Imagine coming home after a long and stressful day at work only to get locked out because of a broken key. It’s something many people have to endure now and then, and if you’re in such a predicament, do you know what to do? This article is all about that particular frustrating situation.
We will examine some common broken key scenarios and explain what to do if you find yourself in a similar situation. After reading this blog, you will not be a qualified locksmith, but you will know how to prevent your keys from getting broken, what to do if your key gets broken, and how to minimize the inconvenience this causes.
Why Do Keys Break
The vast majority of keys are made from a mix of brass and nickel, with the primary component being brass. Typically, key makers will use brass because it is a softer metal that is easy to cut and cheaper. If manufacturers use a harder metal to cut a key, this will require a harder blade, and the cutting will take longer, not to mention more expensive. Lastly, the pins inside the lock are made from brass, and keys made from harder metal are difficult to duplicate.
That said, constant use will wear down the metal, making it more prone to breaking. When a key’s pattern is damaged, it will no longer operate the lock it was designed for.
A lock and key system can cease to work because either the lock or key becomes jammed. When a key is jammed inside a lock, it can damage the key. However, the most common cause of breaking is when we force to free the key from the lock.
How to Get a Broken Key Out of a Lock
There are several simple methods on how to get a broken key out of a lock. If part of the key sticks out, you can use small tweezers to grab hold of the sticking part and try to pull it out. If the broken part is too far back into the keyhole and your tweezers are too big to fit in, you can use a small wire or paper clip with super glue on the end. This method will be risky, though, as you could damage the lock itself if the super glue touches the inside parts of the lock.
The best solution to this problem is, of course, to seek the help of a professional. A locksmith should be able to pull out the broken part of a key not only because it’s their expertise, but they would also have the necessary tools like a broken key extractor so they can easily fish out the broken key.
How to Fix a Broken Key
Fixing a broken key is best done by a locksmith with the right equipment, experience, and technical knowledge. The key-fixing process is best described in a series of steps. Step 1 is to straighten the damaged key, which is done by placing it on a hard surface and gently tapping it with a hammer.
Step 2 is to enter the key’s code into the key cutting machine. All keys are coded with letters and numbers, which defines the cut pattern. Placing a blank key into the cutting machine will make the pre-programmed pattern cuts into the blank key.
How are Keys Copied
A locksmith uses a key duplicator machine to copy a broken key. Key copying machines are computerized, and the first step is to type the details of the original key into the computer. It allows the key duplicator to identify the cut pattern on the key. Once the duplicator has identified the cut pattern, it tells the locksmith what settings should be entered into the machine. The original key is placed on the key-duplicating machine that scans the key cut pattern. The blank key is then placed in the machine, cutting the scanned pattern into the blank key.
Duplicating a transponder key is best done by a qualified locksmith who has the knowledge and the right equipment. The locksmith will place the original transponder key in a vice, and the computerized key-cutting machine scans the key’s metal shaft and the computer chip in the key’s head. The blank key is then placed in a vice next to the original key, and the key duplicator programs the chip in the blank key and duplicates the cut pattern of the original key. The machine will then synchronize both keys so either one can be used to operate the locks of a particular car.
Cost of Copying a Key
A duplicate cut of a standard metal key can cost anywhere from $1 to $4. It can be done in locksmith shops in Walmart or Lowes and can also be done in hardware stores and Home Depot outlets. At Home Depot, the locksmith will cut a duplicate key for free if you purchase the blank key from them.
To copy a broken key is a more complicated procedure, and the cost of this can range anywhere from $50 to $200 depending on how badly the key is chipped, what type of key it is, and who is doing the copying.
Broken Key Replacement
If your key is severely damaged or completely broken, it will need to be replaced. The best way to do this is to visit a professional locksmith who can copy a broken key. With a damaged or broken key, a professional locksmith using a computerized key duplicator machine can create a replacement key in a matter of minutes.
If it’s a broken car key, another option is to get a broken key replacement from the dealership that sold you the car. However, this will usually cost significantly more than a locksmith. If your car key is a transponder key, the professional locksmith will have the necessary equipment to provide you with a replacement key. However, this will take longer because it will involve programming the chip inside the replacement keys head.
It is possible to copy a broken key yourself. The resulting keys, however, are only makeshift at best. If you want a key that will last and keep functioning for an extended period, you need to get a qualified locksmith to cut it. To copy or duplicate a key, a professional locksmith will use a key duplicating machine that copies the key’s cut pattern and replicates it on a blank key.
If your key is not a transponder or a restricted key, it can be copied and replaced in minutes, even if it is broken. It is also possible to copy broken transponder keys, but this will require a computerized key copying machine to program a new chip inside the key’s head and cut the key pattern onto a blank metal key. The typical cost for cutting a duplicate key is between two and twelve dollars.
Why You Should Hire a Professional Locksmith
It is possible to use several do-it-yourself methods to duplicate a standard metal key; however, this will only produce a temporary key. If you want a sturdy, long-lasting key, it is best to let a qualified locksmith cut the key for you. For instance, a qualified Denver locksmith from Alexius Denver’s Locksmiths will have the training and the necessary equipment to cut a key copy even if the key is broken.
In the case of a broken restricted key, only a licensed locksmith with access to the key database will be able to duplicate it. In the case of a broken transponder key, only the car dealership you purchased the car from can replace the key, and only a qualified locksmith with the right computerized machinery can make you a new copy.