“New homeowners beware—bring all keys with you at all times!”

good humor

Gotta respect the good sense of humor!

A reader admits:

“Yesterday, I reached a new milestone and managed to find myself locked between the two front doors in the entry to my almost-purchased new home in Truxton Circle. After twenty minutes of trying to open the doors, sitting on the floor, checking work emails, wasting time on social media, my relator came to let me out.

New homeowners beware—bring all keys with you at all times!”

26 Comment

  • That’s hilarious. Good thing you had your phone.
    The first time I went to get my Sunday paper I forgot I needed my keys and had to throw bark mulch at my window until my then-boyfriend came and let me back in.

  • HaileUnlikely

    I did the same when I was installing the locks on my new security door. Fortunately I hadn’t installed the glass yet, and I was able to just pop out the insect screen and reach in to unlock it. On a related note – I get the security advantage of deadbolts that are keyed on both sides in the abstract, but in this case (and many cases), it adds no security over a simple thumbturn. Somebody who wants to break into the exterior door from the outside would have to break the glass to reach in and unlock the thumbturn, and if they break into this glass, they can obviously just walk on in without even bothering to unlock and open the door.

    • houseintherear

      My security door is a grid with 8×8″ holes. They break the screen, they ain’t coming in no matter how hard they try. That’s why I have a double sided lock.

      • Yeah — a double-sided lock makes sense in that situation, but as HaileUnlikely points out, if the exterior door is a single sheet of (breakable) glass (as in the OP’s situation), the double-sided lock might not have a security advantage after all.

        • but it’s a LOT more glass to break. may not matter, but may also be enough for someone else to hear and wander out to see what’s going on at the neighbors house.

  • isn’t this a code violation to require a key for egress?

    • HaileUnlikely

      Only for a rental.

    • It is if it is the only entrance to the home. If there is another door that has a thumbturn deadbolt, then it is okay to require a key for the second door. But locks get changed pretty frequently and it’s not like homes get inspected every time the locks are changed. So it’s not uncommon for homes to have these kinds of locks.

      If you have this kind of lock, the best practice is to store your keys IN the inside lock, as soon as you get home. I.e., always hanging in the door. That way it is impossible to walk out and forget them, and in an emergency the keys are right there in the door for you to open it.

      • PDleftMtP

        Then you have a thumbturn lock, all they have to do is break glass and reach through. We keep a set of keys on a red tag hanging from a hook just out of reach of the door for emergency purposes.

  • ah

    Glad you escaped . . .

    Isn’t this method of keying a major fire hazard? The fact that you can’t get out the (outer) front door without a key would mean the same for someone trying to escape in an emergency. I believe this is potentially against code, and suggest that you change the lock configuration.

    As pointed out in comment above, it doesn’t really add much security. Just make sure the internal door has a good lock that can’t be reached from outside.

    • It’s only against code for new construction or new doors. Most of the older security doors around the city are/were. We’ve replaced 2 of 4 doors in our home that were like this. There is no way in he– I’d be able to locate a key and unlock a door if there were an emergency. In fight or flight situations, my brain totally flies!

    • saf

      “Just make sure the internal door has a good lock that can’t be reached from outside”

      One time we were burglarized, they reached through the mail slot to unlock the knob and the bolt. Must have had a REALLY thin person to do it.

      We have keyed both sides now.

  • justinbc

    The first day we had our new exterior doors installed I managed to lock myself out because they didn’t tell me the new door locks had an automatic locking mechanism on them when you closed the door. I was so used to old schools where you have to manually turn it I would never have guessed. So just hours after paying a ton of money to put new doors in, I was borrowing my neighbor’s cellphone to try and pay someone to break me back in.

  • I did something similar shortly after we moved into our new house but it was the middle of the summer and I was stuck sitting on my front door step without my cell phone. A couple hours later, one of my neighbors came home and I was able to borrow his phone to call my wife to let me back into our house. A short time later, we replaced the lock with an electronic one so it wouldn’t happen again.

