When a Key Breaks Off in a Lock


The very basics of home security begin with a locked front door. It may seem ridiculous, but it can make a huge difference. About 35% of burglars enter through an unlocked door or window, and close to 40% come in through the front door. Even if they are determined to get into the one specific house, that front door is a significant barrier. So if (or when) the key breaks off in the lock it's imperative that it gets dealt with quickly.

Because not only is the front door crucial to home security, if the key broke off while trying to unlock the door, whoever put the key in still presumably needs to get inside out of the heat.

So what to do?

There are a couple of different treks to take here, but start with step 1 no matter what:

Try removing the key from the lock

Needle-nose pliers are the #1 choice for this job, as they're the most similar to the tools that a locksmith will use when they come in to help. Avoid using glue if possible: dabbing a bit of superglue on the broken end of the key and hoping it attaches to the other one and works is a gamble.

If the needle nose pliers (or glue) works out spectacularly, the door should open allowing everyone inside, and to then call a locksmith and assess the situation with the lock. But, the chances of it going according to this script are pretty slim, and it's entirely possible that the key will be broken off and glued inside the lock.

Removed but not open

If you successfully removed the key without unlocking the door, the next step is to locate a spare key and very carefully use that to gain entrance to the home. Get inside, and assess whether the whole lock needs replaced or just the one key.

If the key is still stuck

Being stranded outside is incredibly frustrating, and the urge to kick the door down can be overwhelming. But don't do it! Breaking down the door can ruin the door frame and be even more costly than replacing the lock and the groceries.

Call a locksmith for help

Call a locksmith if the lock is for a home. Call the maintenance office if the lock is in an apartment building. Locate the spare key and try getting inside through the back door or other entrances. We recommend keeping the name and number of a trustworthy locksmith in your phone at all times because it's so easy and offers great peace of mind.

Replace the lock and key

After removing the key and unlocking the door, it's still a good idea to get the key and lock removed and replaced. Once something like this happens it is very likely that it will happen again and that the lock will be easier to pick in the event a burglar were to attempt to gain entry to the home. In fact, someone may have already tried which made the lock stick in the first place.

Home security is essential, and it all starts at the front door.

B1 Locksmith is an automotive, residential and commercial locksmith service offering emergency lockout and transponder key services in the Phoenix Valley. Several Valley locations. (844) 821-5625