How to remove a broken key from your lock | Checkatrade
Review a Trade

Have you completed a project recently? Let your tradesperson know how they did.

Advice Centre

Get Inspired! Check the latest industry expertise and read insider tips from our vetted tradespeople.

Search For A Trade

We interview and vet all our tradespeople to ensure they meet our high standards.

Join Checkatrade

Join us and benefit from the millions of potential customers who use Checkatrade to find reliable tradespeople.

Advice Centre

Grow your business! Check out top tips and expert advice for boosting your reputation online.

Login To Your Account

Edit your profile, view callback requests and ask for feedback from customers.

How to remove a broken key from your lock

So your key has broken in the lock? Here’s a step by step on how to remove a broken key from your lock.

Having to remove a broken key from a lock is up there as one of the tasks we all hope we won’t ever have to do.

In this guide, we look at what to do and what not to do to remove a broken key from a lock.

Removing a broken key from a lock – security & safety first

Safety must always come first. If your key has broken in the lock, did this happen with the door locked or unlocked? If the door is locked and the key has snapped off with no part sticking out of the lock, then the lock is ever so slightly more secure, but understandably most people will not feel happy leaving it this way for any length of time.

If the key snapped off before locking the door then you should resolve the situation immediately.

In a situation where children or medication are inside a locked property and the key has broken, or you are in an emergency then it is advisable to call an emergency locksmith in your area to avoid any delay.

See the tradespeople we've checked and recommend for your job

How to remove a broken key from a lock

Tools you’ll need to remove a broken key from a lock

In an ideal situation, you would have a broken key extractor to hand. If you’re here reading this though, chances are you don’t. Not to self, buy or order one from your local hardware shop! The following tools and items will come in handy:

  • Spray Lubricant – ideally an oil-free, silicone-based spray
  • Pliers
  • Needle-nose tweezers or pliers
  • Jigsaw or hacksaw blade

If you don’t have an oil-free or silicone-based lubricant you can use WD-40 but it is not ideal and could result in clogging up the locking mechanism.

Other useful items:

  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Steel wire or paper clips
  • Bobbybin or hair grip

how to remove a broken keyRemoving the broken key from the lock

If you have a broken key extractor kit then now is the time to use it. There is usually an assortment of long thin tools in this kit to use to slide down the side of the key to help to pull it out.

If you don’t have a kit and you’re attempting to remove the key with the tools mentioned above then try the following:

If you can still see part of the key – spray some lubricant into the lock and using the pliers, pull on the exposed end of the key to try and pull it out.

Using super glue to stick something to the end of the key is the last resort so don’t attempt this unless you’ve tried other methods first.

If you can’t see part of the key – again, spray lubricant into the lock. Slide the hacksaw or jigsaw blade into the lock with the serrated edges pointing down and try to drag the key out of the lock. Depending on the size and shape of your hacksaw blade it can help to snap off the end part of the blade so you have a thin edge to insert into the lock.

If you don’t have a blade then you can attempt this with the needle-nose pliers or tweezers.

It may also be possible to try and use a flathead screwdriver to remove the broken key from the lock. If you have a flathead screwdriver that is small enough to fit into the keyhole, try inserting it in the lock.

You may be able to wiggle the screwdriver and pull it back towards you to loosen the key until you can see part of it emerging from the lock. Then you can use pliers to grab hold of the end of the key to remove the broken key from the lock.

If you have no luck with either of these methods after a couple of quick attempts then it is time to call a locksmith.

See the tradespeople we've checked and recommend for your job

What not to do when removing a broken key from a lock

  • Push the key in further
  • Use the wrong type or too much oil

This first point sounds very obvious, but in the moment when you might be panicking it’s easy to be too hasty and maybe even a bit clumsy. Take a moment to be calm, get your tools organised, and think through what you are going to do before rushing into it.

As mentioned above, WD40 is not recommended for removing a broken key in a lock, as too much oil can be counterproductive and actually clog up the locking mechanism.

how to remove a broken key from a door lockWhen to call a locksmith to remove a broken key from a lock?

  • The situation is time-critical or happens at night time
  • Your lock cylinder is complex – trying to remove yourself may damage the lock
  • If you don’t have the tools to try yourself or are worried about damaging your door or the lock.

Hopefully, this is common sense, but if you find yourself in an emergency situation or your key breaks in the lock in the middle of the night, then calling a professional locksmith is the sensible thing to do.

Some door lock cylinders can be complex and trying to save money by removing a broken key from a door lock by yourself may end up costing you more.

Get an idea of how much a locksmith could cost by reading our locksmith cost guide.


Why do keys break?

Keys can break for a few different reasons, the main one is wear and tear. After a lot of repeated use, the teeth on the key can get worn down and catch in the lock, causing it to snap.

How to maintain a door lock?

A poorly maintained lock can also cause a key to snap, so it is a good idea to spray a silicone-based lubricant into the lock every 6 months. If you find that you have to use extra pressure to insert the key into the lock then consider getting a new set of keys cut.

Other things that can affect your door lock that you should check a couple of times a year are

  1. Is your door hung correctly?
  2. Are the door’s screws and strike plates aligned?
  3. Test the latch and deadbolt.

Tell us what you think

Please leave your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

What others think of this article:

No comments yet!

Also in this project

Locksmith prices for 2023

If you need to replace or upgrade the locks in your home, or you get locked out of the house, a locksmith is often the best solution. In this guide, we look at the average locksmith prices in the UK a...

Read more
Car key replacement cost guide

Take a deep breath and relax. Our car key replacement cost guide has all the information, important factors and costs you need when your car keys are lost or broken....

Read more
Cost to rekey locks

We all want to feel secure in our homes, and door locks provide one of the main security features for a property. Keeping your locks in good working order is therefore important, but that doesn’t me...

Read more
How much does uPVC door lock replacement cost?

Read our helpful guide on uPVC door lock replacement costs. From lock types to locksmith costs we’ve got you covered with prices and money saving tips....

Read more