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    Sentry Fire Safe Won't Open, It's Broken! Can't Unlock Fire Safe

    By lighthouse

    Pictured above, a sentry safe that failed to open after the combination numbers were pushed and the little plastic piece that disabled it.
    So I called the sentry safe company, (800-828-1438), and waited for about 10 minutes to speak to a representative, (that was alright since I have a speaker phone). The first thing they asked me was about the condition of the batteries. I told them that they were brand new. The person then asked about the brand name and expiration date of the batteries. They were generic batteries, but the expiration date was fine. They suggested a new set of batteries, and mentioned that I could bypass the battery pack, (which sometimes fails), by unplugging the pack and using a regular 9 volt battery.. So just to cover the base, I went down to the store and obtained a brand new 9 volt duracell battery. I unplugged the battery pack and plugged in my new battery. I then pushed the combination numbers and my safe again failed to open.

    I called the sentry company back using my speakerphone feature again while waiting to speak with a technician. The tech asked me about the batteries and I told him it had a new 9 volt at the last technician's recommendation. The person began to talk about the actuator cylinder inside the safe, stating that it did not sound like it was actuating. Then they told me something that really made me wonder about the quality of this safe. They told me I would need to hit the safe with a rubber mallet in an attempt to get the actuator to engage so I could open the sentry safe. OK, so the safe is supposively built to keep my belongings safe from thieves and fire, but now I am going to fix it with a rubber mallet? Good thing my sentry safe was inside, somebody might have wondered about my mental state if they had seen me beating this fireproof safe with a rubber mallet! (PS: If you use the rubber mallet option or any other suggestions that sentry's customer assistance supplied, and have firearms or dynamite in your safe, you do so at your own risk, use wise judgement for your own safety)

    Well it just so happens that I had a rubber mallet and did not need to once again go to the store to get something to personally fix my great sentry fireproof safe. So I begin beating the upper middle door area of the sentry safe with this mallet and then tried the combination again. Woolah, It opened! I stopped for a moment and began to ponder how many other things I could fix with this magical rubber mallet. I mean, what about the TV, the computer, my fridgerator and that cell phone that always drops calls? Could it be that I have discovered the fix all to all mechanical issues? As I began to look at my belongings in my fireproof safe that I have just opened with a rubber mallet, I thought  "so if I close the safes door will I need a sledge hammer next time"?

    Time for another phone call, back to the speakerphone. The technician this time listened to my issue and asked me if I had some lubricant like WD-40 with a small tube that attaches to nozzle. I thought,  "well of course I do, I was just using that to fix the broken water pipe in the garage." The phone tech tells me where to spray the lubricant on the inside of the sentry safe door. He has me do this in the open and closed combination positions, and it's now opening when I press the combination numbers with the door open, hurray! The only problem is that after working in the lubricant a few times the handle on the door does not lock into the locked position. I no longer need the combination to unlock my safe, I only need a can of lubricant! OK, this is one really tough safe, what thief would ever think that they would need a rubber mallet and a can of silicon lubricant to open up a safe?

    Back to the speakerphone, this time a lady technician. She wants me to get a screwdriver and pry off the plastic piece on the back side of the door. At this point I said to her, you have built a product that I need to have a rubber mallet, a can of 3 in 1 spray lubricant, and a screwdriver to open? She stated that she was doing all she could to help me fix my safe and asked me how long I had owned the safe. I told her about 2 years and she stated that it was out of warranty. I thought, well who needs a warranty when they have a magical mallet, a can of black led, and a screwdriver? Anyway she directs me to pry the plastic backing off of the door and when I do this little piece of plastic falls out onto the floor. I look at this little plastic piece pondering in my mind, what's it's part in all of this. Well the technician is directing me to look at the arms and gears and some arrows that line up between the metal arms and plastic gears. What's wrong with that picture? Metal and plastic don't really work together long before the plastic breaks. I had to wonder for a moment, is this some really expensive fireproof plastic? The arrows line up and with that information she directs me to the area of the actuator again, she says "you see the circuit board" and a little white button that sticks out from it?" I said well yes, I see the circuit board and the little white button you are talking about seems to be laying on the floor broken off. So I picked it up and said, "this little broken piece of plastic that connects to the metal arm on the safe is why the safe does not work right?" She tells me yes that's the problem, that i have broken it and since it's out of warranty that there is nothing she can do to help me. But she then asks me to hold on for a moment…..

