1. #1
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    Default Magnetic locking doors

    There is a door where I work that is locked using large electro magnets. No deadbolt or traditional handle. All you have to do is have the system turn off the magnet via motion sensor or card key and the door will swing freely. (Though I believe it also releases when alarms are activated but I do not know for sure).

    My question is how would you go about forcing that door open? I would like to know since I may encounter one when on duty at the fire station. Thank you.

    A little information about the door in question. It is a double door that swings inward. The doors are glass pane but for this lets say that they are solid wood (it would be too easy to just break the glass to get in). There is about a 1/4 gap between the two doors in the middle. The two magnets are at the top of the door near the middle.

    If you would like to know more just ask.

    (Note: the door does not contribute to the occupancy load of the office.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by FireWA1 View Post
    There is a door where I work that is locked using large electro magnets. No deadbolt or traditional handle. All you have to do is have the system turn off the magnet via motion sensor or card key and the door will swing freely. (Though I believe it also releases when alarms are activated but I do not know for sure).

    My question is how would you go about forcing that door open? I would like to know since I may encounter one when on duty at the fire station. Thank you.

    A little information about the door in question. It is a double door that swings inward. The doors are glass pane but for this lets say that they are solid wood (it would be too easy to just break the glass to get in). There is about a 1/4 gap between the two doors in the middle. The two magnets are at the top of the door near the middle.

    If you would like to know more just ask.

    (Note: the door does not contribute to the occupancy load of the office.)
    You would probably have success with striking the door with either a maul (sledgehammer) or the back of a flat-head axe at the contact point of the magnet.

    If the door is made of wood, then you really shouldn't have difficulty as the magnet locks on wooden doors typically are not that strong and are usually used less for security purposes, and more for restricting access once inside of the building, or used to keep fire doors closed when the fire alarm trips.

    Simply try to drive the door off of the contact with the magnet.

    For steel doors, the principle is the same. You want to try to drive the door off of the magnetic lock.

    A good sharp strike at the point of contact is usually enough to do this. Striking the door at any other point will usually just result in the door "flexing" but remaining in contact with the magnet. So you want to strike it AT the point of contact.

    And for a door that is outward opening, you want to try to forcefully pry the door from the contact point of the magnet. This can be done by using the adz end of a halligan and getting a purchase on the door right near the magnet and then pulling the door away from it.

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    Default My Experience

    It has been my experience with these doors, the double swinging type, that if you push/pull on the door after 20-30 seconds they release. This was how the doors at my former employers worked.

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    For a door that swings away from you a hydra ram tool will work, and for a door that swings outward you can try to put the halligan tool through the pull handle and put the hydra ram against the building and basically use the hydra ram to pull the door open. It works! You can prevent the mag lock from re-locking by placing a nail over the magnet once you have the door open.

    If worse comes to worse there is usually a large carriage bolt sticking through the door at the point the magnet is attached, I have heard of people cutting the door around this point to get in.
    Last edited by erik3911; 05-15-2009 at 09:22 PM. Reason: oops
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    Smile Magnetic door locks

    We recently installed one on the rear door of the police department. The lock smith commented that the lock is capable of holding the door shut against hundreds of pounds of pressure.

    We obviously havent attempted to defeat it but we had a prisoner attempt to open it with a body slam. He was good sized but no luck.

    Lock smith commented that the door with bend out of shape before magnet releases!!

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    Most mag locks are around 500lb test. Cheaper ones are a little less. Overcoming the magnet can work if you do as Jakes Dad stated above.

    If you have just drywall above the door, bust the drywall, find the wire, and cut it. Its just 12 or 24 volt DC.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    We have similar doors at work (defense contractor). I haven't tried but I don't think you can shock the door away from the magnet. I think they hold too tight.. I could be wrong, though. JD, have you seen this work?

    Usually the contact with the door is at the top, furthest from the hinge. Cutting the door horizontally, just below the contact would work if you dont mind causing damage. Assuming wood/metal door. Glass/Poly, not sure.

    The locks should automatically disengage when the Alarm System trips as well as when someone wants out of the area. In our case there is a motion detector and contact plate that both have to be tripped for the door to open. On simpler doors a piece of paper through the top of the door will trip the MD and a push-bar "hanger" can work the contact plate on the inside push bar.

    I like the idea of cutting power to the magnet, either directly as NM said, or find the breaker. Another Option is to bypass the door and open up the wall right next to it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by voyager9 View Post
    We have similar doors at work (defense contractor). I haven't tried but I don't think you can shock the door away from the magnet. I think they hold too tight.. I could be wrong, though. JD, have you seen this work?
    .....
    Just for the record Ive seen it work numerous times.
    Proud East Coast Traditionalist.

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    Quote Originally Posted by voyager9 View Post
    We have similar doors at work (defense contractor). I haven't tried but I don't think you can shock the door away from the magnet. I think they hold too tight.. I could be wrong, though. JD, have you seen this work?

    Yes I have seen it work on numerous occasions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by voyager9 View Post
    I like the idea of cutting power to the magnet, either directly as NM said, or find the breaker. Another Option is to bypass the door and open up the wall right next to it.
    FYI, a lot of these systems have small battery backups in a panel nearby, so turning off a circuit breaker may not release the magnets.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jakesdad View Post
    Yes I have seen it work on numerous occasions.
    Ok.. good to know. I stand corrected.
    Does the same approach work for a Glass/Poly-door?
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    A halligan right at the magnetic will work with surprising little force. I have seen this work from either side of the door.
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    The system is sophisticated enough to have maglocks, you can bet money there will be backup batteries. Cutting power will almost never drop the magnets. The state and size of the batteries can vary but you'll be waiting hours for them to drain.

    The integration to a fire alarm system varies greatly. Not every maglock door will drop out on fire alarm. Only ones that are required to do so by code and that depends on the location of the door and the location of the alarm.

    Waving paper MIGHT trip that motion detector, which is actually called a "Request To Exit" sensor, or REX for short. Most are passive infrared and a waving piece of paper may not do it.

    If the door is power-operated, it probably has power dogs as well, which means it won't even have a conventional crash bar. It will be an "electronic touch crash bar". When the REX is tripped and the electronic bar is pushed (or a handicap button on the wall is pushed), the magnets will drop out, the latches will release, and the door will power-open. You're not going to trip that electronic crash bar with a coat hanger and you likely will not trip that REX with a piece of paper unless you light the paper on fire first (don't try that..).

    I've had one experience with a "trapped-in" situation behind double doors with maglocks (conventional crash bars) in experience at work (not and FD incident). There were medical patients behind this area and nobody could get in or out. I released the magnets by going to local microcontroller and pulling the wires off the fire alarm dropout relay board. Voila.

    Bottom line, there are lots of fancy ways to lock down and area and many combinations of those many ways. Chances are, you may have to break something but there will always be a way in.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Just an after thought to a good discussion... make sure to chock the door open or at least enough so it doesn't re-engage the magnet. Don't want to to be fooling with it if you need to get out of Dodge. Always have an escape plan!!!

    Be safe, R2

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