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A Broken Key

It’s a winter night, and you just got to your home. You put the key into your lock, and it’s not working. This single situation is enough to ruin your whole night. In this kind of situation, you become clueless. Some prior knowledge can be of a lot of help in these kinds of scenarios.

Now, to know beforehand what to do and what not to do when your key is not working in the lock suddenly; keep on reading this article.

Reasons Your Key/lock Might Be Disfunctioning

The raised situation can be pretty frustrating, especially when you are getting home after a long day of work and just need some rest to get away from all the toils and turmoils of life. You take the key out of your pocket and put it inside the lock, and it’s not working. I can understand your pain, and that’s why I’m taking the liberty to explain the situation to you.

There can be a handful of reasons why your key or lock is not working.

Bent Or Dull Keys

One of the reasons why your key might not be working is because your key just might be dull or bent. This is quite a common scenario.

First of all, you have to keep in mind that keys are for opening locks only and nothing else. If you are using your keys to do anything other than opening the specific lock, you might be damaging your key.

A Broken Key

Using keys to cut through the tape binding of something, such as a package, could cause your key to bend. The act might seem harmless, but it can actually damage your keys. A bent key will no longer work in your lock.

Again, if your key has become dull, it’s not supposed to work anymore. If the tip becomes dull, it will not fit in your lock, causing it to be dysfunctional.

Blockage In The Lock Cylinder

If the cylinder of your lock is blocked by debris or anything else, your key might not work. The debris can eat up a sufficient space in your lock cylinder which will cause the key to no longer fit in the cylinder.

The blockage can cause by various reasons. Dirt and debris from your key can accumulate in your lock cylinder and cause the pins to get stuck in a partially raised position. Again it can also be intentional. Children can put something inside the lock, not being aware of the damage they are doing to the lock. Or someone can intentionally put something inside to sabotage your lock.

Dry Locks

When you enter the key in your lock, the pins move up to match the pattern of your key. But, it can be interrupted if the lock has become too dry.

Weather changes and consistent use of the lock can dry it up. Dryness means a lot of friction in the lock cylinder. This friction can cause the pins not to move correctly. If the pins become too dry, it is possible for them to move to the side instead of moving up or not to move at all.

In such a situation, the key won’t turn even if it fits perfectly in the lock.

Broken Key In Lock

It is a very common problem in our day-to-day life. When you’re low on time and lock your door in a hurry, there is a possibility that you are going to break the key inside the lock.

Firstly, you won’t be able to open the lock using the broken key. Again, if broken parts of the key remain inside the lock, you will not be able to open them even if you are using a new key because the broken parts of the previous key will eat up enough amount of space in the lock for your new key to fit in it.

So, always take your time while locking your doors, as not giving attention to it can cost you way more time.

You Are Not Using The Right Key

Sometimes the hardest problems have the simplest solutions. If you are trying over and over to open your lock and it isn’t working, just take a second and check if you are using the right key.

It’s as common as forgetting your glasses on your forehead and trying to find them all over the house. Keep calm and try to handle the situation delicately.

Worn Out Pin Chamber

If you are using a lock for a great amount of time, it is possible for the pin chamber in the lock to just wear out. Consistent usage of the lock, dirt, and dust debris can cause this problem.

Everything has an expiry date, and it is quite normal for your lock mechanism to become too old and wear out. In this case, you will have to change the lock.

Misalignment Of Latch Bolt

Sometimes the key won’t turn inside the lock if there is a problem with the alignment of the latch bolt and the strike plate of the door frame. This problem is more common with the UPVC door and the multi-point door lock.

Multi-point door locks are becoming more and more popular among homeowners as well as business owners as these locks provide more security and are aesthetically pleasing as well. In this case, there are multiple bolt latches in the lock which go inside the equally numbered holes in the strike plate of the door frame.

Now, if the bolt latches and strike plate are not properly aligned, the lock will not work. This kind of scenario happens because of problems with the mechanism of the lock and can be pretty challenging to repair.

The Solutions

Lock problems can be pretty common in our daily life. So you need to be able to identify the problems and act on them. To be frank, in most cases, you will not be able to fix the problem on your own and will need the help of a professional locksmith. But the goal is to be able to fix the minor problems on your own.

Clear Out Debris

Clearing Out Debris In Key Cylinder Lock

Most of the time, the lock problems in your household causes because of the gathered debris in the cylinder of the lock. These problems can be solved in very little time.

Take a flashlight and point it on the cylinder of the lock. You can also use the phone light to do this. Check if there’s any debris blocking the lock. You should find a thin stick that should be sturdy enough. Insert the stick into the lock to clear out the debris. Bobby pins or metal strings could work well in this case.

Apply Lubricant

The pins in the lock can get such because of dryness. If the locks have become dry, you could spray lubricant into the locks.

The best kind of lubricant for locks is a dry lubricant. Teflon (PTFE) or graphite should be the perfect choices. You could also use WD-40, which should be available on Amazon.

Fix Your Key

If the reason your lock is not working is a dull or bent key, then the solution is repair or replacement in some cases.

Call a professional locksmith to repair your key. A locksmith has the tools required to bend the key to its original shape. You can try sharpening the tip of your dull key. But if it doesn’t work, maybe it’s time to call a locksmith.

Moreover, avoid damaging your keys in the first place by not using them for anything other than opening your lock. You should also be careful while using the key to unlock your door lock to make sure it’s not broken.

Blow Air Into The Lock

Dust particles can get inside your lock and dry it out. It can cause your lock to stop working properly.

Try blowing air into the lock with your mouth to remove any dust. If your breath is not enough, you could also buy a can of compressed air. These things come with extended tubes nowadays to help you blow directly into the lock.

Take Professional Help

Locks can cause disfunction in various ways. Dull or bent keys, corroded pin, problems with the alignment of the latch bolt, debris, dust, and so on.

If your problem is not solved after following the above-mentioned ways, you should probably call a reputable locksmith. If the key turns, but the lock is still not working, then there must be some problems with the internal mechanism of the lock.

Contact Fast Locksmith Seattle at 206-201-1081 for professional locksmith service. We are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Elmer Harrison
Article Written By Elmer Harrison
I'm Elmer Harrison, and I'm the owner of Fast Locksmith in Seattle. My company is a family business that provides locksmith services to residential, commercial, and automotive customers. Since 1990, I've worked as a locksmith. Before establishing my own company, I worked for another locksmith company for a few years. My father eventually became a partner in this business, which made him happy to assist his son in succeeding at anything he loved doing!
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