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    « | Love Advice | »

    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. 251
      Bob Says:

      Thanks for the post. The rubber mallet worked, although the safe now has a few dents that reflect my frustration. I have not been happy with this safe. Sure, it’s fireproof, but the thing is so moist inside that everything you put in it will mildew or rust. I’ll take my chances with the fire.

    2. 252
      Kirk Says:

      Well written, very much like my interactions except my handle broke off and I was left with only the square bolt and a pair of vice grips to continue opening the safe. I’m not sure if I figured it out or a technician mentioned it but I use my fists to pound on the top of the safe to rattle the actuator loose (ironically, in the IT world we call this “percussive maintenance”). Very poorly made although I do like the larger model I now own, it has a mechanical key backup to the digital keypad and overall feels like it’s built a bit more sturdily.

    3. 253
      Bob Says:

      Rubber mallet saved the day. THANK YOU!!

    4. 254
      sam Says:

      Omg, I was rolling with laughter from your story!!! The Sentry safe such a bastion of safety for your stuff – never going to believe what i just found with mine. along with not being able to get the door open at times – just found the whole inside front frame, where the door meets the body, the frame of body is completely filling with RUST! You can’t actually see it yet because most of the black paint is still covering it. I had no idea this was going on until I opened the safe this week and was met with an awful smell of something going on in there. I knew I hadn’t stored anything damp in there so I started investigating. This safe has never seen a drop of water to initiate such a huge rusting process underneath the paint, and has been kept inside my house from day 1. Tomorrow I’m going to call Sentry to find out what magnanimous offer they will make me to replace this safe. I’m looking for a completely FREE replacement as is warranted and justified (although not still under warranty). If they try to offer me 10% they can keep their crap and I’ll even mail this one back to them so they can keep it as a giant $300 paper weight as they think I’m going to do. Should be an interesting phone call. Thanks for your post and your humor in the matter!

    5. 255
      Sunnie Says:

      Thank you so much for this post. My safe wouldn’t open and after changing batteries I was freaking out. Banged it with the fist a few times on top and it finally opened! Can’t believe these expensive safes are so POORLY built.

    6. 256
      debby Says:

      Tried the mallet thing but no luck. Read on thru to the post that mentioned that the battery indicator only shows when the battery needs to be replaced so grabbed a 9v a voila it opened easily as ever. Will keep the mallet in mind for future reference. Thank you for posting and for taking your time on hold with the service reps!

    7. 257
      unhappy Says:

      mallet FTW lol

    8. 258
      Troy Says:

      This post saved us a $500 lock smith fee. Needed passport for emergency trip and safe wouldn’t open. Of course, on a weekend when no one from Sentry was available. Luckily, found this post. Used my fist to pound the top (I had enough frustration built up I didn’t need a hammer). Then it popped right open. This defect is unacceptable.

    9. 259
      kitty Says:

      HA! Got my safe to open. I did not have a rubber mallot, but I did use my foot and kicked it several times with the my heel while sitting in front of it. I had been trying to open it for 30 minutes!!!! Voila!!!Opened with my next attempt. Thanks.

    10. 260
      Nancy and Don Says:

      Oh my word! The hammer worked just fine! Thanks, saved us on the locksmith bill!

    11. 261
      Diane Says:

      Thanks so much…..I woke up to my husband trying to open the Century safe. Same thing…code didn’t work/key didn’t work and my husband definitely doesn’t have the patience part to call and wait for someone to tell him something he already knows of course so we put in new batteries….and waited 1 min…then read your article and banged it on the front to wake it up and VOILA the code finally worked…..A pretty safe safe especially when YOU can’t even get into it!

    12. 262
      Vernon Melton Says:

      I had to use a 9-volt battery and it didn’t open. Then I used a hammer and it still didn’t open. Then I had to use a hammer and a chisel to cut a hole in the front to open it. Do Not Buy a Sentry Safe! Buy a combination safe if you can find it.

    13. 263
      Richard Says:

      Thank you so much!!!! I purchased this safe at Costco several years ago and have not been able to get into it for years!

      After many hours over the years on support calls with the manufacturer, like most people, I was not able to open the safe. They were of no help.

      I stumbled across your blog and the whack with the mallet worked.

      Since Costco still deals with Sentry, I’m trying to get them to take the safe back, it’s useless to me now and has been since it failed about 2 years after I purchased it.

