This article explains why a key might break off in a lock and offers tips on how to prevent keys from breaking. It also covers what someone should do if they have a key broken in a lock and when to call a locksmith.
Imagine coming home from work with your groceries in one hand and your briefcase in the other. You go to unlock your front door and snap — your key breaks in the lock. Ugh! With your key broken in the lock, you can’t open the door. You’re stuck. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to retrieve your broken key and get back inside your home.
When you're trying to figure out how to get a broken key out of a lock, it’s important to understand why it may have broken off in the first place. There are several reasons a key might break off in a lock, including:
Certainly, your first concern is how to get the broken key out of your lock. The answer depends on how your key broke. If a portion of the key is still sticking out of the lock, you may be able to remove it with just a few tools.
Start by spraying an oil-based lubricant, such as WD-40, into the lock. This lubricant can improve the functionality of the lock. Next, take a pair of needle-nose pliers and try to gently pull the key out of the lock. Be careful not to pull too hard or extend the pliers too far into the lock because this could damage it. Once you pull the key out of the lock, don’t throw it away. Instead, take your broken key to a locksmith or store with key-making services to have a replacement made.
If you can’t remove the key from the lock by pulling gently, it’s best to call in the professionals before you damage the lock. You should also call a locksmith if no portion of the key is sticking out of the lock because it can be nearly impossible to remove it without causing damage.
Locksmiths have specialized key extractor tools, such as a spiral key extractor, and the expertise to remove the key without damaging your lock. In the rare case when a broken key can't be extracted, the locksmith can replace the entire locking system and provide you with a new key.
There are several steps you can take to reduce the risk of your key breaking in a lock, including:
If you have a key broken in a lock, the most important thing to remember is to contact a locksmith if you can’t easily remove it using basic pliers. Calling in the professionals can prevent your lock from breaking and help you gain entry to your home.