What to Do When Faced with a Broken Key in a Lock

What to Do When Faced with a Broken Key in a Lock

Experiencing a key breaking inside a lock can be extremely frustrating and stressful, often leaving you feeling stranded and unsure of what to do next. Whether you're trying to enter your home after a long day or secure it before leaving, dealing with a broken key requires immediate attention. Fortunately, with the right approach and tools, you can quickly resolve the issue without causing additional stress or damage.

Make is here to provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to retrieve a broken key from a lock, helping you get back to your plans without unnecessary hassle.

Understanding the Problem

There are several reasons why a key might break inside a lock, and identifying the cause is crucial for effective resolution.

Excessive Force: Applying too much force when turning the key is a common cause of breakage, especially with older or corroded locks.

Wear and Tear: Keys can wear out and weaken over time, making them prone to breaking at inconvenient times.

Debris in the Lock: Foreign objects or debris inside the lock mechanism can obstruct the key's movement and cause it to snap.

Understanding why your key broke can help prevent future occurrences and guide you in choosing the best method for removing the broken piece. When inspecting the lock, proceed with care to avoid pushing the broken part further in, making extraction more difficult.

Tools of the Trade

To successfully remove a broken key from a lock, having the right tools is essential. Here are some common household items that can be helpful:

Lock Lubricant: Applying a lubricant reduces friction between the key fragment and the lock mechanism, making the extraction process smoother and minimizing the risk of damaging the lock.

Tweezers: Thin, pointed tweezers are ideal for gripping small, accessible parts of the broken key. Apply gentle pressure to avoid pushing the piece further into the lock.

Needle-Nose Pliers: If a portion of the key is sticking out and tweezers aren't effective, needle-nose pliers can provide a stronger grip for gently pulling the key fragment out.

Broken Key Extractor Tool: Designed specifically for extracting broken keys, this tool hooks onto the key fragment, allowing you to pull it out precisely. It’s tailored to fit into the keyway and engage with the broken key, making it an invaluable tool for resolving this issue.

Knowing how and when to use these tools can significantly increase your chances of a successful extraction without causing further damage.

Step-by-Step Extraction

Here is a detailed guide to help you safely and efficiently remove a broken key from your lock:

Apply Lock Lubricant: Start by applying a small amount of lubricant to the keyhole. This will reduce friction and make it easier to remove the broken piece. Use a lubricant suitable for locks, like graphite powder or a silicone-based spray, to avoid damage or clogging.

Insert the Tool: Select the most appropriate tool for the situation. If using a broken key extractor or a thin piece of wire, carefully insert it into the lock alongside the broken key fragment.

Engage the Broken Key: Try to hook the tool onto the broken key. This may require gentle wiggling or rotation to secure a firm grip on the fragment.

Pull Out the Key Piece: Once you've hooked the broken key, gently pull it out. Patience and a steady hand are crucial, as excessive force can push the piece further in or damage the lock.

Test the Lock: After successfully removing the broken key, test the lock with a spare key to ensure it still functions properly and hasn't sustained any damage.

Seeking Professional Assistance

While you may be able to retrieve a broken key on your own, some situations call for professional help. If the broken piece is deeply lodged, the lock is damaged, or you're unsure about attempting the extraction, calling a professional locksmith can save the day.

Professional locksmiths have the right tools, expertise, and experience to handle complex situations without causing further damage. They can efficiently extract broken keys, repair any damage, and even replace the lock if necessary, ensuring your property's security. Additionally, locksmiths can provide advice on preventing similar issues and may recommend more durable lock options to enhance security.

Make understands the urgency and frustration of a broken key situation, offering a wide range of emergency locksmith services. Available 24/7, 365 days a year, we ensure you get swift and effective assistance whenever you need it most.


Dealing with a broken key can be stressful, but with the right approach and expert guidance, it's a manageable problem. By understanding the issue, using the appropriate tools, and following our step-by-step process, you can successfully retrieve a broken key from your lock. If you need additional help, Make is here to provide professional services and expert advice, ensuring a prompt and effective resolution to your lock and key issues.