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How To Get a Key Out of a LockOctober 11th, 2022 by
Is your key stuck in your lock? While this can feel like a high-stress situation, it’s actually a common problem that you can usually fix on your own with a bit of time. From lubricating the key to using an ice cube, these simple steps explain how to get a key out of a lock. Plus, we explain why keys get stuck inside locks and the best methods for removing them in each situation.
How Do You Get a Key Out of a Lock?
If you find yourself in a situation where you have a key stuck in a lock, there are a few steps you can take to try to remove it. Here are some tips for getting a key out of a lock:
- Try wiggling the key: Push the key firmly into the lock, then gently giggle the key back and forth while you try to turn it in the lock to loosen the key. Sometimes just a little wiggle is enough to get the key out of a stuck lock.
- Lubricate the lock with oil: If the key is stuck due to a lack of lubrication, you can use a little oil to loosen it up. Simply spray a small amount of oil-based lubricant into the lock mechanism and let it sit for a few minutes before trying to remove the key again.
- Use graphite powder: As an alternative to oil, graphite powder is a dry lubricant that works just as well. It is available in spray cans, but you can also file down a pencil instead.
- Use needle nose pliers: Sometimes, you only need a little leverage to pull a key out of a stuck lock mechanism. Grip the key firmly with a pair of pliers and wiggle it side to side as you pull it out. However, avoid using too much force, or you could bend the key or break it off in the lock.
- Try an ice cube: It may sound weird, but sometimes you can get a stuck key out of a lock with an ice cube. Hold the ice against the key for 30 seconds, then wiggle the key out of the lock. The cold causes the metal to shrink just slightly and might be enough to pull the key free.
- Use a key extractor tool: If the key is still stuck, you can try using a key extractor. These specialty tools are designed to remove keys stuck inside locks and can be purchased at a hardware store or online. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to put it on the lock, then use the tool to gently pull the key out.
- Call a locksmith: If none of these methods are successful, you may need to call a professional locksmith to remove the key. A locksmith has the tools and expertise to remove stuck keys from locks without damaging them.
It’s important to be patient and gentle when trying to remove a stuck key from a lock. If you apply too much force or try to use tools that are too large or sharp, you could end up damaging the lock or the key itself. If you’re uncomfortable attempting to remove the key yourself, it’s always a good idea to call a locksmith for assistance.
Why Do Keys Get Stuck in Locks?
There are several reasons why keys can become stuck in a lock, but the two main causes are unlubricated locks and dirt in the keyway.
The parts in the lock need a small amount of oil to turn smoothly. Over time, the oil can dry up or mix with dirt and dust to form a stubborn paste.
Separately, dirt and debris can clog the keyway. While you might be able to get the key inside the lock, the blockage can make it hard to remove the key.
However, there are several other reasons your key is stuck inside the lock. Here are the most common causes:
- Locks need oil to turn smoothly. If that oil dries out, both the lock mechanism and the key can stick. Apply spray lubricants like oil or graphite powder to the keyway, then wiggle the key loose.
- Locks can become dirty, or debris can accumulate in the keyway, cause the key to get stuck on the lock pins. Wiggle it back and forth and spray compressed air into the keyway to remove the dirt and get the key out.
- Locks can become damaged or worn. As a result, the key can get stuck when it is inserted or removed. While you might be able to remove the key wit any of the methods above, you should call a locksmith or handyperson to replace the lock as soon as possible.
- The key itself may become bent or damaged, making it difficult to turn or remove from the lock. Use any of the steps above to get the key out, then use a hammer to straighten the key, or call a locksmith to make repairs.
- The lock and key may not be properly aligned, which causes it to get stuck when you push it in or try to pull it out. Again, follow the steps above to get the key out, then have the lock and key repaired or replaced.
- Although rare, the lock can freeze in cold weather, making it difficult to turn the key or remove it from the lock. Gently warm the lock with your breath or a lighter until the key pulls free. However, avoid using too much heat or boiling water, as this can damage the key and the lock.
If you cannot get the key out or it sticks inside your lock regularly, call a locksmith to repair it or have a handyperson install a new lock entirely.