You arrive home, insert your key into the door, go to turn it, and the key snaps. Half of your key is in your hand, the other half stuck inside your lock. Stay calm. Broken keys are a fairly common occurrence and aren't the end of the world. Follow the steps below to handle your broken key as quickly, easily and efficiently as possible. In some cases, you may be able to remove the broken section of key yourself. In others, calling for the help of a professional locksmith will be the best solution.

Assess the situation

Before you take action, it's important to take a step back to assess your options. Don't be tempted to shove the rest of your key into the lock, however, as this can push the broken section of key deeper into the lock, making it much harder to extract. The method you use to remove the broken key will depend on several factors. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How deep is the broken section of key inside the lock?
  • Is the broken part of the key still visible?
  • Do I have any thin metal tools that could be helpful in removing the key? These could be tweezers, a Swiss army knife, a hair pin or paperclip.
  • Do I feel confident about removing the key myself?
  • Is there a local emergency locksmith I could call?

By answering these questions, you'll get a better idea of whether or not you should attempt to tackle removal yourself or call a locksmith. Read on for more details on each of these options.

Attempt to remove the key yourself if possible

There are several methods which can be successful when removing broken keys. They may involve some trial and error, so don't be disheartened if you don't see results straight away.

Tweezer method. Using a pair of tweezers, attempt to grip the broken section of key and carefully remove from the lock. Thinner tweezers will usually work better; be sure not to push the key further into the lock.

Superglue method. Take a thin piece of metal, like a straightened paperclip, and attach a glob of super glue to the end. Insert into the lock until touching the key, wait for the glue to dry and then pull. The key should slide out of the lock.

Pull method. Place two thin pieces of metal on either side of the key, then gently pull out, applying pressure to each side.

Hire a locksmith

It's always best to hire a professional when possible. A local locksmith will use a professional key extraction tool to carefully remove the broken key from the lock. They'll also be able to create a new key to replace your broken one, and inspect the lock for any damage.