The typical key to a lock has two parts. The part that opens the lock and has a complementary fit with the lock. The key’s toothed part can unlock the lock when rotated with proper force. However, the key also has a part that you can hold in your hands while using the key.
The two parts of a key are molded to each other, and if the front part remains stuck in the lock and the top part breaks, it is nothing less than a disaster. If you have landed in such a disaster, it will be prudent to hire a locksmith immediately. Here are a few tricks that you may try by yourself.
Things To do When You Have A Broken Key Stuck To The Keyhole
1. Do Not Try To Unlock The Door With The Remnants Of The Key
Most people make the mistake of trying to unlock the door by twisting and turning whatever remnant of the key that they can lay their hands on. However, such an exercise is counterproductive.
If you try to maneuver the remnant of the key, you will end up pushing that part further inside the keyhole. If a small portion is jutting out, then that is a good thing, as you might be able to pull it out with a tweezer.
Also, it is important not to discard the broken piece as it is not useless. A locksmith might be able to remake a duplicate quickly if you hand over all the broken pieces to him.
2. Try Using A Lubricant
If the key has broken because it got stuck inside, then using a lubricant is the best way to remove it. You can either use a dry lubricant like a graphite spray. A spray will be easier to apply, and the graphite will make sure that dust and dirt do not build up around the broken part.
However, the main disadvantage of using a graphite spray is that it will leave dark stains all over. Alternatively, you can use an oil-based lubricant like grease. If you are using an oil-based lubricant, position the nozzle of the tube properly or else it will lead to a messy situation.
However, at times something like grease may not be useful for removing the broken bit as your hands will also become slippery. If you do manage to remove the broken part after using the lubricant, then you must use a paper napkin or a tissue towel to remove the excess oil or graphite.
Also, it is better to use a pair of pliers to remove the broken part instead of using your bare hands. A pair of pliers will have a better grip, and hence removing a tiny broken part with a pair of pliers will be easier.
3. Try To Gathers Things Like Tweezers Or A Forcep
If you can get hold of a tweezer or tiny forceps, your job should become easier. A tweezer or forceps will be useful as they act as tiny pincers that can grab and remove the broken piece that has blocked your keyhole.
However, make sure that the tweezer or the forceps is of the right size so that it slips in smoothly into the keyhole. A thick tweezer or forceps head will not be of any help as it will push the broken piece further in.
4. Try To Make The Broken Piece Longer
One of the main reasons why you cannot remove the broken part is because the remnant that juts out is too small to maneuver. So if you have a matchstick and strong adhesive in your handbag, you can try to make the broken piece longer.
You just have to carefully stick the part that is jutting out to the matchstick. However, the glue should be strong so that the attachment is firm. Also, give time for the glue to dry up. If you start pulling when the glue is still wet, it will definitely snap off.
However, it is not a fullproof method, and most of the time, things will be back to square one if the glue is not strong.
5. Call A Locksmith
If a tweezer or a lubricant fails to be of any use, then you need to call a locksmith. If you have your phone with you, then calling a locksmith should not be difficult. However, do explain your problem and call a person who has good reviews online.
Also, when you are hiring a locksmith, it is better to go for a reliable person. So see if you can get a referral from a friend or a relative. Also, check his identity cards before you let him handle your lock.
A locksmith will most probably use a key extractor to help you out. The extractor has a design that is complementary to the toothed portion of your key. So when the extractor fits in properly against the broken edge, it can remove it. After the extractor has been fitted properly, the locksmith will rotate the extractor and pull it out to clear the keyhole.
However, you must be patient while the locksmith is doing his job, as the extractor will take several attempts before the job is finally done. An extractor has to match the part that is stuck inside, a locksmith usually has several standard designs, but he will not have the exact complement for your key.
So it is a trial and error process, and you must be patient when the locksmith tries out different combinations.
Being locked outside your home is a nightmare, but you must not panic. You should be calm and take decisions only after you have analyzed the pros and cons. If you try to pull out the broken fragment in a hurry or if you insert anything else in the keyhole, you may complicate matters further. Also, feel free to consult a professional if you cannot handle the situation yourself.