    14. 264
      George bahr Says:

      Sentry safe e .waiting to make police report.door fell off while opening.lots of valuable gone now what

    15. 265
      Todd Murray Says:

      Lol hitting it worked like a charm. Off to get a new, different brand, safe.

    16. 266
      Chris Says:

      This must be affecting 10’s of thousands of owners, and as such there should be legal action taken
      against Sentry Safe. If this was a vehicle the Feds. would be prosecuting. What is someone is raped or maimed or killed because they could not gain access to their weapon secured in this piece. If there is an attorney out there I hope someone will make Sentry address this.

    17. 267
      Gina Says:

      I just tried the rubber mallet. It worked for me also! That is crazy but I am glad it worked.

      Thanks for posting this.

    18. 268
      betty Says:


      I am so happy I found this! I had put all my narcotics in my safe because workmen were coming over. Imagine how distraut I was to find I could not open it to get my pain meds out! I so appreciate your humorous posting that helped me get my meds out!


    19. 269
      keydiver Says:

      Worked for me! Every time we entered the code, the display would show the “unlocked” icon, but there was no telltale CLICK. I tried dragging the safe out of the closet, and flipping it on its back, thinking that perhaps something inside was putting too much pressure on the door or jamming it, but to no avail. Thanks to this website, a couple whacks of the rubber mallet on the upper middle of the door (then resetting the batteries in their holder which became dislodged from the whacking), I re-entered the code and heard the familiar “CLICK”!
      I pulled off the plastic rear panel and lubed the solenoid, so we’ll see how long that lasts. I also noticed that its rather important that the handle be in the full UP position, so the mechanism doesn’t rest upon the solenoid while attempting to enter the code. I can’t imagine how many hundreds of people your website has helped in the past 5 years.

    20. 270
      Laura Says:

      I’ve been repeatedly hitting this darn thing with a rubber mallet for the last hour…nothing. We are leaving on vacation soon and need our passports. I am now starting to panic! What a piece of crap! How can they continue to sell something that has so many complains. I see some people on here used cut part of the safe to gain entry. Can anyone tell me what part of the safe to take the saw to? I’m thinking that may be my only option to get in here!

    21. 271
      johnny Says:

      same here. mine wouldn’t open and i got the low battery sign to boot. so it was either i was going to open it or the battery would die before i could after entering in the code multiple times.

      took a rubber mallet to it. softly at first and then harder and harder. wd40 the handle. wacked it a few more times. and finally after a bunch of jiggling the handle, it finally popped open.

      i locked it again w/o closing it and tried to open it again and yup…it’s stuck again. pos. class action lawsuit..please include me in it. wtf.

    22. 272
      Tim from CMH Says:

      Another satisfied customer…. of this posting, not of Sentry Safe. I had the exact problem described and the rubber mallet solved the issue. Turning it on its side wasn’t really an option for me seeing as how its bolted to the floor… from the inside. Thanks for the helpful post.

    23. 273
      Werner Heil Says:

      That was the best advise I had fo a long time . My safe would not open like it was in your article. The mallet works wonders . Fantastic .It was very funnyThanks and thanks again.

    24. 274
      Jeff Says:

      Bang! Bang!

      My story is very similar to yours. How insulting to ask if the batteries were fresh.

      I am gonna find a good, old-fashioned tumbler lock safe.

    25. 275
      Rodg Says:

      Make my response 275! Same story as most. Call from Sentry not available, emailed them. Started to look for locksmith. This one page on the web saved me hours of wasted time and mucho bucks! Still gotta find another NON-SENTRY safe for my goodies now. Thanks again to all on this thread!

    26. 276
      Trixie Says:

      After 3 days of trying.
      I have dented the daylights out of it whacking it EVERYWHERE!
      I only had a hammer (and towel) and a coated hand weight.
      I finally borrowed a mallet – but that wasn’t working.
      Then, I disconnected the 4 Double A batteries and connected the 9 v
      I noticed a different click, so I banged it harder with the mallet,
      UNDER the combination part and it opened.
      I cannot believe how I was celebrating!
      I was so scared because I had a loaded firearm in there!
      I don’t want to close it now!
      Feel so ripped off! This was one of their top of the line products
      I remember paying at least $500 for it – Grrrrrrrr.
      Thanks so much for this website!

