DIY Locksmith Tips to Gain Access to Your Home or Vehicle
If you find yourself locked out, then learn how to prepare the keyhole and gather the supplies you need to help you extract a broken key.
While the number one reason for calling out a locksmith is being locked out of a home or vehicle due to the loss of keys, it is equally frustrating for those who require assistance when their key has broken off in the lock. One minute your key is working fine, the next minute it’s snapped, and you’re left unable to gain entrance. So, what do you do? Although it’s difficult, try not to panic! A quick assessment of the situation will allow you to judge the best way to proceed.
If Your Key Has Snapped In Two
If there is a clean break and a part of your key is still in the lock with you holding the remainder, it may be tempting to push the rest of it in so that you can turn the key one last time. However desperate you are to gain entry, don’t give in to this idea. The best way to retrieve the broken key is if it’s in a shallow position and hasn’t yet been pushed too far in. Without anything obstructing the lock, you’ll be able to use a spare set to open the door and get a replacement key cut. Therefore, your best efforts should go towards removing the broken section of metal.
Preparing the Surface
A lubricated surface will make it easier to slide the extraction tools into the lock, and should gently encourage the broken key to move. This isn’t an essential step, but if you have time on your side, then it could really help to squirt or spray some WD40 or specialist lock lubricant. You can use kitchen roll to remove any excess liquid that sprays out of the lock; be aware that it may stain so be careful of your clothing and flooring. You should also have some tools to hand so that you’re able to grab the key if it becomes loose during the preparation stage.
Key Extraction Tools
A professional locksmith will use a specialist key extraction tool, and if you have chance to purchase one, then this is the best piece of equipment that you can use in such a task. However, most will need to make do with makeshift aids such as tweezers, safety pins, hair pins, a paper clip or a small jigsaw blade. The latter can be particularly effective as once the teeth of the blade come into contact with the cuts of the key, you should be able to push slightly downwards and back towards you to extract the broken metal.
Whatever tool you use, remember how important it is not to push the broken key in any further. You’re looking for something which can open wide enough to grasp around the outside of the key, but equally it must be thin enough to fit down the side of the metal to get a proper grip on it. This is where tweezers might be problematic as they’re often quite thick. A modified safety pin with the clasp broken off might be a better bet.
It’s understandable that you want to attempt to fix your lock by yourself, at least at first. However, if you do end up making the situation worse and are unable to recover the broken key, or alternatively if you need to gain access to your home or vehicle urgently, then it’s best to call out an emergency 24/7 locksmith for assistance. Some jobs are best left to professionals!