A stuck key in the front door is most likely the “cherry on top” of your already stress-filled day. Even if you couldn’t do anything about the traffic jam that caused you to be an hour late, you can still take some fairly fruitful steps to get the stuck key out of the lock and safely back into your bag where it belongs.
Dealing with a stuck key is generally not that complicated, as long as it is still intact and there is Nothing Broken Inside The Lock Itself. The jamming might have been caused by any loose mechanisms inside the lock due to routine wear and tear. The sharper ridges on the new keys or even dents in the older keys can also contribute to having a stubbornly stuck key.
In such a case, applying brute force to yank it out can result in a broken key now stuck in the door. This will not only cost you money to call a locksmith to handle the situation but also waste your precious time and breath cursing the said key.
Keep calm and follow these easy fixes to get your stuck key out of its keyhole.
Plan 1 Press the Plug
Plan 1: Press the Plug
In pin-tumbler locks, the keyhole plug can sometimes come loose. This plug is part of the locking mechanism that includes the locking cylinder. The part of the plug that is accessible to you is the tiny circle that surrounds the keyhole with your key stuck in it. A loose plug can rotate just a little bit, but this movement is enough to stop the pins from aligning, making it harder to get the key out.
To fix this situation, you can perform an easy trick.
Press the key into the hole as far as it can go.
Now gently turn the keyhole back to the position it was in when you put the key inside it. This position is the one where the pins realign inside the lock.
Now, using the other hand, press the plug face (which is visible beside the key) firmly; so that it does not move again.
Pull out the key using gentle pressure.
The pressure applied to the plug from the front stops it from moving along with the key and usually helps the key dislodge itself from the keyhole.
Plan 2: Lubricate it
Plan 2: Lubricate it.
In case the stabilization does not do the trick, it is time to bring out the lubrication. Besides the free-moving plug, the other culprit that is the most common cause of stuck keys is new but inferior-quality key duplicates.
To deal with this, grease the lock using an easy-to-use spray lubricant like WD-40. Most grease spray cans come equipped with straw nozzles that are intended for use in tighter areas, like the keyhole. When spraying WD-40, keep a few pointers in mind.
Point the straw nozzle from above the stuck key right into the keyhole.
After greasing the lock, wiggle the key a bit in an up and down motion to help grease reach all the crevices inside the keyhole. Now pull out the key, still moving it in the same manner, to help dislodge it.
Once you have liberated your key, check it closely for any burrs or sharp edges and file them yourself or ask a professional to do it for you to avoid future inconveniences.
Plan 3: Extraction of the broken key
Plan 3: Extraction of the broken key
Despite your best efforts, your strength gets the better of you. You managed to break the key by twisting and pulling on it excitedly. There are still a few tricks you can try to pry out the key stub from your keyhole.
1. Scenario # 1
If you are a tool enthusiast and have a pair of needle-nose pliers in your collection, you can try the following trick: First, grease the lock liberally with any lubricant like WD-40. Then pull out the pliers and grab the visible part of the stub and try to pull it out more gently this time.
2. Scenario # 2
If you can’t get a good grip on the stub with your pliers after applying the grease, it’s because there isn’t enough of the metal portion peeking out of the keyhole. You need to make a quick trip to the nearest supermarket to get a Broken Key Extractor Kit. This kit is usually under $10 and will help you in the future.
Choose the correct-sized extractor tool from the kit to match your key. Next, look for the visible groves in the broken stub and slide your extractor inside the keyhole, flush with the grove. The trick is to make sure your extractor comes into complete contact with the whole key portion stuck inside.
Leverage the extractor a bit to make the markings on the extractor come into contact with the key and start pushing and twisting the extractor. The key stub will eventually start coming out by climbing up the extractor tool.
3. Scenario # 3
There is a chance that, after all this effort, the key remains resolutely inside. This time, do not waste further time and energy on it. It is time to Call a Professional Locksmith and get the key out and replaced, or get a new lock altogether.