hand of a guy opening the door using a key

How to Remove a Broken Key From a Lock? Tips and Tools to Use

You are running late to work and trying to get things in order as quickly as possible. You quickly insert your key into the lock of your front door and turn it, but you do not feel any fluid movement. You hear a snapping noise and realize when you look down, that your key has just broken inside the lock. What a great way to start your day.

It is frustrating and inconvenient to have a broken key inside a lock.

Why Do Keys Break in Locks?

This problem can be caused by a number of issues.

  • Standard keys are usually made from relatively soft metals like nickel and brass.
  • The key is damaged due to wear and tear.
  • The lock is either not lubricated enough or jammed.

What to Do if a Key Breaks in the Lock

It doesn’t matter what caused the key to breaking inside the lock. Whether it is a car lock, a business lock, or a home lock, it needs to be fixed immediately.

  • A broken key can cause lock damage.
  • You will be unable to lock your door if the key breaks inside the lock before you close the door. This puts your home, office, or car at greater risk for theft.
  • You may not be able to open the door again until you fix the problem if the key breaks off after you close the door.

How to Choose the Right Extraction Method Depending on Your Lock Type

It is important to note that the method used to remove a damaged key depends on the lock type. Pin tumbler locks are commonly found on doors and can be easily removed by using a key extractor, tapping the lock or a saw blade.

Other locking mechanisms may require different approaches. car lock or advanced digital or biometric locks, for example, present unique challenges because of their complex mechanisms. It is best to leave the removal of a broken lock key to a professional locksmith.

In the same way, padlocks and tubular locks also require different techniques as well as possibly specific tools to successfully extract keys without damaging them.

Understanding the type of lock will allow you to choose an appropriate method to extract a broken key, or determine if professional help is required.

How to Remove a Broken Key From a Lock

How Do You Remove a Broken Key From a Lock?

Consider yourself lucky if you find a piece of a broken key sticking out from the lock. You may be able to pull out the key piece by pinching the key between your fingers.

Grab your toolbox if you cannot find the piece that is still inside the keyhole.

Remove broken keys from locks with these tools

The job is more difficult if there is only a small piece of the key left. If you have a pair of needle nose pliers, or a magnet strong enough to pull out the piece of key left behind, this can be done.

You may do more harm than good if you poke and prod the lock and cannot quickly grab the key. You could damage the lock by pushing the broken part further into it. We actually recommend against it – proceed cautiously!

Key extractor tool

In situations where a broken key fragment has become lodged in the lock and is difficult to remove with magnets or needle-nose pliers, locksmiths will use specialized tools called key extractors.

The key extractor is used to remove the offending fragments that are stuck inside the lock. The tool is made from a thin, sturdy piece of metal that has a spiral or hook design on the end. This grips the broken keypiece. The design is intended to grab the serrations on the broken key and pull it out.

Although the idea of using a key extractor yourself may seem appealing, many situations require professional handling. The use of a key extraction tool requires patience and expertise. You could damage the lock or push the key deeper inside if you don’t have the necessary skills and knowledge.

The Saw Blade Method

Some people have tried a homemade method that involves a small blade. It must be handled with extreme care and precision. Insert the saw blade carefully into the lock cylinder aligning it to the teeth of the broken key inside. After the saw blade has hooked onto the key, pull it out gently. It is important to have the saw teeth grab the edge of the fragmented key so that it can be removed. This method can damage the lock, so only use it as a last option.

It’s important to realize that, regardless of the method you choose, key extraction may not work on your first try. You may need to make several attempts bit by bit to remove the broken key. Patience (no pun intended!) is the key as haste can damage the lock mechanism, or cause the broken key to be pushed deeper inside.

Consider Professional Help

These methods can be helpful in certain situations, but if you use them incorrectly or inappropriately, they could cause damage to the lock cylinder and create a more difficult situation. It’s best to leave the job to the professionals if your DIY search and attempts to remove a key don’t work or you feel uncomfortable doing it yourself. A locksmith with the right tools and experience can handle a variety of situations. They will be able to remove a broken or cracked key without further damage.

Master Key

Remove a Broken Lock Key when Part of it Doesn’t Stick Out?

If you can’t remove the key yourself, you may have to hire a professional.

You may be able to use a screwdriver with a flathead that is small enough to fit in the keyhole. You can use the screwdriver to try and lever the key out of the lock by inserting it into the lock. You can then remove the broken part with a needle-nose pliers or strong magnet.

It’s also possible to damage the lock by forcing tools inside. Calling a locksmith may be the best option.

How to Prevent Broken Keys?

You can prevent the key from breaking inside a lock by doing a few simple things.

Lock Lubricant

The lock may not have been properly maintained if keys are snapping inside the lock. Spray a silicone-based lubricant into the keyhole every six months or whenever there is excessive friction or grinding when you lock the door.

Replacement keys

The keys are often used and subjected to abuse. If you find that your keys have started to wear out, it is time to get a -copy and throw away the old one.

When Should You Call a Locksmith?

Calling a locksmith is recommended if you are unsure, if you have tried to extract the key for a long time, or if there’s a concern that further damage could be done to the lock. They have the experience and advanced tools to get the key out without damaging your lock.

You should make it your priority to resolve this problem quickly and protect your lock mechanism. In case you have any doubts about the extraction of the broken key, a locksmith is the best person to call.

When is it Time to Call A Locksmith?

Keypad Locksmith provides emergency Locksmith services to meet this need. For an estimate, please call us at 240-205-9039.

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