How Do You Get a Stuck Key Out of a Door?

When your key gets stuck in the lock, it can be frustrating. You need to get it out or anyone has free access to your home, your office, or any other place that the door provides access for. It is important to know what you can do in this situation.

Normally, the key gets stuck in the door because the keyhole plug is loose or the locking mechanism needs lubrication. When the keyhole plug is loose, you can just hold the plug with one finger and pull the key carefully. Otherwise, you may need to spray appropriate lubricant to loosen it.

There are a couple of main tricks you can try when your key is stuck. Continue reading to learn how to get a stuck key out of a door.

Common Reasons A Key Get Stuck in a Door Lock And Solutions

While there could be various reasons why your key got stuck in your door lock, there are two main culprits locksmiths get calls on a daily basis: 1) the keyhole plug is loose and 2) it needs some lubricant.

The Keyhole Plug is Loose

The cylinder in a pin tumbler lock contains the keyhole plug where the key is inserted. When the keyhole plug is loose, it is often hard to open the door or take the key out.

When this is the cause of the problem, the solution is so easy that people often feel embarrassed when a locksmith gets to their home. This is what you need to do:

  • Make sure the key is in the initial position when you insert the key.
  • Push the plug (circle around the keyhole) and pull the key. It should come out fairly easy, but you may have to twist it a little. 

This video from Guardian Safe & Lock demonstrates how to do it and explains the logic behind it.

It Needs Lubrication

Another typical reason why your key may get stuck in a door lock is that the key may not have been a perfect copy, to begin with. Or it got worn out with usage and doesn’t perfectly match the tumbler pins.

The solution: spray some lubricant into the keyhole and pull the key as you twist it gently.

But which lubricant should you use? Most people are quick to recommend WD-40, but while it probably will work to get the key out, it is not ideal. WD-40 is an oil-based product that will attract dirt and grime and may make it worse in the long run.

Silicone-based lubricants seem to be the best thing to use in these situations. 

I wouldn’t blame you for using WD-40 if that is all you have at the moment. You certainly don’t want to go to Home Depot to get a better product and leave the key in the door while you are gone.

But just know that it is not the best. One time, I got a key working smoothly with olive oil. Not a joke. I am originally from Spain, and we put olive oil on everything, LOL!

I now know that it is not the best solution. Live and learn!

This video from TightWadDIY goes over this topic and shows us what to use and what not to use to lubricate a lock.

How Do You Get a Broken Key Out of a Lock?

Another way that a key can get stuck in a lock is if it breaks. This happens for different reasons. The key may be made of soft metal, or it may have already been damaged. Someone might pull hard when it is stuck. This is why it is important to always be gentle with the key if it is stuck.

If your key breaks in the lock, you need to deal with it right away. It can cause damage to the lock, and you may not be able to close or lock your door. If the door is closed, you might not be able to open it.

If any portion of the key is sticking out of the lock, you may be able to remove it yourself. You can try pinching it with your fingers, or you might need to grab your toolbox. A pair of needle-nose pliers should work.

However, if any part of the key is not sticking out, it will be more difficult to remove the key. You can try using a very small flathead screwdriver or similar tool. If you slip it in next to the key, it could loosen it. Then, use your pliers to draw it out. If all else fails, you need to call a locksmith.

This video from Billshowto shows different tools you can use to get the key out, including tweezers, a screw, a knife, and a fishing hook.

How to Prevent Keys From Getting Stuck

Most of the time, keys get stuck or break because people ignore the signs that the lock needs to be lubricated, tightened, or cleaned.

Make sure that you lubricate the lock every six months or so with a silicone-based lubricant spray. Your keys are exposed to a lot of wear and tear, so pay attention to their condition. You should replace them if they start to show signs of wear, and keep a second copy for emergencies.

When to Call a Locksmith

You always have the option of calling a locksmith as a backup plan. If you have tried different ways to gently loosen the key and remove it and they aren’t working, you should call a locksmith before you break the key.

It is easier to remove a key that is stuck than a key that is broken off. The locksmith will have experience and specialized tools to ensure that your key is removed and you gain access to the room behind the door.

Final Words

It can be distressing to find that your key is stuck in the lock, but there are a few different ways to try to get it loose. Make sure that you are gentle with the key so that it doesn’t break off. Try lubricant to get the key loose. If you do break the key, check to see if any of it is still showing. Try to pinch it with small pliers and gently wiggle it out. If you aren’t successful, it is time to call a locksmith to get the job done for you.

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