Broken Key Extraction - 24-Hour Emergency Locksmith in Durham

Anthony |10th June, 2024
Emergency locksmith services in Durham by AD Locksmithing

In this case study, I will share an incident where my emergency locksmith skills in Durham were tested. A homeowner discovered me on Instagram thanks to a previous customer who had shared their positive experience with AD Locksmithing. The homeowner contacted me after getting into a broken key situation. With broken keys in two different locks. Their last spare house keys were in the front door lock, which left it unable to lock securely.

Technical Challenges and Solutions

A broken key extraction can range from straightforward to quite complex. Sometimes, the broken piece sticks out enough to hook it with the right tools, like needle nose pliers or key extractor tools. Unfortunately, this time, the broken key was lodged deep inside, and pins blocked the way. This required a meticulous approach to pressing down the pins and hooking the fractured piece out carefully with a broken key extractor tool.

The first step is to extract the broken keys, then pick the euro cylinder locks to allow its extraction, and then replace the door locks so they have spare keys and help prevent the key breaking again.

Lockout Emergency - A Broken Key Extraction

My goal is always to perform tasks non-destructively whenever possible. This approach not only saves the client from additional costs but also allows me to refine my key extraction skills.

Upon examining the locks, I noted that the broken key protruding from the front door lock, which allowed me to use key extractors and extract the broken key relatively easily.

However, the key in the back door lock was a different story. It had snapped off deep inside the cylinder, making the actual removal process more challenging.

Removing a key without Key Extractor Tools

I employed a technique for the second lock to extract the deeply broken key inserted into the euro cylinder. The homeowner had the second half of the broken key, which proved advantageous. By inserting this remaining piece into the cylinder, the lock could still be turned as if using a whole key. This clever workaround facilitated the extraction process.

Firstly, I removed the retaining screw from the lock. This screw is essential as it holds the cylinder in place. I could free the cylinder for extraction by carefully unscrewing and removing it. With the cylinder now accessible, I used both broken parts of the key to manoeuvre and extract the cylinder. This involved a precise and careful operation to ensure the cylinder could be removed without causing any additional damage to the lock or door.

Once the cylinder was out, I employed a simple but effective method to remove the deeply stuck broken key piece. By tapping the cylinder on the ground, the force helped dislodge the broken key fragment. This method worked perfectly in this scenario. With the broken piece finally removed, I could proceed with the lock replacement.

This approach not only resolved the immediate lockout emergency but also highlighted the handiness of having both parts of a broken key. It allowed for a non-destructive extraction, preserving the integrity of the lock and door.

Lock Change

Once the locks were picked, I replaced the cylinders with new ones, ensuring the homeowner could lock their doors again.

First, I selected a new lock that matched the specifications of the existing lock. It’s important to choose the right size and type of cylinder to ensure compatibility and security. Once I had the correct cylinder, I removed the old one by unscrewing the retaining screw located on the edge of the door. This screw holds the cylinder in place and must be completely removed to allow the cylinder to slide out.

Next, I carefully inserted the new cylinder into the lock. This step requires precision to ensure that the cylinder aligns perfectly with the lock mechanism. Any misalignment can cause issues with the lock’s functionality. Once the cylinder was in place, I secured it by reinserting and tightening the retaining screw. It’s crucial to ensure the screw is tight enough to hold the cylinder firmly but not too tight to avoid damaging the screw or the lock.

After securing the new cylinder, I tested the lock with a new set of keys. This step is vital to confirm that the lock operates smoothly and securely. I checked that the key turned easily and that the lock engaged and disengaged without any resistance. This thorough testing process ensures that the homeowner can rely on their newly installed lock for their security.

A Satisfied Customer in Durham

The homeowner was immensely relieved to have their lockout emergency resolved so swiftly. They were particularly impressed with the non-destructive methods I used, which preserved the integrity of their doors and locks. The successful resolution of this lockout emergency not only reinforced their trust in AD Locksmithing but also highlighted the importance of having a reliable 24-hour emergency locksmith in Durham.

What Causes a Key to Break?

Keys breaking in locks is a common issue that can lead to lockout emergencies, and understanding the causes can help prevent such incidents. Several factors contribute to keys breaking, ranging from wear and tear, extreme key bitting to user error.

Wear and Tear

Over time, keys undergo significant wear and tear due to regular use. As keys are inserted and turned in locks repeatedly, they gradually weaken. The metal can wear down, making the key more susceptible to bending and breaking. This is especially true for keys made from softer metals, which are more prone to wearing out quickly.

Excessive Force

Using excessive force to turn a key is a common cause of key breaks. When a lock is stiff or difficult to turn, applying too much pressure can cause the key to snap inside the cylinder. This often happens in cold weather when locks freeze or when dirt and debris accumulate inside the lock, making it harder to turn.

Poor Quality Keys

Keys made from low-quality materials are more prone to breaking. Cheaply-made keys can have manufacturing defects, such as weak spots or uneven metal distribution, which make them less durable. Investing in high-quality keys can reduce the risk of breakage.

Old or Damaged Locks

Locks themselves can also be a contributing factor. Old, rusted, or damaged locks can put additional stress on keys. When a lock's internal mechanism is not functioning smoothly, it can create resistance that increases the likelihood of a key breaking when turned.

User Error

Simple user error is another frequent cause. Incorrectly inserting the key, turning it the wrong way, or using the wrong key entirely can all lead to breakage. Ensuring that keys are used properly and match the corresponding locks can help prevent this issue.

Understanding these common causes of key breakage can help in taking preventive measures. Regular lock maintenance, using high-quality keys, and avoiding excessive force are simple yet effective ways to reduce the risk of keys breaking and causing lockout emergencies.


This case study demonstrates the importance of professional locksmith services in handling emergencies. Whether it's lost keys, simple key extraction, or a complex lockout situation, AD Locksmithing is committed to providing swift and reliable solutions to ensure the safety and security of your home.

For more stories like this and to learn about my full range of services, follow me on Instagram and stay updated with the latest from AD Locksmithing. If you need any locksmith services in Durham, don't hesitate to get in touch with me. My commitment to non-destructive techniques and customer satisfaction ensures that your lock issues will be resolved quickly and efficiently.

 | Updated: 10th June, 2024

Locksmithing,Emergency Locksmith,Snapped Key