Fix a broken key in the lock
Edited by abdoul sow, Robbi, Lynn, Mark Zonio and 17 others
The key breaks in the lock of the door - now what? Read on to see how to open the door anyway and what to do next. If a broken key got stuck or broke off in the lock, you may think of a locksmith immediately, but why not try it yourself first - it could save you a lot of money.
- 1 Steps
- 2 How to Remove Broken Key from a Door Lock
- 3 How to Remove a Broken Key on a Car Lock
- 4 How to Remove Broken Key from a Door Lock
- 5 How To Remove A Broken Key With A Magnet
- 6 Tips
- 7 Comments
- 1Do not panic! Your lock can be opened without damage. Enter the rest of the key in the lock, exerting pressure for the two pieces of key touch. Turn gently to open by maintaining the pressure, without forcing. If your door is not completely closed, so that it does not force the lock, push the door slightly with your knee or shoulder.Advertisement
- 2Once you've opened the door, use a strong magnet to draw the piece of broken key out enough to grab it with tweezers or needle nose pliers.Advertisement
- 3If the magnet doesn't work and not enough of the key is showing, use a tiny watch screwdriver to pry the key out enough to grab it with tweezers. Be gentle to avoid damaging the lock.
- 4Take the spare key to a key cutter and get it duplicated. If you do not have a spare key you can bring the broken pieces and most key cutters can make a new key from that, unless it is too badly twisted or damaged.
- 5If you can't get a new key cut, call a locksmith to re-key the lock. He will provide you with two new keys but this option is much more expensive.
- 6Alternatively, if it's a lock for the door of your house you can go to your local home depot and buy a new lock and install it. It's pretty easy and most people can do it themselves. This route is likely cheaper than the locksmith.
How to Remove Broken Key from a Door Lock
- Selection of drill bits (one ¼" drill bit minimum)
- Electric drill
- A selection of straight blade screwdrivers
- 1If the key is broken while being inserted in the lock, you can operate the lock.Advertisement
- 2If there is a portion of the key still protruding from the lock, remove or twist the key using pliers.
- 3The pliers method requires you to pull or press on the door knob with your other hand so there is a little pressure to the lock's bolt. Notice if the bolt is free from pressure while you turn the pliers and unlock or open the door.
- 4If there is a remaining key left, pull on the broken part of the key still in the lock. When the key is snapped between the "unlock" and "locked" position, it needs to be twisted to either of those positions before it can be withdrawn.
- 5When there is not protruding key left in the lock, use a blade screwdriver or any blade small enough to put a little pressure in the keyhole. Pull or press the doorknob with one hand so there is a little pressure on the bolt. Twist the screwdriver to operate the lock in a same way as if the key was attached to the end of the blade, this is to unlock or open.
- 6As the door is unlocked, open the door then twist the screwdriver in any direction. Make sure you can unlock or lock it using a screwdriver.
- 7If you are in a hurry, lock the door using a screwdriver then leave. This will make the key not apparent that it is in the lock, and attend to it later. When you have available time, lock mechanism will need removal or / and disassembly enable to remove the broken key. A hardware shop must be able to make a new key or a part of it.
- 8When the key is broken while it is inserted, push the other part of the key into the lock. This should work the "unlock" and "lock" operation of the lock. The lock mechanism will need to be removed or disassembled to remove the broken key. A hardware shop should be able to make you a new key or parts to set the entry operable.
- 9If the above-mentioned techniques do not work, you may unlock the door by drilling or hiring a locksmith. Drilling is affordable but most damaging. Drilling too far may ruin the lock mechanism. Locksmith do less damage but will cost you a chunk of change.
- 10Drilling will be in the depth of equal to the part of key still inserted in the working lock. Select a drill bit to remove the metal from the lock cylinder. Lock cylinder is the part of the lock that turns with the key. Usually, most home locks are drilled with a ¼" drill bit.
- 11If the bulk of the cylinder metal is removed, pry the remaining metal of the pins and cylinder so that the operation will twist to unlock. Remove the lockset and show it to the hardware store to get new key or lock cylinder.
- 12Begin by drilling with a ¼" bit, since you may not keep the drill at the center of the cylinder. Then gradually adjust to slightly larger bit to determine how big a bit can be used without destroying the lockset.
- 13Drilling too deep may damage the lockset. Drill only to a depth that a working key would go.
- 14Using too big a drill bit may damage the lockset. Drill only the cylinder.
How to Remove a Broken Key on a Car Lock
- Lock lubricant
- Key removal tool
Breaking a key in a lock may not only render the key unusable, but also the lock. If a key is broken in the car lock, the key becomes lodged in the lock action. When the lock mechanism is in the locked position when the key was broken, it cannot be reopened. The way to remove broken key is to:
- 1Remove the head of the key. If the head of the key was not entirely broken, pull it back and forth until it separates from the body of the key. The key head is unusable.
- Select a tool that is narrow enough to slip into the lock key way. That is the straight opening in the lock that extends from the key opening. The tool should have one or more hooks at the end to be inserted to the lock.
How to Remove Broken Key from a Door Lock
- Screwdriver (optional)
- Penetrating oil
- Jig saw or scroll saw blade
- Needle-nosed pliers
- 1Spray penetrating oil into a keyhole to make the works loosen up. This is useful, especially if the lock has been difficult to operate recently.
- 2Check to see how much of the key was broken. When the key is broken in the middle, and the portion you are holding involves key cuts, the lock may still be aligned to let the key pass in and out. When the part that you are holding only has the head of the key and nothing from the cuts, you may have twisted the part of the key before it is broken. Put a screwdriver into the lock and twist it back to its original vertical position.
- 3Place the tip of the needle-nosed pliers into the keyhole. Hold the broken key and pull it out. This method may work when the head of the key is broken and the cuts are inside of the lock. If you cannot pull out the key, remove the pliers and set them aside.
- 4Move the blade of the jigsaw or scroll saw into the keyhole - teeth facing downward. Push it until you sense that the teeth of the blade has caught one of the cuts on the key. Pull out the saw blade out of the keyhole. It must be maneuvered in such a way to pull out the broken key with it.
How To Remove A Broken Key With A Magnet
If your key is made of iron or another metal that can be manipulated by a magnet, then you can try using a magnet. It won't work if it's made of brass or bronze.
- Paper clip
- Check to see if your key is attracted to a magnet. Keys that are made mostly of iron, nickel or cobalt can be magnetized.
- If your key is attracted to magnets. Although some of our tools are magnetized, such as drill bits, it is advisable to work with a much stronger magnet to work with.
- Straighten the paper clip enough to insert the clip into the lock.
- Hold the magnet and place it against the paper clip.
- Try to insert the paper clip and see if the clip can contact and pull out the broken key.
- If the paper clip doesn't have enough power to pull out the key's broken pieces, try to leave the key's remaining part in with the magnet to add enough magnetizing power on the key.
- Insert the remaining part of the key and see if you can pull the rest of the key's broken pieces out of the lock with it.
- Note. Some broken parts will be lodged too tight to be pulled by the magnet. Try another option if this doesn't work.
- If the key was grabbed using a fine pliers or by the fingers, make sure to pull the key straight out. Any side pressure will make the key resist being withdrawn and may cause a second key breakage.
- If you don't have the tools needed because they are inside, look to where the key has snapped. If only half of the key is stuck in the lock, no one will be able to grab the lock while you look for your tools. When the key cuts are in the lock, anyone can twist it using a screwdriver. Let someone guard the door as you gather your tools.