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Your Security. Our Priority: Trusted Locksmith Experts!
At Your Request 24/7 in 25 Minutes

Your Security. Our Priority:
Trusted Locksmith Experts!
At Your Request 24/7 in 25 Minutes

What to Do If Your Key Keeps Turning But Doesn’t Open the Door

Key Not Turning

Encountering a situation where your Key Not Turning in the lock but doesn’t unlock the door can be frustrating and confusing. Whether you’re rushing to get into your home after a long day or trying to open a commercial space, this issue is not only inconvenient but also raises security concerns. However, it’s a relatively common problem that many people in London and the surrounding areas face.

This article dives into the causes of this odd lock behavior and offers practical solutions. We cover on-the-spot fixes and advise when to enlist expert help. While you can tackle some issues with DIY, others demand a professional locksmith’s skills to maintain your lock’s reliability and your security.

Stick with us as we unravel the mystery of a key that turns but won’t open the door, equipping you to manage the issue if it occurs.

Understanding the Mechanism

The simple yet ingenious design of a lock and key system has kept our homes and businesses secure for centuries. Inside the common pin tumbler lock, a series of small pins of varying lengths prevent the lock from turning without the correct key. When the key is inserted, the unique pattern of its cuts aligns these pins precisely, allowing the cylinder to rotate freely and the lock to disengage.

Worn Key

Everyday use can take its toll on keys. With time, the sharp edges that push the pins into position can wear down, resulting in a key that slides into the lock but lacks the precision to align the pins correctly. This is especially true for keys that have been copied multiple times, as each successive copy can introduce slight imperfections that compound over time.

Faulty Lock Cylinder

At the heart of the lock is the cylinder, a component that can fail due to broken or worn internal parts. If the cylinder is compromised, it may turn without activating the necessary mechanisms that retract the bolt, leaving you with a door that won’t open despite the key turning.

Misaligned Door

Doors and their frames can shift due to changes in humidity and temperature or settling of the structure. If the door is misaligned, the bolt may not line up with the strike plate, preventing the door from unlocking. This is often more pronounced in older buildings or after significant weather events.


Dirt, dust, or foreign objects building up inside the keyway or lock mechanism can hinder smooth operation, preventing the key from fully engaging with the pins or the cylinder from turning, even with a perfectly cut key.

Damaged Lock Components

Locks contain several small, moving parts like springs and pins, which can break or become dislodged due to wear and tear or tampering. Such damage can lead to a disconnection between the turning of the key and the movement of the latch or bolt that secures the door.

Understand these components and their possible problems to better identify the cause when a key turns but won’t unlock the door, helping you decide whether to try a quick fix or call a professional locksmith.

Immediate Steps to Take

When you’re standing at your door and the Key Not Turning isn’t performing as expected, it’s important to remain calm and follow these steps:

Don’t Force the Key:

 Turning the key with excessive force can cause it to break inside the lock, which only adds to the problem. Gently wiggle the key in and out a few millimeters while turning it to see if you can engage the mechanism.

Check the Door:

 Push or pull the door to check if it’s sticking to the frame from paint, weather changes, or other factors. The bolt might be free while the door itself is stuck, indicating a Key Not Turning issue.

Lubricate the Lock:

 If the key is difficult to turn, indicating a Key Not Turning problem, the lock might need lubrication. Apply a silicone-based lubricant or graphite powder to the key and gently work it into the lock.

Clean the Keyway:

 If you suspect debris or an obstruction is causing the Key Not Turning issue, use a cotton swab or compressed air to clean out the keyhole. Be careful not to push any debris further into the lock.

Try a Spare Key:

 If you have a spare key, try using it to see if the problem is with the primary key causing the Key Not Turning issue. A spare key that is less worn may work better in the lock.

Inspect the Key:

Look for signs of wear, bending, or damage on your key. If the key is damaged, leading to a Key Not Turning situation, it may need to be replaced.

By performing these immediate actions, you might resolve the issue quickly without the need for professional help. However, if these steps don’t work, it may be time to delve deeper into troubleshooting or to consider calling a professional locksmith.


When faced with a lock that turns but doesn’t release, it’s time for a more systematic approach to determine the root cause and find a solution. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you troubleshoot the issue:

Assess the Key and Lock Alignment

Begin by checking if the key seems to be engaging correctly with the lock mechanism. A key that turns too easily without resistance or one that requires excessive force can both indicate alignment problems. If the cylinder doesn’t turn smoothly or the resistance feels uneven, the issue could be with the lock mechanism itself.

Check for Loose Components

Door hardware can loosen over time, which might affect the lock’s performance. Inspect the door knob, handle, and lock assembly, tightening any loose screws you find. Sometimes this simple step can resolve what seems like a complicated lock malfunction.

Analyze the Lock’s Behavior

Compare the lock’s behavior with the door open versus closed. If the Key Not Turning with the door open but not when closed, the problem may be with the door’s alignment with the frame, not the lock or key.

Dismantle the Lock

If you’re confident in your DIY skills, you might consider disassembling the lock to inspect its internal mechanism. This can reveal broken parts or obstructions that aren’t visible from the outside. However, proceed with caution, as improper handling can cause further damage.

Test the Latch and Bolt

With the door open, turn the key and watch how the latch or bolt moves. It should retract smoothly. If it sticks or hesitates, the mechanism may need cleaning, lubrication, or there could be an issue with the internal components.

