Most home door locks are mechanical. There are some exceptions in these times for smart homes and programmable locks, but most of us have the old-fashioned locks that require metal keys. Like all mechanical things, locks and keys develop wear and eventually, therefore, problems – like the key stuck in the door. This is frustrating if you’ve unlocked the door and have made it inside because you don’t want to leave that key outside. But it is even worse if you are outside and cannot get inside!
There are some answers to your problem, however. We have some ideas for how to get a key out of a door. First, gently giggle the doorknob, or use the knob to lift or pull the door if the key is stuck in the deadbolt. Sometimes this will relieve pressure on the key and will allow it to be extracted.
If you are the handy sort of person who has a can of WD40 or graphite lubricant in your vehicle, then squirt it into the keyhole along the key, wait for a ten count and then gently (emphasis on the gently) wiggle the key in the lock. Often this will allow you to extract the key. If you are inside your home, you can then go on in and call the landlord, a locksmith or run down to the hardware and pick up a new lock. One of those little-known things about mechanical items is that once they develop a problem, that problem is only going to get worse.
Another possible solution is to apply heat or cold to the lock. Hot weather can cause the metal to expand, which can cause problems with mechanisms, especially if they have not been oiled regularly (that WD40 or graphite might solve your sticking key problem for quite a while.) If the weather is cold and you have a key stuck in door, use a hairdryer, heating pad or a hot water bottle on the lock. This can also help if the real problem is that moisture has gotten into the lock and frozen there. If the weather is hot, put some ice in a plastic bag (that left-over soda ice in the cup you bought on the way home will do) and hold that on the lock a few minutes before trying the key again. It will serve to shrink metal parts that have expanded in the heat of the day.
The one thing you do not want to do is to force the key to turn or to put undue pressure on it. This can cause it to break off in the lock, making your problem even more difficult. To extract a broken key, you can attempt to gently grasp it with a pair of pliers – the needle-nosed variety work best for this. The next best thing is to run to the local hardware or department store and purchase a key extractor kit. These come in various formats, but they share the ability to gently release the tumbler fingers from the key and allow the key that is stuck in the lock to be removed.
If you don’t know how to get a key out of a lock, call a locksmith. Removing a key stuck in door locks is part of their stock in trade, along with opening car doors when the key is locked inside the vehicle. Chances are, the locksmith will have one of those handy key extractor tools in his or her professional tool bag. The locksmith might request identification, will certainly want to be paid, and you are probably going to have some waiting time before professional help arrives. These things make it worth your while to try the DIY remedies first.
Let’s run through those steps on how to get a key out of a door one more time: Gently press or lift on the doorknob, jiggle the key gently. Spritz the lock with lubricant. Apply heat or cold to the lock – depending upon the weather. Use a key extractor tool – especially if the key has broken off in the lock. When all else fails, call for professional Key Smiths help. Be prepared to show the locksmith identification, and be prepared to pay for his or her services.