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Is your key sticking in the lock?


Don’t ignore a key sticking in your lock. Over time the problem will get worse and the end result will be a key completely jammed in the lock, or even breaking off in the lock.

There are a few things you can try to stop a key from sticking in a lock, but if you try these methods and are not successful, it’s time to get a new key cut. If a new key sticks in the lock too, it’s time to replace the lock. You should also bear in mind that even if you are successful in stopping the key from sticking, this is only a temporary solution. You will notice that over time, the key will begin to stick again. When this happens, get a new key. Don’t repeatedly use these methods as you could clog up the lock’s mechanism resulting in potential lock failure (leaving you locked out) and the need to have your lock replaced.

If the worst happens and your key does become completely stuck in the lock, you need to call a locksmith. Don’t try to force the key out – you’re likely to snap it off completely. Instead, call a locksmith, who will either be able to remove the key for you, or replace your lock with little or no damage to your door.

Below, we list the possible causes of your key sticking, along with what you can try, and what to avoid.

Common causes of a sticking key:

Dirt and Debris:

Over time, dirt, dust, and debris can accumulate in the lock, hindering the smooth insertion and extraction of the key.

Worn Out or Damaged Key:

A key that is worn out or has damage to its teeth may not align properly with the lock’s pins, causing it to stick.

Badly cut key:

Unfortunately, badly cut new keys are not uncommon. If the key is not cut perfectly, it can become stuck in the lock and damage the lock itself.

Lock Mechanism Issues:

The internal components of the lock, including pins and springs, can wear out or become misaligned, leading to key sticking.

Weather Conditions:

Changes in weather, such as extreme temperatures or humidity, can affect the metal components of the lock, contributing to sticking issues.

What NOT to do:

Forceful Turning:

Avoid applying excessive force when trying to turn the key. This can lead to the key breaking inside the lock, making the situation more complicated.

Using Lubricants Indiscriminately:

While lubricants can be helpful, using the wrong type or applying too much can attract more debris, exacerbating the sticking issue.

DIY Repair Attempts:

Unless you’re experienced in locksmithing, attempting DIY repairs on a sticking key may lead to further damage. Avoid disassembling the lock without professional knowledge.

What to do instead:

DIY methods of preventing a sticky key:


Pencils are made from graphite, which has a slightly waxy texture. Rubbing the entire surface of your key with a soft pencil will leave a very slight coating of graphite on the key. This can act as a lubricant, helping your key to turn more easily in the lock.

WD40 or other lubricant:

WD40 is a very effective lubricant but should not be used repeatedly as its petroleum base can attract dust particles to the lock mechanism. It is possible to purchase lubricants especially designed for locks. These are effective, but as previously stated, should not be used repeatedly as they can clog up the lock.

Gentle Jiggling:

Gently jiggle the key in the lock while applying slight pressure. Sometimes, this subtle movement can help align the key with the internal pins.

Check for Visible Debris:

Inspect the key and lock for any visible debris. If you see anything, carefully remove it with a small, non-abrasive tool.

When to call a local locksmith:

If you have bought a new key and it is still sticking, or if you have several keys and they all have the same problem, you will probably need a new lock. Fitting a new lock is straightforward and not as expensive as you may think. If you continue to struggle on with a sticking key, you are very likely to end up being locked out, as the key will eventually either stick, break off completely, or simply fail to open the lock.

If you do find yourself locked out, click here for advice on what to do.

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email: info@thelockmonkey.co.uk

tel: 07950 148 390

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