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How to open a broken padlock

Updated February 21, 2019

A padlock is a lock mechanism used to secure simple doors. Padlocks consist of a hook-shaped metal piece that is locked into an internal bolt. Occasionally, a padlock's metal locking piece or internal bolt jams or malfunctions. This may prevent you from opening the padlock.

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  1. Jiggle the key in the key hole. The gears inside the padlock may have become disjointed. Pull firmly on the top bolt, as the bolt may have simply become jammed in the padlock.

  2. Spray both the key hole and the padlock bolt with an aerosol lubricant such as WD-40. Rust, debris and other material may be causing undue friction, preventing the padlock from opening. Repeat Step 1. If the padlock still does not open, continue to Step 3.

  3. Insert a flat-head screwdriver into the area in which the padlock bolt enters the padlock itself. Push the screwdriver in as far as possible. Hit the top of the screwdriver with a hammer. Repeat until the bolt pops out of the padlock.

  4. Match a bolt cutter with the width of the padlock's bolt to ensure that the cutter is capable of slicing through the padlock. Place the bolt within the sheering mechanism of the bolt cutter and exercise the device as if it were a pair of scissors. It may take several tries to cut through the padlock depending on the strength of the metal.

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Things You'll Need

  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Bolt cutter
  • Mechanical aerosol lubricant (e.g. WD-40)

About the Author

Joshua Duvauchelle is a certified personal trainer and health journalist, relationships expert and gardening specialist. His articles and advice have appeared in dozens of magazines, including exercise workouts in Shape, relationship guides for Alive and lifestyle tips for Lifehacker. In his spare time, he enjoys yoga and urban patio gardening.

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