People get locked out of their homes for any number of reasons, but one of the more frustrating ways for it happen is having the key break inside the lock, because you can't even use a backup key to get in the house. Although it may seem like a lost cause at first, you may be able to get the broken part out of the lock so you can enter your home. Here's what you need to know.
Prepare the Lock
The first thing you should do is immediately stop what you're doing. Do not attempt to stick the remaining part of the key in the lock to see if you can get it to turn. This will only push the broken piece further into the mechanism and make it that more difficult to retrieve. Put the half you have in a safe place so you can get duplicates made once you get the broken part out of the lock.
The second thing you need to do is lubricate the lock using WD-40, graphite spray, or a similar product. This will make it easier to slide the key out of the device using one of the following methods. Lastly, get a pair of tweezers or pliers ready to grip the broken piece once you've exposed it enough to grasp.
Remove the Key
There are several ways to remove a broken key from a lock, but some methods are more accessible than others. One of the easiest things to try is to take a thin piece of metal (e.g. safety pin, paperclip), slip it alongside (or above) the key inside the lock, and attempt to pull it out using pressure and friction. As you can imagine, this will take quite a bit of manipulation. However, you only need to move the key out just far enough to grasp it with your tweezers or pliers, so it's definitely worth trying.
If you can go to the hardware store, your other option is to purchase a broken key extractor. This tool is a long think hook that many professional locksmiths use to remove keys stuck in locks. You stick it inside the lock whichever way the key's ridges are pointing and hook one of the ridges firmly enough to pull the broken piece out.
Like with the previous method, it may still take a little bit of maneuvering to get the key. However, it will be infinitely easier with the tool since it specifically designed to retrieve broken keys.
For help with this issue or to get your lock fixed, contact a local locksmith, such as those at Bilco Safe & Lock, Inc..