so that the window opens either outwardly or inwardly.
Opening an unlocked casement window from the outside is pretty straightforward: if the window opens inward, it can be as simple as pushing the windows open. If it opens outward, you might need to pry the window, but at least you’ll only need your fingertips at best.
Unlocking a Casement Window from the Outside
Casement windows are also easy to open even if they are locked. You can simply fit a crowbar in between the panels (for two panels) or between the sill and the panel (for one panel) and pry the window open. If you are careful enough, you can easily force the window open without breaking the glass. You’ll end up with broken locks, though.
If that doesn’t work out well (especially if you have extra security features on your window), you can try forcing the latch open by using the thin razor and working the lock into the unlocked position. You can also use the hacksaw blade to simply cut through these special locks, like double bolt locks.
We aren’t perfect creatures, and there might be unfortunate circumstances when we forget our keys, locking us out of our house. This may force us to take drastic measures, such as forcing our windows open. Depending on the window type you have, you might need certain tools to preserve your window.
However, no matter how you plan to open your window from the outside, always remember to stay safe. Handling the tools necessary to open your windows is generally dangerous, so take safety precautions, especially with the crowbar and sharp objects.
When you (unfortunately) plan on breaking your window glass, make sure to keep your face, arms, and body safe from the fragments of glass that might reach you. Avoid injuring yourself by preparing a piece of cloth over the exposed parts of your body. Hopefully, you are able to get back inside your house with the steps we have outlined in this article.