    She comes back to the phone sounding sincere, like she has just solved all my problems, and tells me that she has spoke to her supervisor and that they can offer me 10% off on any safe that I would like to purchase. I thought what great customer service, now they want to sell me another safe with metal and plastic pieces that break and give me a huge discount of 10%, and I bet it comes with a free maintenance kit which includes a polo stick, some lard oil, and a screwdriver on the rocks! Needless to say I declined their gracious offer.

    I will say that all the organizations personnel, (that I spoke with), were courteous and trying to be helpful, (that was within the realm of authority they were given). With a product such as this, and the great customer service I experienced, I thought it was probably best to find a safe that was free of little plastic pieces that break off, cause those plastic pieces won't save you 10% !

    A side note, recently I have received a couple of comments from someone who apparently holds stock in this company. He is trying to say that it's a fire safe and it's only supposed to protect your goods from fire. My first thought about that was; HELLO? Why would they put a key lock and combination lock on it then? I mean, are the locking mechanisms solely for the purpose of keeping the fire out of the safe? Then I thought some more, if this safe was in a fire, it would get hot, because it's not like a freezer inside, well except for those plastic parts and the plastic liner around the inside and around the door. What do you suppose might happen to those in a fire? I seen a stove recently that had some plastic on the door of the oven, high temperature resistant or not, it was melted.


    Topics: Kick It To The Curb | 316 Comments »

    316 Responses to “Sentry Fire Safe Won't Open, It's Broken! Can't Unlock Fire Safe”

    Pages: « 1 2 [3] 4 5 6 7 » Show All

    1. 101
      Denise Says:

      We hit the pins on the door frame inch long on each side.

    2. 102
      Sameer Says:

      Thanks for the original post! I have the exact same safe which had the exact same issue. I used the "rubber mallet" trick described in the post above and the safe opened magically! Man I could not control my laugh after that!
      Thank you! Thank you!

    3. 103
      joseph Says:

      i think i have a boat anchor i wish i had found this sooner

    4. 104
      Mister Wizard Says:

      Well written.  I laughed out loud!

    5. 105
      Bajanrod Says:

      Thank God I accidentally came across this link. I was able to use a 9 volt battery to get my safe opened. Now I have to pull up on the handle for it to go in the lock position. Then display only shows the unlock icon though……….I guess we all have to pray the theives don't ever go hold of our worthless safes.

    6. 106
      william Says:


    7. 107
      Marcelo Says:

      Thank you all for your advice; after several tries – the rubber mallot work; I don't know if I want to use the safe again. It looks like Sentry has a huge quality curve to overcome…

    8. 108
      Scott Says:

      I’m still laughing about this, albeit a little less than an hour ago. I had the same problem happen this afternoon on a 5 year old safe that had the door open for the last two. That’s due the the only good thing about the safe which is that it holds the moist air insode REAL well. My wife decided it was time to close the door and start using the safe again today. Too bad she didn’t test the lock out before putting everything in the safe and locking it…and THEN trying to open it. Nope. Wouldn’t budge. The solenoid normally makes a faint click when you enter the correct combination on the keypad, but not today. No clicky, no open.

      Then I found this site. Grabbed the mallet and whacked the snot out of the door two or three times. Voila!!! Door opened. Tried again with the door open and it woked. Tried again and it didn’t. Hit it with a shoe and it opened. Needless to say, this thing is getting opened up tomorrow and I’m gutting the electronic lock portion. That’s only to make due until I get around to getting a real safe.