Try Adjusting the Strike Plate

If the latch isn’t catching in the strike plate, it may be possible to fix the issue by adjusting the plate itself. Loosen the screws, reposition the plate slightly, then retighten the screws. This can sometimes solve alignment problems that prevent the door from unlocking.

It’s important to remember that some lock issues can be complex and might require a professional locksmith’s expertise. Contact a professional if these troubleshooting steps don’t resolve the problem or if you’re uncomfortable attempting them. This ensures a safe and effective resolution.

Maintenance Tips

To avoid the frustration of a Key Not Turning that turns but won’t open the door, regular maintenance is key. Here are some tips to keep your locks functioning smoothly:

Regular Cleaning:

 Dirt and grime can build up inside the lock, leading to a Key Not Turning issue. Clean the lock’s exterior with a mild cleaner and a soft cloth. Use a cotton swab or compressed air to remove debris from the keyhole.


 Apply a silicone-based lubricant or graphite powder to your locks annually to prevent a Key Not Turning situation. This helps keep the internal mechanism working smoothly and prevents sticking.

Key Care: 

Take care of your keys to prevent a Key Not Turning situation. Avoid using them as tools to open packages or makeshift screwdrivers, as this can damage the key’s teeth, reducing its effectiveness.

Check for Wear and Tear: 

Inspect your keys and locks periodically for signs of wear, as Key Not Turning issues can arise. If you notice any damage or if the key is bent, have a copy made before it becomes unusable.

Tighten Hardware:

Over time, the screws on your door hardware can become loose, potentially leading to a Key Not Turning issue. Periodically check and tighten them to ensure everything is secure..

Consider Weather Effects:

 Wood doors can expand and contract with temperature changes. If you notice seasonal sticking, it might be worth consulting with a locksmith about solutions such as adjusting the strike plate or fitting weather stripping.

By following these maintenance tips, you can extend the life of your locks and reduce the chances of unexpected lockouts. If you’re unsure about how to perform any of these maintenance tasks, or if you notice any issues during your checks, it’s wise to call a professional locksmith to assess the situation.

When to Call a Professional Locksmith

Identifying when a situation is beyond a quick fix and requires a professional locksmith is key to ensuring the security and functionality of your locks. Here are some instances when you should consider calling in the experts:

Persistent Issues

If you’ve tried the immediate solutions and the problem persists, or if you notice the issue occurs repeatedly, it’s a clear sign that a deeper, possibly more complex problem exists. A professional locksmith can diagnose and solve persistent issues with your lock.

Visible Damage

Should there be visible signs of damage to the lock, or if you have experienced a break-in or an attempted break-in, it’s crucial to have the integrity of your locks checked by a professional. They can repair or replace damaged locks to restore security to your property.

Lock Upgrades

Always have a professional upgrade your locks to newer, more secure versions or install advanced security systems like smart locks to ensure correct installation and functionality.

Key Duplication

When it comes to key duplication, especially for high-security locks, professional locksmiths possess the precise tools required to create accurate and reliable copies. As a result, this service ensures that the new keys work smoothly and are as durable as the originals.

Lockout Services

If you find yourself locked out of your home, business, or car, a professional locksmith can help you regain entry without causing damage to your property. Attempting to force entry on your own can result in costly damages and potential security risks.

Security Assessments

A professional locksmith can perform a comprehensive security assessment of your property. They can recommend upgrades and improvements to bolster your security, tailored to your specific needs and the unique vulnerabilities of your property.

In each of these scenarios, a professional locksmith is not just a service provider but a consultant who can ensure the safety and functionality of your locks. With the expertise to handle a wide range of lock-related issues, they are a critical resource for maintaining the security of your premises.

Choosing the Right Locksmith Service

When you’re faced with lock and key issues, selecting the right locksmith is crucial. Here’s what you should consider to ensure you’re getting the best service:

Certification and Training:

Moreover, prioritize locksmiths who are certified and have completed professional training. Such qualifications guarantee they possess the most current knowledge and tools to effectively address your security requirements.

Local Expertise: 

A local locksmith is not only more likely to respond quickly but also understands the common security issues in your area. Plus, supporting local businesses helps the community thrive.


Check reviews and testimonials from previous customers. A reputable locksmith will have a history of satisfied clients and will be transparent about their services and pricing.

Insurance and Warranty:

 Ensure that the locksmith service is insured, which protects your property in case of damage during repair or installation. A trustworthy service will also offer a warranty on their work.

Emergency Services: 

Lock issues can occur at any time. Choose a locksmith that offers 24/7 emergency services so you’re never left stranded.

Comprehensive Services: 

Whether you require assistance with residential, commercial, or automotive locks, it’s beneficial to select a company offering a broad spectrum of services. This approach ensures that, regardless of your situation, you’ll have access to the expertise necessary to address all your potential locksmithing needs seamlessly.

Upfront Pricing:

A trustworthy locksmith will always offer a transparent and upfront pricing structure. Therefore, it’s wise to steer clear of companies that provide ambiguous quotes or conceal hidden fees.


Dealing with a key that turns but doesn’t unlock the door can be perplexing and stressful. However, with the right knowledge and actions, you can effectively address the issue. We’ve covered the basics of lock mechanics, immediate steps to take, troubleshooting techniques, and the importance of regular maintenance to prevent future problems.

Remember, you can address some issues with straightforward DIY methods. However, for the safety and security of your property, it’s best to have a professional locksmith handle others. It’s essential to recognize when to call in the experts and how to choose a reputable locksmith service.

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