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How to Get a Broken Key Out of a Lock: Step-by-Step Guide

Picture this: you’re in a rush and hastily insert your key into the lock, only to have it snap in your hand. Panic sets in as you realize you’re locked out with a broken key lodged in the lock. What now? Fear not, for this blog post will guide you through a step-by-step process on how to get a broken key out of a lock, maintain your lock properly, and prevent the nightmare from happening again.

Key Takeaways

  • Understand the causes and preventive measures of key breaks in locks for home security.
  • Take immediate action when your key breaks, such as using DIY methods or calling a professional locksmith.
  • Contact a professional locksmith for safe and efficient key extraction services to prevent Damage.

Understanding Why Keys Break in Locks

A broken key stuck in a door lock

Keys break in locks due to several factors, including key material wear, lock problems, and forceful usage. Grasping why keys break is vital in averting future mishaps and preserving your home’s security. When a key breaks, you may need a broken key extractor or even a new lock.

Now, we’ll explore in more detail the causes behind key breaks inside and methods to prevent them.

Key Material and Wear

Keys are typically made from brass or other soft metals, which can weaken over time. Regular usage of the key can cause wear and tear, such as scratches and fading of the surface coating, leading to key sticking issues in the lock. The improper use of a key, such as for opening parcels or tins of paint, can cause the teeth of the key to weaken and break due to wear.

Inspecting and replacing your keys at the first sign of wear is a key preventative measure against breakage.

Lock Problems

Poor installation, fluctuations in temperature, and an accumulation of debris are potential factors that may result in weakened locks. If the key fails to turn in the lock, it could be indicative of the need to replace the lock. Forcing a key to turn in a lock may lead to damage to both the key and the lock mechanism, such as the key breaking off inside the lock or the lock becoming jammed.

Hence, proper lock maintenance is vital in averting such issues and extending the lifespan of your keys and locks.

Immediate Actions to Take When Your Key Breaks

A person trying to remove a broken key from a door lock

When encountering a broken key, keeping calm and following the correct steps to handle the situation is vital. Avoid using excessive force when attempting to open the door lock, as this can lead to key breakage. It’s advised to assess the situation to determine the most suitable solution, whether it’s trying DIY methods or calling a professional locksmith.

Avoid Excessive Force

Applying excessive force when a key breaks in a lock can have several negative consequences:

  • It can push the broken piece further into the lock, making it more challenging to remove.
  • It increases the likelihood of the key breaking further or damaging the lock mechanism.
  • Forcibly tampering with a lock could result in damage to the lock, malfunctioning of the lock, compromised security, visible signs of tampering, and even legal repercussions.

Hence, it is imperative to stay calm and refrain from exerting force on the lock when your key breaks.

Assess the Situation

An image showing a broken key stuck inside a lock, demonstrating how to get a broken key out of a lock.

Assessing the situation and deciding whether DIY methods are applicable or if locksmith assistance is required is a crucial step before trying to extract a broken key from the lock. Attempting to remove a broken key from a lock may result in:

  • Damaging the lock
  • Breaking the key further inside the lock
  • Attracting iron filings and metallic debris if using magnets
  • Causing interior harm to the lock mechanism
  • Compromising the security of the property

If no part of the key is visible in the lock, it’s recommended to take the lock to a local locksmith for disassembly and reassembly.

DIY Methods for Removing Broken Keys

A person using needle nose pliers to remove a broken key from a door lock

There are multiple DIY methods you can use to extract the broken piece from the lock when dealing with a broken key. These methods include:

  • Using needle nose pliers and tweezers
  • Using paperclips
  • Using jigsaw blades
  • Using glue sticks

However, it’s essential to proceed with caution and only attempt these methods if you feel confident in your ability to extract the key without causing further damage.

Needle Nose Pliers and Tweezers

If the broken key is visible and accessible, needle nose pliers or thin tweezers can be used to delicately grasp the edge of the key and gently pull it out. It’s important to be cautious, so as not to push the key in further. This method can be effective in removing the broken key without causing damage to the lock, ensuring a safe and efficient solution to the problem.

