The Importance of Re-Keying Your Home

Help! My Key Broke Off In My Door. Now What?

You get home after a long day at work, put the key in the lock, open the door and realize half of the key has broken off in the lock. If this has just happened to you, don't panic. In most cases, you can retrieve the broken piece of key and your original door lock should not need to be replaced. Here is what you should know about removing a broken key and getting a new key cut.

How Do I Get the Broken Piece Out of the Lock?

If your key broke after opening the door, you're in luck because you can probably remove the broken piece on your own. Otherwise, you will need to make a call to get the key out and door unlocked. If you can get inside your home, find a piece of metal that is preferably serrated and in a thin bladed shape. Follow these instructions for removing the broken piece of key:

  1. Look at how the key is positioned. You want to remove the key on the side with the teeth, not the smooth side.
  2. Slide the serrated part of the blade into the lock, on the side of the tooth edge of the key.
  3. Push gently until the teeth of the blade grabs onto the teeth of the key. Graphite powder or other lubricant can help get the blade in the lock.
  4. Slowly pull the blade out, continuously checking that the key is sliding out with it.

What if I Used a Skeleton Key?

Skeleton keys, also called master keys, rarely get stuck in door locks because of their simplistic design, though it is possible. If you had previously lost your house key and were using a skeleton key to unlock the door, you will not be able to use this method for removing it yourself. In this case, call a locksmith to help you remove the broken piece of key and repair the lock if necessary.

Do I Need to Replace the Lock?

In most cases, it is the key that had the issues, not the lock. Keys can become weakened over time from use, being tossed on counters, and from angling it wrong in the lock when opening the door. One good way to determine if the lock needs to be replaced is how your new key reacts to it. If after getting a replacement key, you have trouble fitting it in properly, it is time to change the lock.

Why Should I Get the New Key Cut by a Locksmith?

As you probably know, you can get keys cut just about anywhere, but that doesn't mean you should. Locksmiths use more advanced tools and techniques for cutting keys, as opposed to buying a simple cutting machine and letting the machine do the rest. They ensure the key is smooth, with no sharp edges.

This helps keep your door lock in good condition for a longer period of time, without causing scratches or scores inside the lock. When you get your new key cut from a locksmith, you are actually preventing the key from breaking in the lock in the future.