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Extracting a Broken Key From a Lock: What You Need to Know

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The locks on your home are used several times every day, week after week and year after year. Because they are used so frequently, the locks in your home can begin to suffer from wear and tear. A common problem which can develop is a lock becoming misaligned or sticky. If these problems develop, you may need to use an increased amount of force to turn the key. Eventually, the pressure you use to turn the key may result in the key snapping while it is in the lock. Below is a guide which will help you to retrieve a piece of the broken key from a lock.

Check the key

Your first step of action should be to examine the broken key carefully. If the part of the key you hold contains some of the key cuts, this would suggest that the key was snapped before the lock was turned. However, if the key has broken very close to the end and the entire cut part of the key is trapped in the lock, this suggests that the lock has partly turned and the barrel will be misaligned. When the barrel of a lock is out of alignment, it will be very difficult to extract a key without the help of a professional locksmith. If the barrel of the lock is aligned, you can attempt to remove the piece of broken key yourself.

Add lubricating oil

You should use lubricating oil in order to loosen up the lock mechanism. Your local hardware store should be able to supply a can of lubricating fluid, many of which are supplied with a thin straw which can be connected to the aerosol dispenser. This straw will allow you to direct the lubricating oil deep into the lock accurately.   

Extract the key using needle nosed pliers

Once you have lubricated the lock, you should attempt to remove the key using a pair of needle nosed pliers. Gently insert the nose of the pliers into the mouth of the lock and attempt to grab the end of the broken key. Once you have it, you need to pull back on the pliers to remove the key very gently. This can be a very difficult operation so it may take several attempts before you are successful.

If you are having problems removing a broken key from a lock in your home, you should contact a professional locksmith today.