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My key is stuck in the door lock and won't come out. I have tried numerous ways and it just won't. Any ideas on how to get it out or what can be done?

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  • Is the key stuck at that angle, or does it rotate at all? – keshlam Apr 20 '16 at 15:27
  • It is stuck at an angle – JStorage Apr 22 '16 at 4:54
  • Is that one of those "rekeyable" locks? I see those two dots are aligned in your pic, this would be the position for rekeying it with the master key. Could be a problem with that... – dotjoe May 4 '16 at 15:46
  • @dotjoe explain more. I don't know if it is rekeyable but interested in your thoughts. – JStorage May 4 '16 at 15:50
  • Quickest might be removing deadbolt from the door and have a locksmith or hardware store pull the pins and free it. Twisting it too hard might damage the inside of the cylinder or if a pin has come too far out, mangle the spring. Might be time to get a new key too, if it is too worn as it could have caused this issue. – RomaH May 4 '16 at 15:50
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Don't laugh, this may work as I have used it on stuck or cross-threaded bolts and locks. Remember that heat makes metals expand, while cold makes metals contract. Looks like the usual 5-pin tumbler lock.

I do not know how the key is stuck, but brass is a soft metal. After long term use the surface can becomes rounded and not move the tumblers correctly. The tumblers could be stuck from dirt or other contaminants.

Try oiling the key first by forcing WD-40 or a light motor oil into the lock and tap the key lightly with a small hammer. This will normally loosen a stuck pin tumbler. Next step is to by freeze-spray and freeze only the key. This will make the key shrink a tiny bit.

Wiggle the key and latch to try and jar the pin tumblers loose. Brass is not brittle when cold but do not use enough power to break the key. I am assuming someone did not play a dirty prank and put super-glue inside the lock. Even so, oil, freezing and heating will make the key loosen up, even if it takes a few hours.

  • For sure this was not a prank. We started having the issue but were able to get the key out. One fine day it refuses to come out. Will try out your suggestions – JStorage Apr 21 '16 at 22:17
  • @JStorage. That's the way it usually happens. No warning - it just gets stuck. Once the WD-40 has had time to settle in, I would not use any more force than pulling and wiggling the key with pliers, pushing in and pulling out. As I mentioned in my answer, brass is tough but has its limits. Use 50-weight motor oil for a long term lube. It stays in place and will not turn into a hard powder like graphite can. – user51490 Apr 22 '16 at 0:13
  • Strong disagreement re oil on something whose tolerances are measured in thousandths of an inch, but that's the religious debate again and people believe what they want to believe. – keshlam Apr 22 '16 at 7:41
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(can't see the images as I am at work) I had a key get stuck in a lock half rotated once. I forget exactly what happed. I believe it has something to do with ability to set the lock for a different key, one of the pieces got jammed. I ended up disassembling the entire lock and reassembling.

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After trying all the great suggestions above and failing, I ended up calling a locksmith. He fixed it in 15 minutes by taking the lock apart. As it turned out, one of the pins in the 6-pin lock was tilted and not letting the barrel move. That was it. Hopefully, this answer will help someone else in a similar situation

  • Did you need to change the lock? Or was it possible just to repair the lock? – zud Jan 9 '18 at 15:32
  • Nope. The locksmith adjusted/aligned the pins and that's all it took to fix it – JStorage Jan 10 '18 at 19:51
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There are several possibilities.

One, that everyone else has been pursuing, is that the lock cylinder itself is binding. If so, lubrication and/or vibration may help loosen it.

If you think it might have been super glued, you can try acetone, which dissolves cyanoacrylate glues -- but it may also dissolve the finish on the lock, and on the door, and on anything else it drips on. Personally I'd consider replacing the cylinder in that case.

Which brings us to the other possibile approach: Open the door from inside, and disassemble/dismount the lock far enough to remove the cylinder. If it turns freely by itself, the latch mechanism was jammed; check that the latch is engaging the strike without side pressure and is operating smoothly. If the cylinder still doesn't turn, you can get a replacement and worry about unsticking this one later, and/or bring the cylinder to a locksmith for assistance. Much cheaper than asking the locksmith to come to you, much easier than bringing her the whole door...

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Graphite lube is better than WD-40 for locks... try a product called lock-ease. Use a rubber mallet and whack it hard many times while turning and jiggling the key. Don't hit the key, when hammering. Keep turning-pressure on the key while hammering and jiggling.

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Edit-

You can use WD-40 in a pinch, if you don't have graphite, but you should then use copious amount of lock-ease to rinse out the oil or take the lock off the door out and rinse it with a solvent like acetone whithin a few months. Use graphite for lubricating locks, not oil or products like WD-40 which will collect dust and eventually dry, leaving a gummed up lock.

You should also get a new key cut, because the primary reason for keys getting stuck is that they have been worn down too low. Keys are basically "digital". So a new key should fit better.

Edit: If you have powdered graphite you may need to suspend it in isopropyl alcohol. A 5%-10% solution (by weight) should work, but measuring could be an issue, so another way to do this is to put some graphite in a baggie, and then add 90% isopropyl alcohol to it. Use as little alcohol as possible to make a suspension. The suspension should be runny enough to be sucked up with a dropper.

Where to apply lubricant:

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    Graphite is a better lubricant, and so is heavy motor oil, but this needed the rust and dirt cutting ability of WD-40 to start with. A good oiling comes after the lock is fixed. – user51490 Apr 20 '16 at 22:31
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    @Sparky256 Lock ease is made of light-weight alkanes, acetone, and graphite; it only leaves graphite as a residue. WD-40 leaves oil-gum, surfactants, and waxes which will mess up a lock. Locks rarely have rust issues because they are made of brass and stainless steel. Keys get stuck because they are either worn out or because of gums left from stuff like WD-40. The best way to clean up a lock that has been gummed up by WD-40 is to use something like lock ease which contains acetone, heptane, and octane, which will rinse out the gunk and leave only graphite behind. In an emergency, WD-40 is ok. – Ben Welborn Apr 21 '16 at 14:11
  • @sparky256 MSDS for lock ease: agscompany.com/images/stories/MSDS/English/… – Ben Welborn Apr 21 '16 at 14:12
  • @Sparky256 MSDS for WD-40: wd40.com/files/pdf/msds-wd482671453.pdf – Ben Welborn Apr 21 '16 at 14:12
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    @JStorage There are graphite sprays, and graphite powder in tubes. Powder would be more difficult to use with a key already in the hole, so if that is what you purchased, then I would recommend suspending the powder in isopropyl alcohol (90% preferable to 70%), and use a dropper or something with a narrow spout to apply the suspended graphite to the key hole. I will edit my answer to provide more exact details, shortly. – Ben Welborn May 4 '16 at 14:03

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