    27. 277
      Randy Holland Says:

      Thank you so much! The mallet worked!

    28. 278
      Leroy Says:

      Mallet worked for me. Noticed that the switch on the
      hinge side of the door was sticking. Lubed it with WD40
      and seems to be working.

      Other posts have mentioned moisture inside the safe. I
      have not had that problem, however I live in Arizona.

    29. 279
      Jan Says:

      I just whacked it with my fist and it worked….this is a serious problem. I’ll definitely be contacting Sentry.

    30. 280
      Lucia Says:

      Thanks for the post, wish I found it earlier. My safe won’t open, even with new a brand battery, but Sentry customer support was stuck on telling me that I needed batteries expiring after 2020, I had to search the whole area and after a week I finally found them; of course it won’t still open. Finally I called Sentry again (had to wait one day because customer service closes at 6:00 pm :-() and they told me about the hammer trick. To Sentry: don’t treat customers as stupids, if I tell you the battery is new and the safe stopped working all of a sudden, why don’t you tell me about this trick immediately? Luckily I didn’t have to take something from it in a hurry…

    31. 281
      Charity Says:

      You are a lifesaver! Mallet trick worked, thank you for sharing!

    32. 282
      Dan Davis Says:

      Best post EVER! Same thing happened to us. Trying mallet tomorrow! Thanks!

    33. 283
      Danny Gossett Says:

      No luck for me. The numbers beep when i hit them, but it goes to beeping 5 times while the red light blinks. No kicking, hammering, or cussing will open this thing. going out of the country and need my passport. I will never buy this crap again.

    34. 284
      Brad Chilton Says:

      didnt have rubber mallet but I pounded with open palm of my hand … I must say it worked and I’m so relieved… Thnx to all on this site for the info …Panic attack averted !!

    35. 285
      Gregory Freeman Says:

      It worked for me, too. My Sentry safe has been opening only about every 20th time I entered the correct code, making me feel like I was playing a slot machine in Vegas and just waiting for my big win.
      I hit the damn thing with a mallet in the upper left corner of the door and it opened the very next time. Sprayed some WD-40 on the bolts, closed it and tried the code. No good. Hit it with the mallet and it again and it opened the next time.
      So now it’s opening only if I hit it with the mallet first. But at least I know how to get into it.
      Sentry will probably start selling a special Safe Whacking Mallet as an accessory soon.

    36. 286
      Robert Says:

      Who needs a rubber mallet…..I simply used the sole of my Reebok running shoes! I feel like an accomplished safecracker now!

    37. 287
      John Says:

      Thanks for the article. I will have to agree with most here that the safe is a great paper weight, no exactly a good or even an ok safe. After hitting the top door with large rubber mallet, it was all i had, it opened with no problem. I haven’t tried to WD40 and pry off the plastic yet to see what I’m gonna find back there, I’m scared to see it and realize nothing was really protected. And yes I realize I’m not hoarding bars of gold in there by any means, but the these are items I dont want to lose in case of a break in or a fire. I just wanted to say thanks and saved me a major headache with just a quick internet search and find this. I leave with a question though, does anyone have any recommendations for a replacement safe. We’ve had this one for quite a long time and after many years of just hitting the keypad hundreds of times and hoping it would open I think I’m ready for a replacement. Any help appreciated, and thanks again!!

    38. 288
      jean claude gaudreault Says:

      Very well written ! Bravo ! That company deserves very much all those bad comments ! My safe does not open anymore because of the circuit board ( not a battery problem ) — I called SENTRY : they cannot help. My passport is in the safe, i need it this weekend. What will i do ? — will i have to pay a locksmith because SENTRY builds bad products !

    39. 289
      Craig Says:

      Rubber mallet worked for me.

    40. 290
      Strawman Says:

      All the time I wasted … looking for my owner’s manual for the master code. Would not have helped anyway as my ‘Personal Code’ shows Green … working … just wouldn’t open.

      Acting like a Clown pushing on the door while entering code, STANDING on the left side of the door while entering the correct code …..

      Among about a Dozen other Idiotic attempts to open the Frigggging Safe Door!

      ALAS ….. FORUMS!!! to the Rescue … Again!

      If it weren’t for ‘Normal, Regular’ people that post helpful things, tips & tricks, Workarounds, How To’s, DIYs, …. I think this country’s wheel would grind to a halt.