Paperclip and Jigsaw Blade

Another DIY method for removing broken keys involves using a paperclip or jigsaw blade. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Insert the paperclip or blade alongside the broken key to grip and remove it from the lock.
  2. This method can be effective, but it requires patience and a steady hand.
  3. Be careful not to push the broken key further into the lock or damage the lock mechanism while attempting this method.

Glue Stick Technique

The glue stick technique involves:

  1. Melting the end of a glue stick
  2. Inserting it into the keyway
  3. Allowing it to cool
  4. Gradually removing it from the lock to extract the key

While this method may seem simple, it should be used with caution, as it is not guaranteed to work. Additionally, using superglue may cause damage to the lock and its functional components, like the pins.

Lock Maintenance and Prevention Tips

A person lubricating a door lock

Following the correct lock cylinder maintenance and prevention tips is key to averting key breakage and ensuring your locks function seamlessly. These tips include regular lubrication, proper key handling, and having spare keys and replacements on hand.

Adhering to these guidelines can extend the longevity of your keys and locks, helping you avoid the hassle of broken keys in the future.

Regular Lubrication

Lubricating your locks with a silicone-based lubricant every six months is key to preventing breakage and ensuring they operate smoothly. Regular lubrication reduces friction between the key and the lock mechanism, decreasing wear and tear on the key and helping to avoid it becoming weak or brittle.

Additionally, lubrication helps to prevent corrosion, which can further weaken the key and increase its chances of breaking.

Proper Key Handling

Handle keys with care, avoiding excessive force and ensuring proper alignment when inserting and turning the key. Exerting too much force could result in the key breaking off inside the lock or the lock becoming obstructed.

Proper key handling can prevent a key broken situation and ensure continued access to your property, while also avoiding a key stuck scenario.

Spare Keys and Replacements

A person holding a spare key

Keep spare keys on hand and replace worn or damaged keys to prevent breakage and ensure continued access to your property. Having spare keys offers several advantages, including convenience, cost-efficiency, and prevention of lockouts.

Furthermore, replacing keys periodically due to wear and tear from regular use can help prolong the life of your keys and locks.

When to Call a Professional Locksmith

A person assessing a door lock for damage

Sometimes, DIY methods might be insufficient to extract a broken key from a lock, or you might suspect lock damage post-attempt. Under such circumstances, seeking assistance from a professional locksmith is advisable, rather than attempting further solutions from a hardware store.

Professional locksmiths offer key extraction services, including the use of a spiral key extractor, and can assess the lock for damage, ensuring a safe and efficient solution to the problem.

Assessing Lock Damage

After attempting DIY methods to remove a broken key, assess the lock for damage by examining the keyhole for scratch marks or fresh metal marks, and testing the lock with another key. If damage is suspected, contact a locksmith for repair or replacement.

A professional locksmith can ensure the lock is functioning correctly and maintain the security of your property.

Key Extraction Services

Professional locksmiths offer key extraction services for broken keys in locks, ensuring a safe and efficient solution to the problem. They utilize specialized tools and techniques to extract the broken key without causing further damage to the lock or key.

If you find yourself unable to remove a broken key using DIY methods, contacting a professional locksmith is the best course of action.


In conclusion, dealing with a broken key in a lock can be a frustrating and challenging situation. However, by understanding the causes of key breakage, taking immediate actions when your key breaks, attempting DIY methods, and following proper lock maintenance and prevention tips, you can minimize the occurrence of broken keys and maintain the security of your property. When in doubt, always consult a professional locksmith to ensure a safe and efficient solution to your broken key dilemma.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you remove a key that broke off in the lock?

To remove a key that broke off in the lock, spray WD-40 into the keyhole and use a screwdriver to turn the lock back to its default position. Use needle-nosed pliers to grab and pull out the broken key piece.

What is the best tool to remove a broken key from a lock?

The best tool to remove a broken key from a lock is a special key extraction tool used by locksmiths, which works similarly to a mini hacksaw or jigsaw blade.

How do you get a broken key out of a lock with a paperclip?

Gently slide a paperclip along the edge of the broken key and twist to get a grip, then pull slowly to remove the key.

What are the common causes of key breakage in locks?

Key breakage is commonly caused by material wear, lock problems, and forceful usage.

How often should I lubricate my locks?

For optimal performance, it’s recommended to lubricate your locks every six months with a silicone-based lubricant.

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