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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. 201
      Alex Says:

      Thank you! I had a plastic mallet (not rubber), but I tried banging it a few times, then tried the combo, and voila. I think I actually banged it just when the mechanism should have released (after entering the code) to get it to work. I didn’t go further than that in fixing it. This thing has lost my trust 100% as has Sentry. Mine was about 4-5 years old. Next time I’ll spend the money on a real safe, and stick to manual physical controls, and not some electronic control. Also to note, the rather light weight pastic hammer actually dented the door. Is the metal THAT thin? It sounded like the motor that is used to release was dying. So, no more motors or electronics for me. Thanks again. I was really needing access to my documents.

    2. 202
      Mike Says:

      Thank you for the help. I had the same problem you described. I read your solutiona, and after I stopped laughing, I got a rubber mallet and tried. To my amazement, the safe opened right away.

    3. 203
      brian Says:

      I read this and got my hopes up but still thinking,
      “it’ll never work”…but it did. The locksmith guy is
      right. You pay for what you get. I want my stuff
      firesafe and safe. I’m afraid now to close the damn thing.

    4. 204
      brian Says:

      Last time I couldn’t get this Sentry Fire Safe
      with electronic keyboard, and key lock, AND a finger
      print reader, I got on the internet just like I did today.
      Anyway, last time I found where you have to make sure the
      handle is in the “up” position or rather in a not sagging
      position. That worked fine for the last year or two, but then
      it wouldn’t open at all again. I just simpley hit it with
      my fist and then entered the combination and it “CLICKED”
      and then opened with the handle…THIS FRICKEN WORKED!!!

    5. 205
      Brian Says:

      Had the same problem. It took more than a couple of whacks, but it opened eventually. I’d say about 10-12 hits with the rubber mallet to a couple of locations on the door

    6. 206
      Brian Says:

      It took about 10-12 hits w/ rubber mallet for me, but this worked.

    7. 207
      Joe Says:

      I also used a hammer it did not work but as soon as I turned the safe upside down it opened.


    8. 208
      Gary Says:

      Stay clear of this product.
      Had to saw and crowbar it apart after trying everything
      to get it open. Don’t know how any company could sell such

    9. 209
      Merrill C Says:

      Great post…tried that 9-volt Battery trick and it worked like a charm….Safe opened and its a good thing because the Sabre saw was the next tool I was going to use to open this sucker. Did it with an earlier Sentry Safe and was ready to do it again.

    10. 210
      Roger Says:

      I have a DA3831 with an electronic keypad. The batteries are new but the keypad won’t lock the safe. That means the tubular key is the only way to lock and unlock the safe. Talked to SentrySafe and they want me to buy a $50 solenoid and do the repair myself. Based on all the other comments and your fine review I will leave the electronic keypad in place and write the combination on the front of the safe so potential robber(s) will not have to try to crack any codes. Of course, I will neglect to tell them it is a SentrySafe so the combo won’t work. I only hope they don’t come with a rubber mallet and WD 40. Then my valuables will be unprotected.

    11. 211
      Catherine Says:

      Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! The rubber mallet did the job. I have to admit that I was hesitant about clobbering my safe, but after reading all the posts, I decided to give it a try. It took a few times – probably because I wasn’t hitting it hard enough. But I gave it a few hard whacks around the lock area and two lighter whacks on the actual handle, and when I input my combination, it opened right up! The next safe I buy will definitely NOT be a Sentry.
      Thanks again!

    12. 212
      Tammy Says:

      Unbelievable! I used an hammer and a folded towel to get my Mom’s safe open. She had attempted to unlock the safe for one month. I am still shaking my head in amazement that this really worked.

    13. 213
      Christina Says:

      Thanks. The hammer trick worked…I’m moving my stuff into the gun safe today!! What a piece of junk!

    14. 214
      Kimberly Says:

      Thank you so much….just opened it with a rubber mallet…what a piece of crap it turned out to be

    15. 215
      Danna Says:

      I have a Sentry safe and have for three days off and on been on the phone with customer service trying to get it to open. I have beat it, greased, turned it upside down and used the keys to no avail. I think it sucks to pay that much money for a piece of crap.

    16. 216
      Doris Says:

      The rotary combination lock on my Sentry Safe has worked very well every time since 1992.
      I bought a second safe for the accumulating years of 1040 tax returns, this time I thought
      I’d buy the key lock. BIG mistake. I have to fiddle with the key back and forth over and over
      still not able to figure out what the “magic” touch is to open. Yes, I finally got it open,
      however, 30 minutes later when I needed to open it again, same problem. I don’t use this second safe very often, and I’ve given up today trying to open it, as my frustration level has met its maximimum level. If I ever need another safe, I’ll stick with the rotary dial combination lock. And yes, I will probably check out the products offered by a locksmith for reliable use.

