How to Open the Door If the Key Is Broken in the Lock: Tips from a Hammersmith Locksmith

Closeup of a professional locksmith installing a new lock on a house exterior door with the inside internal parts of the lock

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where your key breaks inside the lock, leaving you locked out of your own home or office? It can be a frustrating experience, but don’t worry; there are ways to handle this predicament. In this article, we will guide you through the steps to open a door if the key is broken in the lock. These tips have been shared by experienced locksmith Hammersmith, and they can help you regain access to your property without causing further damage. So, let’s dive in and learn how to handle this unexpected situation effectively.

Understanding the Lock Mechanism

Before we delve into the techniques of opening a door with a broken key, it’s essential to understand the basics of a lock mechanism. Locks come in various types, such as pin tumbler locks, wafer locks, and disc-detainer locks. Each type has its own unique way of functioning, but they all consist of common components like the keyway, pins, springs, and a plug. When the correct key is inserted, it aligns the pins inside the lock, allowing the plug to rotate and unlock the door.

Assessing the Situation

When you find yourself in a situation where your key breaks in the lock, the first and most important thing to do is to remain calm. Panicking can cloud your judgment and make the situation worse. Take a moment to analyze the lock and the broken key. Identify the type of lock you are dealing with. Is it a traditional pin tumbler lock or a more advanced lock system? Inspect the key and the lock to assess the extent of the damage. This initial assessment will help you determine the best course of action.

Removing the Broken Key

Once you have assessed the situation, it’s time to remove the broken key from the lock. To do this, you will need a set of tools specifically designed for this purpose. One such tool is a broken key extractor, which has a hooked end to catch the key’s teeth and allow for its extraction. Before using the extractor, it’s advisable to lubricate the lock with a penetrating oil or graphite powder. This lubrication helps reduce friction and makes the extraction process smoother. Insert the broken key extractor into the lock and gently pull it towards you until the broken key comes out.

Unlocking the Door Without a Key

If you are unable to extract the broken key or don’t have access to a broken key extractor, there are alternative methods to unlock the door. One popular technique is using a credit card. Choose a flexible card, such as a library card or an expired credit card, and insert it between the door and the frame at the level of the latch. Wiggle the card while pushing the door handle or knob, applying slight pressure to release the latch and open the door.

Another method is using a screwdriver or a paperclip as makeshift tools. Straighten the paperclip or use a thin screwdriver and insert it into the lock. Gently wiggle and twist the tool while applying slight pressure on the lock pins. With the right technique, you may be able to simulate the action of a key and unlock the door. However, these methods should only be used in emergency situations, as they can cause damage to the lock or the door.

It’s important to note that if you are unsure about using these techniques or if you encounter any resistance while trying to unlock the door, it’s best to seek professional assistance. Calling a reputable locksmith in your area, such as a locksmith in Hammersmith, can ensure that the door is opened safely and without causing further damage.

Preventing Future Lockouts

To avoid future lockouts and the hassle of dealing with broken keys, it’s wise to implement preventive measures. One effective solution is to have spare keys available. Keep a spare key with a trusted friend or neighbor, or consider using a key lockbox in a secure location. Additionally, having duplicate keys made can provide you with backup options in case of emergencies.

Another modern solution is the use of keyless entry systems. These systems eliminate the need for physical keys by utilizing electronic keypads, fingerprint scanners, or smartphone apps to unlock doors. Keyless entry systems offer convenience, enhanced security, and eliminate the risk of broken keys.

Tips from a Hammersmith Locksmith

As professional locksmiths in Hammersmith, we have encountered numerous cases of broken keys in locks. Based on our experience, we would like to share some additional tips:

  1. Importance of Professional Assistance: While it’s possible to attempt to open a lock with a broken key yourself, it’s advisable to seek professional assistance. Locksmiths have the expertise, tools, and knowledge to handle various lock situations effectively and without causing further damage.
  2. Common Mistakes to Avoid: When dealing with a broken key, avoid using excessive force to remove it or attempting to unlock the door with sharp objects that may damage the lock. These mistakes can worsen the situation and result in costly repairs.
  3. Maintenance and Care for Locks: Regular maintenance and care can prolong the lifespan of your locks. Apply a silicone-based lubricant to the lock periodically to ensure smooth operation. Avoid using oil-based lubricants as they can attract dust and debris, leading to lock malfunction.


Finding yourself in a situation where your key breaks inside the lock can be frustrating and inconvenient. However, by remaining calm and following the techniques shared in this article, you can successfully open the door and regain access to your property. Remember to assess the situation, remove the broken key using appropriate tools, and if necessary, employ alternative methods to unlock the door. It’s always advisable to seek professional assistance when in doubt or if you encounter any difficulties during the process.


Can I open a lock with a broken key myself?

While it’s possible to open a lock with a broken key yourself, it requires the right tools and techniques. It’s recommended to seek professional assistance to ensure a safe and effective solution.

What should I do if the broken key is stuck inside the lock?

If the broken key is stuck inside the lock and you’re unable to remove it, it’s best to call a professional locksmith. They have the necessary tools and expertise to handle such situations.

Is it possible to unlock a door without damaging the lock?

Yes, it’s possible to unlock a door without damaging the lock by using appropriate tools and techniques. Professional locksmiths are skilled at opening locks without causing unnecessary damage.

How can I find a reliable locksmith in my area?

To find a reliable locksmith, you can ask for recommendations from friends, family, or neighbors. Additionally, you can search online for locksmiths in your area and read customer reviews to gauge their reputation and reliability.

What are the signs that my lock needs replacement?

Signs that your lock may need replacement include difficulty in turning the key, frequent jamming, or visible signs of wear and tear. If you experience any of these issues, it’s advisable to consult a locksmith for an assessment and potential replacement.