      Thanks for the site.

    9. 109
      Scott Says:

      I'm still laughing about this, albeit a little less than an hour ago. I had the same problem happen this afternoon on a 5 year old safe that had the door open for the last two years. That's due the the only good thing about the safe which is that it holds the moist air inside REAL well. My wife decided it was time to close the door and start using the safe again today. Too bad she didn't test the lock out before putting everything in the safe and locking it…and THEN trying to open it. Nope. Wouldn't budge. The solenoid normally makes a faint click when you enter the correct combination on the keypad, but not today. No clicky, no open. Then I found this site. Grabbed the mallet and whacked the snot out of the door two or three times. Voila!!! Door opened. Tried again with the door open and it worked. Tried again and it didn't. Hit it with a shoe and it opened. Needless to say, this thing is getting opened up tomorrow and I'm gutting the electronic lock portion. That's only to make due until I get around to getting a real safe.
      Thanks for the site.

    10. 110
      Jose Says:


      NOTE FROM EDITOR: Everyone’s issues are not the same, you can’t fix broken parts with grease. Happy you got it open though!

    11. 111
      Brad Says:

      I SAWED IT!!!
      My 4 year old sentry safe just stopped working last weekend.  The key code registered just fine, but the handle would not turn.  I was not able to get a response from Sentry Safe's phone number or email listing.  Thank goodness for this site.  I would have paid a locksmith over $100 and now I have a new saw!
      I tried the 9 volt battery and hitting on the door of the safe with a rubber mallet.  Neither worked.  Then I began thinking about a locksmith vs sawing the safe.  Someone on here said that they used their Sawsall to cut through the safe.  Why not?  Went to Lowe's (bought the damn safe at Home Depot) and bought a 12 volt Dewalt reciprocating saw for around $120.  Also got some metal cutting blades.  
      I have never in my life used any type of electrical saw.  I sat the safe on the garage floor and faced the door to my right.  I then began sawing through the safe parallel to the door frame, about 1 inch behind where the seam to the front of the safe was.  If I hadn't been so afraid of cutting off my hand or damaging something in the safe, I would have had the safe open in under 1 minute.  I used 1 saw blade.  It was still sharp when I had finished.  There were no fragments/shrapnel that flew off during cutting.  There was a lot of claylike putty in the interior of the safe.  This made quite the mess on the garage floor and on the saw itself.  After sawing all the way around the safe, I used a crowbar to pry open the part I had cut off (mostly the front door and 2-3 inches of frame).  Everything in the safe was fine.
      That was one of the most satisfying things I have ever done.  
      Good luck all and be "Safe"

      Sounds like “Tim Allens” solution!

    12. 112
      Meg M Says:

      My husband and I have just spent some time fooling with a "stuck safe" from the office of a non-profit organization we support.  We eventually got it open; he then took the back off the door to see what mechanisms were inside. 
      His descriptions and photos can be seen in this document: http://menkescientific.com/InsidetheSentryFiresafe.pdf
      His advice is: the first time your safe causes problems, get it open (however you can — new batteries, rubber mallet, whatever).  Don't wait – take the back off the door and fix what needs to be fixed in the mechanical set-up.  As in all products, there are compromises between price and quality.  But a mechanically-minded person can fix the hardware inside the Sentry safe.

    13. 113
      Anon Says:

      Thanks for the site. The rubber mallet trick worked to get my stuck safe open. I would not recommend this type of sentry safe to anyone.

    14. 114
      Anon Says:

      Thanks for this site. I had to resort to using the rubber mallet to get my stuck sentry safe open after changing the batteries failed to work. Tapping all around the face of the safe with the mallet worked for me. I am afraid to use it again though and will never recommend this type of sentry safe to anyone.

