Door & Window Security

Welcome to our comprehensive troubleshooting guide for resolving the frustrating issue of a key not turning in the lock. At Locking Locksmiths, we understand the urgency and inconvenience this problem can cause. In this article, we will delve into the various reasons behind a key getting stuck and provide you with practical solutions to overcome this issue. By following our expert advice, you’ll be able to regain access to your property swiftly and efficiently.

Understanding the Problem

Before we jump into the solutions, it’s important to understand the underlying causes that can lead to a key refusing to turn in the lock. By diagnosing the root issue, we can provide you with targeted remedies.

Misaligned Key and Lock Cylinder

One common reason for a key not turning is a misalignment between the key and the lock cylinder. Over time, general wear and tear can cause the internal components of the lock to shift, resulting in misalignment. Additionally, excessive force while inserting or removing the key can exacerbate this problem.

Key Wear or Damage

Keys endure regular usage and are susceptible to wear and tear. Continuous usage can lead to key edges becoming worn or damaged, making it difficult for the key to engage the lock’s pins properly. A damaged key can also contribute to the misalignment discussed earlier.

Internal Lock Mechanism Issues

Another potential cause is an issue with the internal mechanism of the lock itself. Inside the lock cylinder, there are numerous tiny pins that must align precisely for the key to turn smoothly. Problems such as seized or stuck pins, dirt, debris, or corrosion can hinder the key’s movement.

Other Contributing Factors

Apart from the main causes mentioned above, there may be additional factors that contribute to a key not turning in the lock. These can include temperature fluctuations, humidity, improper installation, or a faulty lock mechanism. Identifying and addressing these factors is crucial for a successful resolution.

Troubleshooting Steps

Now that we have explored the common causes, let’s move on to the practical steps you can take to resolve the issue of a key not turning in the lock.

Step 1: Lubrication

Begin by applying a lubricant specifically designed for locks. Insert the lubricant into the keyhole and try gently wiggling the key back and forth to distribute the lubricant throughout the lock cylinder. This can help free up any seized pins or alleviate friction caused by debris.

Step 2: Verify Key Condition

Inspect the key for signs of wear or damage. If you notice any visible issues, such as bent or worn edges, it’s advisable to have a duplicate key made by a professional locksmith. A new key with pristine edges will often alleviate the problem of a key not turning in the lock.

Step 3: Jiggling and Gentle Pressure

Sometimes, a bit of finesse can make all the difference. While applying slight pressure, gently jiggle the key in an attempt to align the pins and overcome any obstructions. Be careful not to use excessive force, as this may further exacerbate the issue or even break the key.

Step 4: Heat Expansion or Contraction

Temperature fluctuations can impact the functionality of a lock. If the key doesn’t turn in colder weather, try using a hairdryer to gently warm the lock. Conversely, if you’re experiencing the issue in hotter weather, applying an ice pack to the lock for a brief period can help contract the metal and potentially resolve the problem.

Step 5: Seek Professional Assistance

If the previous steps haven’t resolved the issue, it’s time to reach out to a professional locksmith. Locksmiths have the expertise and specialized tools necessary to diagnose and fix complex lock problems. They can disassemble the lock, clean the internal components, and perform any necessary repairs or adjustments.

Key Issues Locking or Un-Locking Doors


Experiencing a key that won’t turn in the lock can be a frustrating and inconvenient situation. However, armed with the knowledge gained from this troubleshooting guide, you are well-equipped to tackle the issue head-on. By following the step-by-step solutions we’ve provided, you can increase the chances of resolving the problem and regain access to your property with ease.

Remember, if all else fails, our team of skilled locksmiths at Locking Locksmiths is just a phone call away. Gary Wrixon is dedicated to ensuring your safety and security, and we will gladly assist you in resolving any lock-related issues promptly and professionally.


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