Snap! What an awful sinking feeling you have when you realize that your key has just broken off inside your lock. It feels like a red alarm emergency if you don’t happen to know how to deal with it. But don’t fret. There are ways you can get the key out before you have to call a professional.
Depending on your situation, you may have limited access to different tools or items. Say, if your key breaks off in the door to your home, then you might not have certain items you may need on your side of the door. If you are able to, use another entrance to your home to gain access to the inside of the door. It will be easier to work on if you can open the door. If the whole key is inserted, you can try opening the door with a screwdriver (if you happen to carry one in your car), then you can insert the screwdriver as much as you can into the lock and try turning the doorknob to see if it opens. This could at least get you access into your home to more options for tools.
If the key is visible, you may be able to pull it out. First, spray some lubricant into the lock to help loosen the parts inside. A dry lubricant is preferred over an oil-based one, since those can residue that can collect dirt and grime over time, clogging up your lock. If the key broke off without any teeth still attached to the part you’re holding in your hand, then you may need to realign the lock first. If it broke mid-turn, then you’ll have to do this step. Use a flathead screwdriver to turn it back to it’s vertical position. Use a pair of needle nose pliers to grip the piece of the key that is still sticking out and try to pull the key out that way. Note: This will work if the key broke off at the head of the key, with all the teeth inside the lock. Be careful trying to remove a key that isn’t fully inserted, you don’t want to push the key further into the lock making it harder to reach. If your pliers are proving clunky or are too big to get a good grasp, you can try a pair of tweezers and they may be able to do the trick.
If the pliers aren’t able to grip the broken key, try using a small blade used for a scroll saw or jigsaw. Slide the saw blade in the top part of the key hole, with the teeth facing downwards, next to the broken key into the lock. You should be able to feel the blade’s teeth grab onto the grooves, then you will pull the saw blade back out and the key should come with it. Locksmiths have a tool that is similar to these blades that they use to remove keys. Paper clips can also potentially work in this same manner.
If your key is removed successfully, keep both pieces and take them to a locksmith or key duplicating place and they will be able to make you a new one from the two broken parts.
If you still can’t seem to get the key out or if the lock has been damaged, call a locksmith to help with the repair. You can call us at Minnesota Locks with any of your concerns.
We offer automotive, commercial and residential locksmith services in the Twin Cities.