    15. 115
      Tom Says:

      Wow this is great stuff. I wish I had seen it a week ago.  About a month ago, it took me about 25 times entering the combination to get the safe to open. Since then I left it open.   after looking for some time I could find nothing on how to fix this problem.  I bought a new safe (different brand) and it arrived yesterday. Once I got it out of the box and entered the new code, I closed the new safe and it wouldn't lock!
      So this time I decided to open it up.  It had a different mechanism than the Sentry Safes, but I was able to fix it.  This gave me the courage to pry open the Sentry Safe.  In my case the solenoid plunger was stuck.  I added some oil to it and that seems to have done the trick.
      I am a bit reluctant to use it for anything critical now.  But now that I have two safes I am just as concerned with the quality of the other one.  I think I will make do one one or both of these, but I am curious if anyone has had better luck with a different brand?
      Best of luck if you run into one of these problems.  If your safe starts to exhibit and issue, address it right away — it will likely only get worse, then you have to resort to the saw.

    16. 116
      Mark Says:


        I own a Sentry ''Safe'' model KSW3550 , about 4-5 years old  , it wouldn't open for the last week , so today I desperately put ''sentry safe prblems '' on google – and … TADAAAA !

         I didn't needed a mallet ( well – I don't have a rubber one ''  , so just used my Grlfrnd  platform shoe . After putting the code i hit couple times around the electronic lock – worked like MAGIC  . Thanks again  !  I won't buy this brand crap ever again  and will spread the ''good'' news about it

    17. 117
      AP Says:

      Before finding this site today, I have beaten my Sentry with a rubber mallet AND used WD40 AND tried a screwdriver….Reading this site made me feel a bit better (our Sentry is somewhere around 15 years old and today is the first day it's stuck). The picture of the inside gears is helpful and I'm beginning to think that the plastic wheel is broken which means we may as well do major damage to the safe and buy a new one.  I have tried for hours to get the handle to go all the way "down" and move the bolts…sigh.
      Thanks Lighthouse for your story…I'm not going to even bother calling/emailing those guys then…And special thanks to Meg M and her dh for the pictures!  I like to know how things work…or don't work…ack!

    18. 118
      Annette Says:

      I too could not open my Sentry electronic safe; did not have a rubber mallet so I used a basketball and a thick rubber soled shoe – it worked! Now I'm throwing out the safe, I don't want to go experience that type of panic again.

    19. 119
      Alex Says:

      I had the same problem with my Sentry safe. The handle was spinning around and I could not open it. I called the company; they agreed to reimburse the cost of the locksmith and the cost of the safe. The locksmiths spent 3 minutes opening it, just using a screwdriver and a hummer. What a piece of junk! It is more complicated to open a can of tuna than this “security safe”.

    20. 120
      Brad Says:

      Now I know why my "new" safe was on the sidewalk with a not on it saying if you can open it its yours free. Me bing a spend thrift I carried the sucker home, bought the code via notified m ail. Well you know that saying if its looks too good to be true it usually is. After getting the sucker to open the first time now it wont.  I guess I need to try the rubber mallet, WD-40, Butter knife, grease, gin and tonic safe cracking system .

    21. 121
      Marc Says:

      I had the exact same thing happen to my safe! It is about three years old and I opened up the back to look at the mechanisms and there it is the little plastic piece as pictured is laying on the floor. What baffles me is this little plastic piece has sheared off and this is the mechanism to keep the door locked. Now the safe opens and closes fine but does not lock because this plastic piece is gone. Now I know if I ever start stealing safes just pry on the handle hard enough and this plastic locking mechanism will shear off and the safe is open! I guess there was a reason for it being a Costco special! At least now I know not to buy a Sentry Safe next time, Fisher Price can engineer better plastic!

    22. 122
      Rick Says:

      It's a real shame that Sentry has not addressed this issue.  I have NEVER seen so many posts for the SAME EXACT product issue.  With all your advice, I took a mallet to the darn thing, got it open, cleaned it out…and just finished walking it to the curb for garbage pickup. Shame that it will now sit in a landfill.  Sentry should be ashamed of itself.  Will never buy another product from them again.  And will share this story with as many people as possible.

