Understanding What A Locksmith Does

Your Options When A Key Breaks Off In Your House Lock

by Maëly Richard

Whether it's due to the strength of the key, or a stiff lock, sometimes keys can snap off while you're trying to unlock a door. Unfortunately, if the key breaks off inside the lock, it can be difficult to get out and there's no other way to get inside your home. Here are a few ways you can try to get the key out of your lock, or to get into your home. 

Pulling Out The Key

With any kind of luck, your key broke outside of the lock itself. Even so, though, there's a chance that there may not be enough of the key sticking out of the lock to pull it out with your fingers. If you have access to one, you can use pliers to pry the key out of the lock. However, if you're locked out of your home, you probably aren't carrying one with you! Try using a tweezer, instead. Most are narrow enough that they can clamp over the portion of the key that's sticking out, and then you should be able to pull the remainder of the key out.  

If It's All The Way In

Unfortunately, there aren't many choices if your key broke off completely inside the lock. While you might be able to shimmy a tweezer or needle-nose plier in there to pull the key out, you may also destroy the lock in the process, or at least damage it.

However, for the time being, you may still be able to get into your home. Look at the part of your key that isn't in the lock. If your part of the key doesn't have any of the grooves of the key that press the pin tumblers into the correct position, you may be able to manually turn the lock. Since the part of the key that's stuck in the lock has pushed the tumblers into their unlocked position, all you need to do is turn the lock manually to unlock the door. This can be done with a plier, the end of your key, or even the tip of another key. If you feel a lot of resistance, however, stop what you're doing and call a locksmith. The tumblers may not be in the unlocked position, and you could damage the lock.

Calling a locksmith is often a necessity when a key breaks off in the lock. In the future, never try to force a lock that is resisting the key turning. Try pulling up on the door knob, or pushing the door in or out to see if that makes the key turn more smoothly. If the lock sticks, or you feel like you can't get in without forcing the lock, call a locksmith for help so you don't end up in this situation again.