  • Anonomnom

    So something similar happened to my fiance and I when we moved into our first home last winter. He was teleworking and went outside on the porch to quickly answer a call, closed the doors behind him and neither of us realized at that point that there was a third lock on the door that could be switched so it locked when shut. This was during the first of the “polar vortexes” (vortexi? who knows) and I was not able to get home with keys for 30 minutes… Better believe we bought a realtor’s box and put a key outside just in case after that!

  • Reminds me of the time my husband and I locked ourselves out on our fenced (land-locked by other row houses) back patio. We had a phone, but the front door was locked so it wouldn’t have mattered who we called….Luckily the back door had small windows and we were able to break one to unlock the door. Fixed it with glass from Frager’s (RIP) and land-lord was never the wiser 😉

    • Something similar happened to me when dog/house sitting for a professor in college. I assumed I’d be able to replace the glass before they returned, but it turned out the glass was double-pane and I couldn’t even get all the broken glass out of the frame.

  • Oh no! I’ve almost done the same thing with our front cage. Glad you made it out!

  • LisaT

    HA! I did this once–between our front door and iron gate, just enough space for a person and her two dogs. And I’m a Realtor. LOL Had to get a kind passerby to go upstairs and get our then landlord to come set us free.

  • This happened when I moved into my new condo at Thomas Circle. The movers put down the last box and shut the locked door with my keys inside. I took the elevator down to the lobby to get the spare key when the elevator abruptly stopped and I was stuck on the elevator without my phone. I pushed the emergency button and within a half hour the fire department opened the elevator door for me. A great first day in my new condo! Note to self, always carry your keys and cell phone.

  • HA! Well, outside of that mishap, WELCOME TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD. I love it here and hope you do too!

  • I locked myself between the exterior door and basement door of my apartment the day of my graduation. From grad school. I guess I still had a lot to learn.

    With only the washer and dryer for company, I eventually knocked a hole in the apartment door with the broom and reached through to unlock the door.

  • Many years ago (back in the days before everybody and their cat, dog, and hamster had a cell phone), I lived on the 6th floor of a condo building and was awakened in the middle of the night by people yelling. Turns out a couple of people managed to lock themselves out on a balcony of a neighboring building. This went on for a couple of hours. Whoever was still inside must have been deaf not to hear them yelling and banging on the doors.

  • ah

    So fire code and safety aside, sounds like this is just a general hazard to anyone who doesn’t carry their keys everywhere!

  • I prefer to have doors that don’t lock automatically behind you – because I know there’s some times when I’m not going to have my keys in my hand. If I have an apartment door with a lock that can be set to lock automatically when closed, if it has a button you can push so that it stays unlocked, I push this, sometimes putting tape over the button so my guests don’t accidentally activate it. I’d rather lock the door every time using the key myself. I need to use the key anyway to lock the deadbolt, whether it is the kind incorporated into the doorknob lock, or a separate lock further up.

    It’s actually not a bad idea to have this for outer locks in small buildings as well. I owned a place in a building with four units that had a deadbolt you had to lock manually (with a key on the outside, knob turn on inside) and no buzzer system – just doorbells. People up top wanted us to install a buzzer system so they could buzz in stuff like pizza deliveries. But we never did. I liked it as a safety feature. It did make the building safer – no one was buzzed in, you had to go down and get them, and no guests could leave unescorted and leave the door not quite closed and locked either, as you and to go down and lock the door after them.

    I’ve had locks I would have to grab the key for to get out in a fire – in rentals – on kitchen doors with windowpanes and on cheap fire escape gates I installed an closed with padlocks (never did that again – thieves just sawed through my hefty padlocks anyway once.) But I wouldn’t want to do that again. I know that even if the key is always close by on a nail, I’m not going to be finding and using it well in a smoke filled apartment. I’d far prefer to fix the access problem – put bars on the windowpanes, and there are even things you can get to install over your front door mailslots to prevent someone being able to reach in and up, even with a rod or wire, to turn thumb knob as well. It costs more, which is why I never did it in a rental. Luckily I’ve either owned or lived in rentals with safer doors and the more expensive impossible-to-break-into fire escape gates since.

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