How To Remove A Stuck Key

Thumb On Plug

Before we tell you exactly how to remove a stuck key, wouldn’t it be nice to understand why your key is stuck in your lock? The answer to that is in many parts because there are many different lock cylinders and the reasons are different for each of them.

Let’s first have a look at the rim lock cylinder. The rim lock cylinder is usually associated with a garage door type of lock. It can also be found in other applications as well like night latches. The cylinder plugs on these are held together a little differently than the other types of lock cylinders. With a rim cylinder, the plug is usually held into the housing with a horseshoe clip. Due to its design, there is no adjustment that can be made to compensate for a worn lock cylinder. If your key is stuck in this type of cylinder then the cylinder needs to be replaced. The only other reason that we could see would be if the lock cylinder was Master Keyed and a thin wafer like Master Pin came dislodged from a cylinder chamber and situated itself between the lock plug and the lock housing. In either case it is definitely rim cylinder replacement time.

With a Mortise lock cylinder the plug is secured to the lock housing by the use of a cam that sits at the rear of the lock cylinder. The cam is held onto the lock plug by two screws. The cam stops the lock plug from being pulled out of the housing when the key is removed from the lock. This type of lock cylinder which is usually associated with today`s storefront aluminum type doors. What usually happens with these is that the two screws that keep the cam at the rear of the lock cylinder from being pulled out have likely loosened up and backed part way out of the plug. Since things no longer line up within the lock cylinder your key gets trapped in the lock cylinder plug. The best thing to do in this situation, especially if you are not familiar with the lock set would be to call a security professional to deal with this situation on your behalf.

The third type of lock cylinder is a little bit different than the first two mentioned. A standard pin tumbler lock cylinder most commonly found in today’s deadbolts is slightly different again. With this type of lock cylinder the lock cylinder plug is held in place and stops the plug from coming out with the key by using an end cap which is screwed on. The cap is held in place by a pin that is driven up into the cap by a spring. With this type of lock cylinder if the spring fatigues then it is possible for the end cap to back off. When this happens it gets more difficult to remove your key until it gets to the point where the key gets trapped and is nearly impossible to remove.

A tip to get a trapped key out of a lock is to place your thumb up against the cylinder plug and apply some pressure against the plug. You should find that the key will come out quite easily now. This will help you remove the key but does not address the issue itself. You need to hire a professional locksmith.

Security Article Written by: Toronto Locksmith


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