Advice / Lifestyle

How to Break Into a Tiny House

04 - Tiny House Leatherman Tread Snag Creek Campground YukonThe worst possible scenario happened.

Guillaume and I were camping happily in rural Alaska, hours away from civilization. We didn’t have cell service, but that suited us fine. In fact, we loved it! We spent our days fishing and managed to catch a few arctic grayling and rainbow trout. We cooked our catch over a fire and felt utterly content, until one evening when we tried to enter the tiny house and the door wouldn’t budge…

We weren’t locked out, the door just refused to open. After about thirty minutes of our best efforts, I began to worry we’d be spending the night in the truck!

There was no way to call for help, and even so, there was no one who would come!

Lucky for us, the weather was still very hot, so the windows were wide open. Guillaume pushed out the screen on our largest window and jumped inside.

He actually broke into our tiny house!

Once inside, he tried to open the door once again. The stubborn door was stiff; the mechanics locked in rigamortis. He took the doorknob apart but the latch bolt was frozen in the extended position. Finally he gave up, and told me the bad news – I’d have to climb in through the window, and so would the dog.

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The next morning we exited the house the same way. It was ridiculous – entering and exiting my own house through the window, and passing the dog through the threshold like Simba the lion cub whenever she had to pee. Our plan was to drive 83 miles to Valdez, a decent sized town, to find a locksmith. Guillaume rigged a system that secured the window in a cracked position. This way we could pry it open if the door was unfixable.

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I’m sure our house looked rather crude, unstable and a bit scary to the cars following us on the highway. . .

We found a locksmith relatively easily in Valdez, and he fixed the problem within twenty minutes with a bypass tool (I guess we should get one of those). Guillaume and I were relieved, but a question lingers… what if it happens again?? When your home endures a consistent beating, as ours does everyday on the road, a few broke and angry mechanisms are to be expected. Our door wasn’t the first mechanism to go on strike, but it was the most impairing. To be fair, we should have seen it coming. The door had been warning us for weeks – the knob gradually getting more and more difficult to turn – but it couldn’t have picked a worse location to break.

How can we prevent this from happening in the future? Any ideas?

19 thoughts on “How to Break Into a Tiny House

  1. Pingback: Happy New Year from Tiny House Giant Journey

  2. Pingback: How I Wasn’t Able To Break Into My Tiny House « The Tiny Life

    • Security hinges are hinges that are designed for outward swinging doors, as you’ve wondered. Standard hinges can have the pin popped out and the door just falls away, super easy to break in. Security hinges prevent that. They either hide into the door frame, or they have an indent that prevents the door from being opened even if the pins are removed.

  3. Was the jam out of alignment? My husband is a carpenter and I’ve watched him shim up those door jams and make fine adjustments to the door knobs… it’s tricky to do! It’s easy for things to get crooked while the vehicle is in motion all the time. Just need to find a good carpenter to give you a tutorial on how to realign your door jamb… and keep some shims handy in your tool kit maybe?

  4. Since it was something that had been warning you, sounds like as soon as you realize something is showing more & more wear to replace or at least examine closely the next thing that begins to act up as well, especially before you head somewhere that is too remote to access professional assistance quickly & reasonably?

  5. You two never cease to amaze me! I’d have sat with my elbows on my knees until someone came by. No, joking! Glad you got your problems sorted. Keep on keeping on.

  6. Silicon spray has become my best friend: just fixed old non-working car doors! Don’t now if that’s your problem though . . . Good luck!!!

  7. I would try to keep graphite in the mechanism fairly often to keep the parts moving. You can pick up a little tube at any hardware store, and it works great in most anything needing a key.

  8. Glad you were still able to get in! I once had a house that literally had all the door knobs in it break like that, I handled it by popping the door off (take the pin out of each of the hinges, the pull the door away from them) and the door will come out of the opening (just remember to pull and lift away from the door knob so the locked lock mechanism will slide out of the sill plate). You can then pop on another door knob, even if you have to “borrow” one from an interior door in a pinch, until you can get another one. Sometimes the pins get stuck, but a butter knife and something to hit it with (or a flat head screwdriver amd hammer) will usually pop them up.

  9. Love your blog…I have followed your journey from the beginning. Thank you so much for sharing.
    I have had the doorknob rigamortice nightmare myself. I was locked in a bedroom..thank goodness it was the first floor. My daughter helped me out through the window to safety. The poor locksmith, he was a big man and had to crawl back through and remove the knob. Adventures, that’s what they are.

    Have a question re: your wood siding behind the back tire. I noticed the wood being sand blasted from road? Is there a way of putting flaps on the wheel wells? Sad to see your lovely siding being ruined.

    Keep posting
    Barb from Ontario

    • Glad you like our website! What you see on the siding is actually just dirt and mud from Alaska and Canada. We hosed it off and the wood is just fine underneath. On the front of the house though, it’s a different story. Rain as we drive is enough to change the tint of the wood! But that’s ok.

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