How to get a broken key out of a lock
If you’ve jangled a stiff key a little too much – and found half of it breaking off in your hand – don’t panic. Take a breath and try these simple tips for how to get a snapped key out of a lock.
Method One: Pliers and Pull
Prep the lock for easy removal
First, spray some form of lubricant into the lock. This helps to loosen the key as well as the locking mechanism. Silicone sprays (like WD40) are your best bet as they’re non-sticky and protect the lock long-term against rust too.
Check the lock’s position
So that parts of your key don’t get left behind inside the lock, it’s important to have your locking mechanism in either the locked or unlocked position, not stuck between the two.
So the next thing you need to do - before you try to pull the key out completely - is to get everything lined up.
To do that, grab the pliers and slowly turn the bit of the key that’s sticking out back to its vertical position.
Tip: Don’t try to fully turn the key or use the other half to try and unlock it. This can push the key further inside the lock, making it much harder to remove.
Pull it bit by bit
Take your pliers and grip the end of the key, pulling it slowly towards you. Although it’s tempting to grab and pull in one go, using the pliers to pull it bit by bit, holding onto more and more of the key each time, means there’s less chance of it breaking again.
Broken key still stuck in the door? It’s time to try something else:
Don’t try to fully turn the key or use the other half to try and unlock it as this can push the key further inside the lock
Method Two: Poke, Snag, and Pull
First of all, repeat the steps one and two from the above process.
Insert a Jigsaw blade
A jigsaw blade is a narrow, serrated, thin piece of metal. Insert it next to the key making sure that if the serrations are at an angle, they are facing you. Wiggle the blade all the way until it’s squeezed in beside the key.
Tip: Safety first. Protect your hand wherever you’re holding the blade with duct tape or a cloth so that you don’t accidentally cut yourself in the process.
Twist and snag
Turn the blade slightly towards the key to grip and begin to pull. The blade will hopefully latch onto the key, gripping it so that as you remove the blade, the key comes with it.
This may not work on the first try, as it’s a little more fiddly than method one, but slowly and steady wins the race. Keep poking and pulling until you get a grip. Then, gradually pull bit by bit to keep the key intact.
Protect your hand wherever you’re holding the blade with duct tape or a cloth
Still no luck?
If you’ve followed our tips and tricks on how to get a broken key out of a door and haven’t managed to crack it, don’t worry: all is not lost!
Local Heroes has a network of trusted locksmiths who will be able to fix it for you. They’re all vetted by us and their work comes with a 12-month guarantee backed by British Gas.