It is common for individuals to use several different locks over the course of a day, and these locks may be for their home's front door, the door to an office at work, a car door, a car's ignition and more. Keys for these various locks can be made of different materials, and some may be very durable while others may be rather flimsy. It is most common for a less durable key to break off inside of a lock, and this often occurs the key becomes stuck or jammed. The user may attempt to jiggle the key or loosen it from the lock. While it is more common for less durable keys to break off inside a lock, even the strongest and most durable keys can break too. When keys break inside locks, there are a few steps that you can take before you call a locksmith.
Keys are typically made of metal, and because of this, they have magnetic properties. In some cases, it may be possible to pull the broken section of the key out of the lock by using a magnet. The magnet typically will need to be rather strong to pull a key out. You may be able to pull the key close enough to the edge of the keyhole opening to pull it out with tweezers or a similar tool, or you may be able to pull it entirely out with a magnet.
If you have the ability to drive to a local hardware store, you may be able to invest in an extractor set that is specifically designed to remove broken keys from locks. This is a set of long, slender tools that have a hook at the end of them. They can slide into most locks along the edge of the key, and the hook can be used to latch onto the key and pull it out. These sets are rather affordable in comparison to the price of locksmith services. However, keep in mind that it can take time and effort to use the extractor tools. Furthermore, if your key has broken off inside the car door lock or your car's ignition keyhole, running to the store to buy an extractor set may not be a feasible option.
If you have tried to extract the key on your own with no success or you do not have a magnet or extractor set available to you, you should consider calling a locksmith for assistance. A locksmith will have the tools and experience necessary to remove the broken key from the lock. While the locksmith is assisting with this need, he can also assist with the creation of a new key to replace the one that has broken.