Have you ever gone to unlock your door, only to turn the key, pull it away and find only half of the key in your hands? Where is the other half? Firmly stuck in your door of course! It’s never a fun situation, but keys can and do break, and when they do it’s usually inside a lock. That not only means you have to replace the key, but you’re now stuck outside without any way of unlocking your door. Of course, our advice in this situation is to call your friendly local locksmith, but if you’re a confident DIY-er, there are a few things you can try yourself first.
The Plier Method
If you can see a part of the broken key poking out of the lock, even a little bit, then you might be able to rescue it using a pair of needle-nosed pliers. This method can work if even just the tiniest fragment of the key is sticking out, but it does require some nerve and a steady hand.
Grab yourself a pair of needle-nosed pliers, or a pair of tweezers if you’re desperate. Line them up with the piece of broken key, grip and pull gently. Make sure you’re pulling in a straight line and not wiggling the key around, as this could damage your lock. Don’t try to yank or rip the key out either – this will also cause damage to the lock and possibly just break off the piece of protruding key, making life much more difficult for you.
The Extractor Tool Method
If there isn’t enough key protruding from the lock, or you tried to pull it out of the lock and it didn’t work, then you can try using a broken key extraction tool. This is a specialised tool that uses a hook and barb to lock onto and pull the stuck key from the lock without any damage.
To use one, insert the extractor tool into the lock alongside the stuck key. Work the angle so that the hook or barb can reach the teeth of the key. Once the tool latches and it feels secure, gently pull it out. Again, do this slowly and gently to avoid causing damage to the lock.
The Lubrication Method
If the key is jammed into the lock (even if it isn’t broken), then a little lubricant could be all you need to get it free. Make sure you’re using a graphite-based lubricant, as this will prevent any damage to the metal of the lock. Other types of lubricant may work at first, but they will erode the metal plating of the lock and eventually stop it from working altogether.
Once you have the right lubricant, spray a small amount into the keyway. This will help the key to slide out more easily. Give it a few minutes to sit before using pliers, tweezers or a broken key extraction tool to remove the key.
Stop It Happening Again
If you’ve managed to remove your broken key from the lock, congratulations! Now it’s time to make sure that doesn’t happen again. True, we can’t always stop a key from breaking in a lock, but there are a few things you can do to make it less frequent:
- Maintain your locks by regularly lubricating them with a graphite-based lubricant to keep them working smoothly.
- Inspect your keys regularly for wear and tear. If the key is bent or showing signs of damage, get it replaced right away.
- Avoid using force when turning keys in locks. If your lock is resistant to turning, it might need some maintenance.
Remember, if you’re not confident trying any of these things yourself – DON’T. It’s very easy to cause more damage to your key and lock by doing these things wrong, and that could land you with a much bigger bill to replace the entire lock. Instead, give us a call, and we will be happy to come out to you and remove the key for you. We can do this without causing damage, get you into your property, and cut you a replacement key then and there, so you don’t need to worry about securing your home if you need to go out again. We’re only a phone call away, so if you’re stuck outside in your sock with a broken key, call My Locks.