    23. 123
      Melodie Says:

      Thanks for this post. I had the exact same problem and followed the steps up to the 3 in1 oil. I now have it propped open, unsure wether to close it and give it an other chance or not.
      What a waste of money, I thought this purchase was going to be a smart investment. I seriously regret buying the sentry safe.

    24. 124
      Mike Says:

      I did not have a rubber mallet.  So, I kicked it.  It finally opened.

    25. 125
      Mike Says:

      I just bought an OA5865 from OfficeMax on 12/28/2010 and guess what: SAME ISSUE WITH NOT OPENING AFTER JUST 3 DAYS!!!  Got my mallet out and finally got the thing open.  Guess what's going back to the store for a refund tomorrow?

    26. 126
      Tim Says:

      Sentry safes have to be the biggest POS in the world.  I couldn't get mine to open either.  I spent half the day doing Sentry's troubleshooting with the rubber mallet etc.  Still nothing so decided to grab the crowbar.  After at most 2 minutes with the crowbar had it open and enroute to the trash…  It's nice to know how safe my stuff was from criminals.  Never buying a Sentry again…

    27. 127
      Andy Says:

      Wow, thanks.  I have been cussing at this safe for some time, contemplating what to do with it (did not absolutely need to get into it) decided to search online, found these comments, went and got a hammer, hit it once, nothing, hit it twice and it opened right up.

    28. 128
      Mike Says:

      Piece of junk… was not opening.. hammering up and down on handle followed by big blow downwards worked…. never again sentry safe.

    29. 129
      Dennis Says:

      I had the same problem that you described. Your method worker! Thanks very much for posting! I also changed from Duracell to Ray O Vac batteries. That seemed to help, although the Dura cells were new.
      Thanks again

    30. 130
      Debbie Says:

      Wow!! That's all I can say on so many levels.  Thank you so much!!   Thanks to this site it literally took four whacks with the mallet and about 10 seconds to open this wonderful piece of crap.  Yes, there was the broken piece of plastic also. My husband thought I was nuts when I told him what everyone had been saying on here but he's a believer now!       I guess I'll be making a trip to the bank Monday to get a deposit box. Definitely not buying another safe! Thanks again.

    31. 131
      Roger Says:

      Same experience with me.  3 times of 20 min intervals on the phone with Sentry.  a trip to the store for new batteries.  Multiple poundings with a mallet……..but still didn't open!!!
      So after lugging the 200+lb safe into the house, I now had to get the beast outside.  After 10 minutes with crowbar and sledge to seat the crowbar, the door was open.
      what a shame that Sentry doesn't put in a better actuator.  that one item causes the $400 safe to be useless on top of causing the customer a lot of time and heavy lifting!!!

    32. 132
      Marc Says:

      I had the same problem with the solenoid breaking and commented about this in November I called Sentry customer support since and they sent me a new solenoid free of charge even though the safe was past its warranty period. The safe works again, at  least they were willing to fix the problem.

    33. 133
      Drew Says:

      Thanks for the advice! A few downward whacks with a hammer on the handle and it popped right open!

    34. 134
      Charles Says:

      A class action suit would serve them right!

    35. 135
      Mau Says:

      I have the same problem you guys have. it wont open. WHAT A POS THIS SAFE IS.
      Im not buying Sentry safes ever again….
      They customer service wasnt helpful at all to me. Kept saying i needed new batteries. But i had new batteries…..
      WHAT A POS!!@!@

    36. 136
      Allison Says:

      Hey, thanks for the tip. I finally got the worthless, usefull as a box of rocks safe to open. THANK YOU SOOOOOO MUCH.

