Discovering that your key is not working can be a frustrating experience. There are several reasons why your key may stop working, but not all of them warrant a lock replacement. The following information will help you to better understand what may be causing your lock and key issues and what you can do to get things resolved.
If it is winter and the temperature is in the freezing range, it is possible that your lock is frozen and will resume working when it is thawed out. You can try deicing the lock if it is possible that it is frozen.
Use a lighter or hand sanitizer to unthaw the frozen lock. Warm your key using a lighter and insert it into the lock. Alternatively, you can cover your key with hand sanitizer and stick it in the lock to de-ice. Do not use hot water in freezing temperatures on a lock because additional freezing might occur.
Warping may occur for a number of reasons. A cheaply made duplicate may be warped from the time the key is cut. Warped keys do not have to appear obviously bent or damaged. It is even possible for a high-quality key to warp over time, and the changes may not be evident to the naked eye, but the key will stop working. The best way to determine if you have a warped key is to try using a spare key that has worked in the past. If the spare works, the non-working key is likely warped. Get a locksmith like Fox Chase Lock & Key to make a quality duplicate from the spare.
It is possible that the inner components of the lock are no longer in the same alignment as your key. Locks may get out of their original alignment due to misuse or other reasons, such as age. For example, jamming a duplicate key into the keyhole to encourage it to work could affect the lock's alignment. Locksmiths can rectify some alignment issues by making keys that fit the new positioning.
Ensure that there is not a broken key in the keyhole. This is something that could happen if someone tried to gain entry that was not supposed to. For example, if you had a recent lock change due to someone moving out of your home or a relationship ending, someone who had the old key may have tried to use it.
It seems easy enough, but ensure that you are using the correct key. If you have more than one key that resembles another key, you may be accidentally using the wrong key.
A locksmith is the best resource to use when keys no longer work. They can troubleshoot the issue and make the best recommendation, which could end up saving you time and money.