If you own a business and have a traditional key lock on the front door of your building, then you may notice the lock sticking and becoming harder to engage as it ages. If you notice this happening, then you are at risk of breaking the key off in the lock itself. If this happens to you, then there are some ways you can release the key. Keep reading to find out how in case your key breaks.

Pull Out the Key

If you notice a bit of the key sticking out of your lock, then you may be lucky enough to be able to remove it with a pair of needle-nose pliers. However, you may need to turn the key a bit first if the key is angled in the lock. When you insert a key into a lock, you can move the key into the opening to the shoulder or base of the key. This allows the cuts to align correctly with the pins, and the key pins will disengage from the driver pins that sit just above the lock cylinder. The key pins lock into the key cuts, and you can turn the key. The pins remain engaged with the key until the cylinder is turned one full revolution. The key pins then engage with the drive pins again, and you can remove the key.

If your key is broken in the lock, then you will need to rotate the cylinder enough so the key pins match up with the drive pins and allow the key to move. Place the end of a flathead screwdriver in the lock right next to the broken key. Gently turn the screwdriver counterclockwise until the key opening is vertical. 

Once the key is in the right position, use your needle-nose pliers to grab the edge of the key and pull it out. 

Loosen the Key

If your needle-nose pliers do not work, or if there is only a sliver of the key that can be grabbed by the tool, then you should try to loosen the key a bit before trying to remove it. Most locks will stick and become hard when dirt and debris start to work their way between the drive and key pins. The dirt may also get into the cylinder and make your key stick in place. Removing some of the debris and also lubricating the key can help to loosen it from the key opening. Use a silicone-based spray like WD-40 in the lock. Use the small spray-tube attachment to pinpoint the spray into the lock opening. 

Once you use the spray, try your needle-nose pliers again. If you do not get a good grip on the key, then purchase a strong magnet to try to pull out the key so it can be gripped by your pliers. A neodymium or a rare earth magnet is what you will need. While the name may suggest that the magnets are in fact rare, they are not. Neodymium magnets can be purchased at most home stores, and they are typically fairly inexpensive. The magnets will attract and pull nickel silver keys out of locks, and these keys are the ones that are most commonly used.

Place the magnet right in front of the stuck key to loosen it, and then use your pliers to try to grab the key. 

If you cannot grab or loosen the key, then you will need to contact a locksmith for assistance. A commercial locksmith is a good choice, and the professional will likely use a drill to destroy the lock cylinder. This will mean that the cylinder or the entire lock will need to be replaced. Most locksmiths can complete this sort of replacement fairly quickly so you can open your business.

Talk to a company such as Southern California Security Centers for help.