Key extraction

How frustrating - you have just come home from work or shopping, you put your key into the keyhole, and it breaks off or jams in the door lock. What on earth are you going to do now?
You really need to get somewhere in your car, but the key has jammed or broken in the door lock or the ignition. How do you get out of that predicament?

You are on your way out of the office, you need to securely lock the door, and find that you can’t because something has gone wrong with the lock. You can’t just leave the place unlocked, so where can you go to get help?

The answer to all these problems is simple: Call on the services of a reliable, professional, local locksmith. You need a time-served lock and key expert, who can come out to you quickly, extract the bent or broken key, or other debris jamming the lock, and make it possible to unlock and safely lock up again. The Rated Locksmiths site is the ideal place to search for such an expert - we have over 300 domestic, commercial and automotive lock experts, situated all across the UK, so there is always one of our locksmiths near at hand in an emergency.

Can I solve the problem myself?

First of all, if your key has broken off in a door lock or car ignition, never try to open it by forcing the two broken ends of the key together and turning it - it is unlikely to be successful. The end result could be that the broken part is pushed deeper into the mechanism, making it harder to remove, and you could damage the mechanism - this is especially true with an ignition key.

You may have seen key extraction tools advertised for sale - they claim to enable you to safely extract a broken key yourself. However, you need to be aware that key extraction is a skilled job, and if not done correctly can again cause damage to the internal workings of a lock.

A damaged lock mechanism will need to be replaced, so instead of simply paying for a key extraction, you could find yourself having to pay for a new lock, plus new keys too - which takes longer, costs more, and causes inconvenience all round.

It makes much more sense to leave the job to an expert from Rated Locksmiths - you will get the peace of mind of having a professional job done, and on the same day. Once our locksmith has extracted the broken key, you won’t need to get a new lock, and you can keep the old keys (apart from replacing the broken one). Many of our locksmiths offer a key replacement service there and then, on the spot. Total convenience.

What is involved in key extraction?

Our experienced locksmiths will have done this type of job many times before, and you can usually expect the whole process to take around half an hour.

The first job is for the locksmith to ascertain whether the damaged part of the key is visible and reachable. If so, using a pair of needle-nosed pliers, they may be able to gently pull out the broken part. Before attempting any key extraction however, the locksmith will usually lubricate the lock with a special lubricant. It is important to lubricate the lock because it (and the key) may have suffered corrosion due to weathering plus general wear and tear, so oiling it makes damage less likely during the extraction process.

If the broken key is not accessible using special pliers, the locksmith will use a professional key extraction tool. This is a tool which engages with the cuts on the edge of the key fragment, enabling it to be carefully pulled out of the keyhole. This is a delicate process, which sounds a lot easier than it actually is, and is one of the main reasons why we suggest you don’t try the DIY approach to key extraction.
Having carefully removed the broken part of the key, they will check that the mechanism is functioning properly. If you want a new key, the locksmith may be able to cut you one, either using the original key as a template, or if it is too damaged, using the key code (a set of characters which locksmiths use to cut a key). It’s also advisable to have an extra key cut at the same time, so your main key doesn’t get too worn with constant use.

Using a professional domestic, commercial or auto locksmith ensures that the integrity of your lock is not compromised - you can trust them to maintain the security of your building or car.

Why do keys break?

A broken key happens more often than you may realise, and not just due to the owner using brute force to try to open an unwilling lock or turn a stiff ignition. There are a number of factors that make it more likely to happen.

Sticking lock

Trying to force a lock that is unwilling to open often results in a broken or bent key. The way to avoid your locks becoming hard to open is to carry out regular lock maintenance. External locks are open to the elements - rain, snow etc, and can suffer corrosion and fill with gritty dust that causes the internal components to grind together. A regular oiling at least a couple of times a year with a light lubricant should avoid this problem, and make your locks operate smoothly all the time.

Worn key

Keys wear out with constant use, and depending on the type of key and the material it’s made from, some wear more quickly than others. It’s a good idea to get a spare key made and if your key shows signs of wear, start to use the spare, while you get another one cut. Temporary keys can often be made of lightweight material such as aluminium - these are certainly more open to excessive wear than a permanent key, so replace yours with a permanent key as soon as possible.

Depth of cut

The grooves and cuts along the working edge of your key will vary in depth and spacing - the sequence and depth is what makes each key unique to each lock. However, if by chance, your key has several deep cuts along the edge, it will be more susceptible to breakage than one with shallower cuts. You don’t have a choice when it comes to the depth and frequency of the cuts, but you can guard against future problems by keeping an eye on the condition of the key, and swapping to a spare if there are any signs of weakening, cracks or breaks.

At your home, office or the roadside

Our commercial, domestic and automotive locksmiths are available to come to you wherever you happen to be, whether it’s your car door, car ignition, house door or office door, our locksmiths can deliver key extraction services, quickly and cost-effectively. They are all experienced professionals, so you can rely on them to have the appropriate tools and techniques to get you out of any lock or key difficulties you may be in, without delay.

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