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What to Do When You Break a Key Off In a Lock

Apr 27, 2021

All things wear down over time.  Even the toughest of metals will eventually get a weak spot and can snap off after many years of frequent use.  

When a key breaks off in your lock you can end up feeling quite helpless because it is no longer possible to get the door open.  

A lot of people will keep tinkering with the doorknob and some even start hammering at the door when this happens.  These are the worst things you can do if you break a key off in a lock.  Instead of resolving to extreme measures, you should take a deep breath, take a step back and try the following safe methods.

Don’t Use the Key Again

Lots of people make a huge mistake to insert a broken key into the lock again after it snaps off. 

When you do this, you will only end up pushing the broken parts further into the lock.  The deeper these parts get jammed into the lock, the harder it will be for you to get your door open.  

Don’t toss the broken key into the bin either.  Locksmith companies often need both pieces to create a new key that will fit into your lock.

Try Using Tweezers

Before you use tweezers, you should consider the size of the tool.  If it is chunky, it can end up pushing the broken key back into the lock. 

An appropriate tweezer will fit into the lock or will be able to grab onto the piece of metal that might protrude from the lock so you can extract it.

 Try not to push too hard on your tweezers or they could slide off the edge of the metal and cause the broken key to shifting further into the lock.

Use a Broken Key Extractor

These tools are used by professional locksmiths.  This tool is placed inside the lock along with the key.  It hooks the teeth of the key and can then be used to slide the key from the lock.  You might have to try several times but this is the best way to get that broken key out yourself.

Try Hot Glue

This isn’t a very good option if the key isn’t visible inside the lock.  But if the broken key protrudes a bit, you can try to apply a bit of superglue or hot glue on the tip and hold the back part of the key against the glue.  When the glue dries or hardens, you can gently turn the key back and remove it from the lock.  

The key here is to give enough time for the glue to fully dry or you can end up ruining your attempts 

Tap the Cylinder

If you can point the lock downwards toward the ground then this technique can be handy.  Grab a piece of metal or hammer and gently tap the cylinder of the lock.  The vibrating motions can loosen the key inside so gravity can extract it.

Probe and Pull The Key

If the key extends out of the lock a bit then you can try to grab two hard objects.  Probe the key on both sides the way you would use a tweezer. 

Nog gently apply pressure and pull the key towards you.  

In some cases, you might have already turned the key before it broke off.  If this is the case, you might need to use your probe to twist the key back before pulling it out.

If these methods fail then it is best to give Smith Lock a call for professional assistance.  If you keep tinkering, you could end up jamming the key inside the lock, in which case, a lock replacement might be the only way to get the key out.  Professionals like Smith Lock offer automotive locksmith melbourne services and can assist you with your lock issues no matter what the hour might be.