    17. 217
      Jerry Says:

      I had this exact problem (stuck solenoid). I found the
      rubber mallet solution (which worked), and then contacted
      their support to complain why they didn’t tell people
      about this solution to a seemingly extremely common issue.
      A guy called me back and told me the lubricant solution
      will ruin the solenoid (oil and electronics don’t mix), but
      he shipped me a *FREE* solenoid with instructions, so
      now everything works fine. I suggest if you have a similar
      problem to bypass the level 1 support person who is just
      reading from a script and can’t really help you and get to
      someone who can.

      That said, if they insist on charging you for the solenoid,
      just remove it (behind the cover as mentioned in the post)
      and use the key lock (or don’t lock it). As many have said,
      this isn’t an anti-theft safe but a fire safe, so a key
      is just as good as the combo.

      COMMENT: Not one person who has bought this safe should have to go thru the run-a-round in order to get to a qualified technician at Sentry. That is Sentry’s responsibility, it just speaks further to their lack of quality control. As to the calling it a fire safe, why have a key or combo for a fire safe then? Why was that incorporated? Seems like some are just trying to run around the issues.

    18. 218
      Kim Says:

      Thank you … thank you … THANK YOU! 40 minutes of punching in the code and then found your site. Banged for ten minutes and boom! It’s open and will never close again. Hummm…. Class Action maybe… $250 down the drain… it’s never closing again!

    19. 219
      Kathy Says:

      Thanks so much! I used a 2 lb rubber coated weight and I got my safe open. I had tried about 25 times throughout the day. I googled the Q & A for the manufacturer website, and a message appeared that I could get an answer to my question for $30. Really?

    20. 220
      Jan Says:

      Thank you so much for the “open sesame” secret. We used a mallet on the area right below the handle, put in our code, and the door finally opened. This safe has caused so much frustration in the 5 years we’ve had it! Sentry should be sued because they make you go through all these steps every time you call customer service and nothing works. They know the safe is a lemon. Thanks again for sharing your technique.

    21. 221
      Patrick Says:

      Thanks for your Post!!!

      I had the same problem, your Post
      with a rubber mallet helped me a lot. Thank you!

    22. 222
      Michael Says:

      Of course I had the same problem. I tried the mallet
      and it worked! I can’t believe it. I wouldn’t waste
      my time posting this if it didn’t. I had to hit it on
      the middle top edge of the door and it opened. I
      tried hitting it in several other spots to no avail …
      then I re-read the post about where to hit it and it
      worked. Unreal!

    23. 223
      Andy Says:

      Ran into this problem this morning and luckily it
      happened immediately after I got our passports out for
      our honeymoon. Eventually got it to open using the
      shoe-hammer technique. Took about ten minutes and forty
      or so whacks. Sentry is sending a new solenoid so we will
      see how it works in the future. Of note, during my call
      with Sentry, the little battery indicator is not how much
      battery you have left but it just means you that you need
      to replace the battery. I though the fact it showed two
      bars meant they still had plenty of life (not so much).
      I still don’t think the battery had anything to do with
      it. Sentry said it will be as good as new once the
      solenoid is replaced.

    24. 224
      Gregg Says:

      Well, well well…Are you kidding me. Same sad story. Needed entry into safe, replaced batteries etc… no luck. Google search, found you folks. Hit safe with hammer 5-8 times and poof door opens and my millions of diamonds fall to the floor. True story, well except for the diamonds part. Anyway, this is outrageous – but honestly a bit therapeutic. After a few hits with the rubber mallet I am a bit less furious at Sentury Safe. Take care everyone

    25. 225
      Roy Says:

      Thanks so much for the hammer trick. I had the same issue and after getting it open can see where the white actuator arm is sticking. I’ll call Sentry in the coming week to figure out whether to lubricate or replace the actuator before locking it shut again. Thanks again, you saved the day.

    26. 226
      margret Says:

      wow one wack and it opened ….THANK YOU

    27. 227
      Greg Says:

      I tried the mallet trick after reading this post. I have a Sentry OA5848 safe. The handle popped out after hitting the safe with the rubber mallet several times. Now I can’t reposition the safe so the door handle will go back into place. Now what?

      RESPONSE:This was never intended to be a repair article, make your own choices what to do with the thing.