    37. 137
      David Says:

      Thanks so much for posting this. I really needed to get into my Sentry safe yesterday and had the idea of looking on the Internet to see if there was a fix! My safe looks exactly like the model shown in the photo, bought it in 2007. I had tried changing the batteries to no avail. After reading this, I punched in the code and kicked the crap out of the safe. It opened! What a piece of junk. Now I have a 200 lb., $450 paperweight. It is very, very obvious that Sentry is selling these things despite being aware, for a long time, of this issue and doing absolutely nothing to correct it. I’ll never buy anything from Sentry again.

    38. 138
      Joe S Says:

      I was just going nuts after this stupid safe wold not open.
      It’s Saturday so Sentry was closed. I looked at their
      website for troubleshooting tips and it was useless. I
      found another safe manufacturer site with a great FAQ on
      problems but none solved mine. Thank heavens I searched
      a little longer and stumbled on this site. You saved the
      day. I did not have a rubber mallet but got an hammer and
      a piece of wood and banged the top but it did not open.
      Then I banged on the door and wallah, it opened. Since I
      bought this safe, I always has problems opening it. From
      all the comments, this is a widespread problem with Sentry
      I would never buy another SentrySafe and this one is
      heading to the garbage dump where Sentry Safes belong.
      Thanks for your help!

    39. 139
      Víctor Says:

      I had the same problem that most of you, every time I dial the code it just didn´t work.
      So I tried harder and again and again until the handle went all the way around, I called the costumer service number and the lady told me “there´s nothing we can do”. you need to pay someone to open the safe for you, take off the piece and replace it, the fact is I´m in central america and there´s no body dealing those parts!, the place where I bought it just sales the safe but not their parts!!!!

      So I just open it by using a hammer and a chasil, took me 20 min. to do that and I save $100 which is the fee charced me for open it…

    40. 140
      GG Says:

      Holy Sh-t! It worked! Couldn’t open this safe for months. Was wondering how I was ever going to get to passports and birth certificates. Thank heavens for all of you. 10-15 wacks with a thick roll of duct tape later, the f’n thing is open. Thank you!

    41. 141
      lisa Says:

      Thanks for the help opening my piece of crap safe….and giving me a good laugh!

    42. 142
      Eesl Says:

      I had the same problem after about three years. Banging on the safe worked but now it won’t close.

    43. 143
      herrmann T Says:

      Tapping the door with a hammer worked for me.

    44. 144
      Kevin Says:

      Excellent suggestion. I turned the key, entered my combo, and gave it one good whack on the top of the safe. Opened right up! Thanks so much.

    45. 145
      michael Says:

      thanks the rubber mallet worked wat a safe

    46. 146
      Matt Bruner Says:

      Unbelievable! I have had this same problem. I thought it was batteries. Intermittently I can get it to open every once in a while. Usually code entered and says unlocked but no motorized sound for the solenoid. What a piece of junk. What safe do you guys recommend now?

    47. 147
      Janet Says:

      Had the same problems as listed here. Instead of a mallet,
      I used the heel of my of husband’s cowboy boots. Worked fine.
      But I’m thinking, this is crazy. Refuse to close the door
      now and considering a safe deposit box, which is what we
      had before.

    48. 148
      Bill Says:

      Boy did I get lucky finding this site. It sure is amazing what a HAMMER can do to help open a safe. I also have the Sentry Safe with the same problem. It surely works a while back I had smacked the door of the safe with my hand and got the same results but did not put 2 and 2 together. Thanks for the help.

    49. 149
      Mark Says:

      Have similar problems with my Sentry POS safe. Never again will buy any of thier products. Thanks for the post.

    50. 150
      Andy Says:

      INCREDIBLE!!! I’m living overseas and now returning to the states. I have not been able to open the safe in over a year. I thought I’d return to the states and get a tech. Well, I needed the kids’ birth certificates to register them in school and needed in the safe. I found this site and now the safe is open. I didn’t have a rubber mallet, but a regular hammer against a piece of wood on the handle worked just fine. Thanks!

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