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How to Get a Broken Key Out of a Lock

How to Get a Broken Key Out of a Lock

Keys wear out over time. The metal becomes fatigued, which leads to key breaking. This break can occur inside a lock cylinder when turning the key. What happens next? In this blog, with expert tips from professional locksmiths, we’ll guide you on how to get a broken key out of a lock. 

Methods for Removing a Broken Key from a Lock

If you’ve ever had a key break inside a lock cylinder, you know the frustration it can cause. Over time, keys can wear out, leading to key fatigue and eventual breakage, especially when turning the key. When this happens, it’s crucial to safely remove the broken key without causing further damage. Here’s how:

1. Lock Cylinder Vertical Method

Turn the key cylinder vertically; this will lock the key in place, making it impossible to remove.

The best approach is to remove both the lock cylinder and the broken key from the housing.

2. Locksmith’s Technique

A locksmith can employ a tool with textured edges or ridges to grab onto the blade of the key and gently remove it.

3. DIY Approach with Tweezers

If the broken key is near the surface of the lock, you can use tweezers to grasp and extract the broken part.

It’s important to note that using super glue to attempt removal can cause harm and is not recommended.

If these simpler techniques do not work, here are some additional options for removing a broken or cracked key.

4. Jigsaw Blade Method

Insert the blade of a jigsaw between the lock and the key. Carefully maneuver the blade to grip and extract the broken key piece.

5. Pin and Needle Technique

Use a fine pin or needle to try and hook onto the broken key. Gently pull the key fragment out.

6. Lubrication and Gravity

Apply a lubricant to the lock cylinder and let it sit for a while. Then, tap the lock gently to encourage the broken key to slide out due to gravity.

Follow these steps recommended by experts to retrieve a key that has broken from a lock with minimal damage and hassle. Remember that patience and a steady hand are key to successful key extraction.

There are a few other options if the simpler techniques do not work. Below are details on how to remove a broken or cracked key.

The Cylinder Must Be Aligned Vertically

Make sure the cylinder is upright, with the pins inside that match the key cuts. When you insert the key, it turns the cylinder. But if the key breaks, those pins can block it from coming out.

To get a broken key out, put the cylinder in its usual upright position. Look at the key’s cut, the part with the notches, and make sure it’s facing upward. Sometimes, people install cylinders upside-down, so just do it how you normally would with the key.

Now, take a paperclip or a small screwdriver, and use it to adjust the cylinder. You want to move it so the pins can move freely and let the key slide out.

The Broken Key Can Be Removed from the Cylinder

If your key has broken inside the lock cylinder, you can usually get it out by following these steps for Schlage and similar door hardware:

  1. First, take the lock off the door so you can reach the lock cylinder.
  2. Look at the back of the lock cylinder. Is there a hole there? Many times, you can use a paperclip or a small rod to push the broken key out through this hole.
  3. Sometimes, you might need to remove a c-clip or a nut inside the lock to access the cylinder from the back. If this seems complicated, you can also take the lock to a locksmith who can help you disassemble and reassemble it.
  4. Keep in mind that this method won’t work for all brands like Kwikset, as they don’t have holes on the back of their cylinders to access the inside and remove the key.

Grab the Key with a Rough or Edged Tool

To retrieve a broken key from a lock, you can fashion your own key extractor using simple tools and materials. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you with this process:

Create Your Extractor: Start by making your key extractor. You can use a thin metal strip with grooves or even repurpose items like paper clips or needle-nose pliers for this purpose. If you use a paper clip, you might need to roughen its edges with a file to provide a better grip.

Insert the Extractor: Gently insert the key extractor into the lock along the edge where the key is broken. Be careful not to force it, as this could damage the lock.

Engage the Pins: As you push the extractor against the top edge of the keyhole, the lock pins should move upwards. This is a positive sign, indicating that the extractor is in the right place.

Twist and Pull: While maintaining gentle pressure, twist the extractor in a spiral motion while pulling it outwards. Don’t worry if it doesn’t work on the first try; it may take a few attempts.

Use the Hook Extractor: If the spiral extractor doesn’t do the trick, you can use a hook extractor. Insert it on the cut side of your broken key, just slightly beyond the first cut, and then pull.

Consider Ready-Made Sets: If you don’t need an immediate solution or prefer not to make your own extractor, you can find affordable key extraction sets online. eBay is a good place to look for such tools.

Remove the Broken Key Close to the Opening

To remove a broken key from a lock, follow these steps:

Use Needle-Nose Pliers or Tweezers

Sometimes, the key may not be fully inserted into the lock and might be sticking out slightly. In such cases, grab the broken edge with needle-nose pliers or tweezers. Make sure not to push the key further into the lock; you either have enough key to grab onto or you don’t.

Try a Glue Stick (A Tested Hack)

You can use a glue stick to remove the broken key. Here’s how:

  1. Heat the tip of the glue stick until it melts.
  2. Gently press the melted glue stick into the keyhole.
  3. Allow the glue to harden around the key.
  4. Carefully pull the key out.

Note: This method may require some patience and multiple attempts. If the glue stick only partially removes the key, proceed with the next step.

Trim the Glue Stick and Wiggle

If the glue stick didn’t fully do the job, follow these steps:

  1. Trim the edge of the glue stick to create a sharp point.
  2. Insert the pointed glue stick into the keyhole.
  3. Before pulling, gently move the glue stick side-to-side to break the key’s grip on the cylinder.
  4. After a few tries, if the key is slightly out of the hole, use needle-nose pliers to finish the job.
Never Use Superglue

It’s important to note that using superglue to remove a key is not recommended. Only apply super glue to the tip of the broken key piece. Be extremely cautious not to get super glue anywhere else on the lock, as it will permanently glue the lock in place, making it impossible to retrieve the key.

What If You Still Can’t Get the Broken Key Out?

Call Keychain Locksmith in Kansas City!

If you’ve tried everything but still can’t remove the broken key, it’s time to call a locksmith. They can help you without using glue, and it’s often cheaper than replacing the entire lock.

But if you’ve already gone ahead and used glue to stick the key in the lock, it’s best to toss it away and get a new one. You can purchase a new lock from a local locksmith. Not only will they offer you a great price, but they can also match the new lock to your existing house key.

Remember, calling a locksmith is your best bet in this situation. And if you’re in the Kansas City, MO area or nearby, don’t hesitate to reach out to KeyChain Locksmith for expert assistance.

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