    28. 228
      Alyssa Says:

      It worked!! Thank you! I had to hit the upper middle part of the door about 12 times, I punched in the code and it popped open. This safe is a piece of junk.

    29. 229
      marcel Says:

      that worked for me too. what a piece of garbage.do not recommend this safe as i alone know 3 people with a Sentry safe that can no longer open them.

    30. 230
      ray Says:

      Very frustrating with the spinning handle thing. Thanks for the mallet suggestion. Got this POS open finally.

    31. 231
      J.C. Denton Says:

      Found this via Google. Beat the door with a hammer as you described, and it opens! Thanks.

    32. 232
      Bill Says:

      The rubber mallet trick worked!! Thanks all for the helpful hint.

    33. 233
      Lyn Says:

      THANK YOU!!! This worked!! Relief!

    34. 234
      kyle Says:

      Customersevice was closed – saw this article! Mallet trick worked!! Better choice than a crow bar!!! Thanks!

    35. 235
      gerri Says:

      I also had a nitemare with my safe. the mallad method worked for me….It took me many many tries before the handle released…everything inside was a mildewed and falling apart….so much for keeping your papers being safe. Let me say i had 4 moisture bags in the safe…they wern’t enough. Nothing was. I’m going back to a safety deposit box in the bank.I had the A3750 model. What a waste of money.Did i mention the safe is destroyed. Thanks for letting me vent.

    36. 236
      Tom Says:

      The mallet trick worked, but now I am leery about closing it again. I may just go buy a gun safe instead.

    37. 237
      Michele Says:

      I tried the rubber mallot – banged the entire front of the safe. That knocked out the batteries, so I unscrewed the battery compartment and popped them back in. The safe then opened after I punched in the combo. So the mallot works… thank you!!

    38. 238
      jackie Says:

      The mallet worked! Thanks!

    39. 239
      Dimitrios Says:

      Thank you for resolving hours of frustration with this.
      Plenty of lubricant on the solenoid that is inside the plastic cover has fixed the problem.

    40. 240
      Jenell Says:

      I had the same problem where my safe wouldn’t open, so I beat it with a mallet about 20 times (at the top of the door as suggested) and it opened right up! Thank you!

    41. 241
      Juanita Says:

      Found this blog when I googled “I can’t open my Sentry Safe”. Thank you for posting this info. Since I didn’t have a mallet I used my foot, that worked too. What a waste of money.

    42. 242
      Tim Says:

      09/21/2013 I just used the rubber mallet
      and it opened. What a relief.

    43. 243
      Sara Says:

      After a move, had to access car titles from our Sentry and was swearing up a storm – what the…it USED to open. Finally googled, and then giggled after reading your post. A few whacks and it opened. Then we just started busting up laughing. Thanks so much for your solution!

    44. 244
      carol jenkins Says:

      I am so grateful to read this article… Has been several weeks I have been trying to get into this dam safe.. All it took was a rubber hammer… No more safes for me.. will use the bank safety deposit box at the bank….

    45. 245
      TM Says:

      Mallet works!! My husband has been calling himself a safe cracker since the first swing was to the front plastic cover and it now has a big crack. So glad I found your post.

    46. 246
      Ryan Says:

      Ditto. Sentry should be ashamed to sell these safes. Could easily cost lives when someone can’t get to their gun during a break in.

    47. 247
      Jay Says:

      Came across this when my Sentry Safe wouldn’t open after too many tries to count. I changed. the batteries as they suggested(new 10 year ones – they insisted). Nothing. So I see the rubber mallet trick. Don’t have one but I wrapped my regular home with a thick sock Two bangs- put in combo and voila click and it opened. No what?? Close it and maybe go through this again. What a lousy product. Any suggestions??

    48. 248
      Jay Says:

      Any class action lawsuits started or discussed here or elsewhere ??

    49. 249
      Ronnie Says:

      I am so glad I found this article. We just went to open our fantastic SentrySafe and the wrotten thing wouldn’t open, well every thing is safe I suppose, even from us. Husband used his fist, as no rubber mallet handy and low and behold it worked. Thank you so much for your information. Will have to search make an emergency kit – rubber mallet, wd-40 and a screw driver, so handy :-).

      In Australia, and we can’t even get a phone contact for SentrySafe, just sent them an email, let’s see how long it takes them to reply.


    50. 250
      Vinay Says:

      Oh yes. Mallet worked for me too. Got yelled at by wife for using her sweater to wrap the hammer in, but got the safe to open.

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