      Took me just a few minutes to locate a two sided rubber mallet (two different hardnesses) from one of my Lord only knows how many Toolboxes …..

      Two ‘Raps’ on the door … VOILA!!! 🙂

      Thanks, ALL!!!

    41. 291
      Jeremy Says:

      I have been a locksmith for 15 years and I can tell you that it isn’t only Sentry safes that have this issue. It is true the plastic parts are shocking and no other company I know of include plastic pieces, but the solenoid issue is very common in electronic safe dials. It took me a few years of drilling them open to figure out a swift strike from a mallet would jolt the mechanism enough to work at least once more. I would advise anyone to use only brand name batteries in your electronic safes, as this is the cause for a lot of the failures. Most of these companies are pleasantly surprised when the dials last two years. In contrast I have seen a manual dial fail one time in 15 years. Digital is convenient, but if it is only to store something you need once a year at tax time i would say put up with the hassle and get one with a manual dial.

    42. 292
      robert Says:

      needed to get title out to complete sale of vehicle and
      safe wouldnt open, while on Hold forever with Sentry, found this
      sight, had phone on speaker, grabbed my mallet and one hit and
      safe opened, THANK YOU for the tip. Piece of junk safe, I see on
      here that I was not only one having mildew smell inside of
      supposedly sealed safe. this thing going to the recycle yard.

    43. 293
      Bob Gravell Says:

      Thank you!!!! I knew it was a malfunctioning solenoid and tried a few gentle taps, but no luck. As several folks said you have to beat the crap out of the front door to free it up. Thank God that worked! You can bet I’m not using this safe again and will NEVER buy another Sentry Safe product.

    44. 294
      Kathy Vosburg Says:

      The rubber mallet trick worked for me on a Sentry A3860 that is
      easily 15 years old. This was the first time it would not open.
      Will also apply WD40 to internal mechanisms on inside of door.
      I also have MAJOR powdery mildew all over EVERYTHING, and I
      have Central HVAC, so no excuse there.

    45. 295
      Denny Cary Says:

      thanks for the info 3 taps on upper center of door and it opened

    46. 296
      Alison Says:

      Wow, you saved tears and many swear words! O.K. Maybe there were still a few of those. We used the 9 volt, no go. We used a hammer wrapped in sock 5 thumps to the top front, voila. Magic. I owe my spouse a big favor for this save. Thank you soooooo much!

    47. 297
      Laura Says:

      My parents gave me this safe. What as piece of…
      I have not been able to get into it for two years. Thankfully my passport is not in there!
      Last time I had it open mildew had ruined an antique watch.
      I will try a hammer when I get home.
      I HATE this safe.

    48. 298
      Jaymes Brandon Says:

      Thank you for this post. We used its applications, and were able to retrieve important
      documents, etc.
      I’, in the market for a better type of office safe now, and have temporarily put items in another location safe. NOT a Sentry safe.
      For the record, my Sentry Safe is Mod. 0A5889, and Ser.#
      is; BD742221, just in case any responsible personnel at the SS company actually read this. I’ve had this safe for about 6 years now, so I know the warranty is over.
      I’m strongly considering getting a small ‘fireproof’ safe that is sold for firearms, and convert the inside to a practical office-type safe….that should do the trick:-)
      Thank you ‘Lighthouse’, for your expertise and sharing the information!!! Blessings to you and yours, throughout the New Year of 2016:-)
      For those who have not yest discovered this, ‘Lighthouse’ pointed out a very important aspect about plastic (nylon) and metal in the use of safe combinations. They are ultimately doomed to fail, usually after the warranty, and that is ultimately how a company stays in ‘business’. It’s not a ‘remove and repair’ world anymore….but a ‘remove and replace’ one.
      Semper Fi!

    49. 299
      Wendy Says:

      Thank you for this information. I have wasted countless hours putting in my combination over and over again (the definition of insanity —- doing the same thing over and over again with the same result) One hit with a hammer and it opened. Shouldn’t there be a class action suit for this? People keep very valuable things in their safe and the consequences are quite serious if they can’t get at them.

    50. 300
      Steve Says:

      I didn’t have a rubber mallet, so I used a sand hammer (same effect) and after 3 minutes of hitting the door around the center… IT OPENED!!! Great information – no more Sentry digital safes! Class action suit, I agree!

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