How To – Re-key Your Locks Or Match A Whole House Set

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    There are times in a home’s life when you need to change the locks. This can be when a crazy person you were dating moves out or it could just be that you bought a new home and would rather the old owners didn’t still have working keys.

    You have a few options and maybe if the locks on the door are over 10 years old it might be a good time to think about updating and replacing the whole lock set.

    However if the locks are in good condition and they are relatively new you can probably just change the pins and get new keys.

    We will look at the process for your home and help you understand your options and the relative cost for each procedure.  Lets first take a look at swapping out all your old hardware for new hardware and then we will cover what might be involved in keeping your locks but changing the keys.

    How To swap your old door locks for new ones

    If the locks in your home are causing you problems. Maybe you have to work your key in the door in the winter time or maybe the lock feels lose from many years of use then it might not be a bad time to think about replacing them.

    Now although we are only covering the lock its self this is the best time to think about upgrades to your doors, hinges and other hardware. If you are working on your door you might even want to replace it completely with one that offers better security like a steel clad door or higher energy efficiency. At the very least its probably a good time to think about putting a coat of paint on it while you have all the hardware off it.

    If you have a single door knob or a single door knob and a deadlock to the top or bottom of the knob then the process of finding new lock sets and replacing them is pretty easy. However if you have say a special front door with a large cover plate that matches the position of both the deadbolt and the doorknob you will have to take some close measurements to make sure your new hardware fits.

    When you go to purchase lock sets you will have the choice of 4, 5 or 6 pin lock sets. Obviously the higher the number of pins in the lock the more secure it is. You will also have the option of lock sets that work with your home’s automation or alarm system and you might not even have a key override to open the door normally with a key. It all just depends on how much you are willing to pay and what features you need. In all honesty a standard 5 pin lock set should be sufficient for most home owners. The thing you have to remember is if someone wants in then they are going to get in. They may know a way to get past your lock or they might break the whole door down and if that doesn’t work there is always a chainsaw or driving a pickup truck through your wall. But you should do your homework and read reviews about the products you think you want and make sure they are of decent quality.

    If you are good with a screwdriver then that is about all you will need to replace your door locks. If the door is already fitted with locks the new ones should fit very easily in the same openings.

    If you are adding something like a deadbolt you will need to cut a hole with a hole saw which is a large drill bit. Using a Template that should be in the box with the lock you tape it to the door and drill the hole. When drilling you want to drill half way through from one side and half way through from the other side. The template will make sure the hole is aligned and drilling from both sides makes sure the face of the door is not damaged.

    I strongly suggest that you start with a door that passes from your kitchen to your garage or another door that does not lead directly outside if at all possible. This will give you practice that you need to understand the job and your home won’t be left wide open if you find out the work is too much for your skill level.. Honesty its pretty easy but I would give yourself an hour per door. It will probably take you 20 minutes for the last door if you are changing out 5 locks but the first one will take quite a bit longer.

    On the other hand you can always buy your locks and call a locksmith or simply call a locksmith and they will charge you 40% more per lock than you can find online or at a local discount store.

     Re-keying Your Home’s Locks if you want to keep your hardware

    There are a few times when you need to rekey a lock. If you are purchasing a new lock for a single door and you want it to match all of the other locks so you don’t have to keep separate keys or if you are changing the keys for your entire home you will need to open the internal workings of the lock cylinder.

    If you are adding a new lock set to a single door you must make sure it is from the same manufacturer and that it has the same number of pins. There are a few other compatibility issues you might run into but a good hardware store should be able to match your new lock set to your old one.

    The process of rekeying a lock is not that difficult however it does take some skill. For this reason I am not going to go into all the steps needed to complete the task I am going to tell you about it and then tell you your best option to get the work done.

    Inside the lock cylinder are springs and pins. Each pin is made to an exact length and matches the notches on your key. Each manufacturer has its own set of pins and most have a few different styles within each brand. Pin sets are a little expensive if you will only be doing this once.

    Technically you could just move the pins around and create a new combination without buying pins however it can be hard to find a hardware store that is able to cut a key based on pin sizes vs just copying a key.  If you would like to do that I suggest you find a good locksmith with a retail front and bring in one of the locks then they can make a new key for you and tell you the new positions of the pins.

    If you hire a locksmith they may have a hand held key notcher that can cut the key in your home.


    Final Note

    If you need to change your locks fast then call a locksmith that has on site service. They can normally do a whole home in a couple hours but you will pay for the service.

    If you can do the work yourself you can purchase a cheap door lock for $15 the brand does not matter and insert the knob / lock set in each door as you bring one of your lockset in for repining / rekeying. This will keep your home secure temporarily as you go to the store to get your lockset repined.

    Most hardware stores with trained staff can change the pins and copy a key.

    If you are purchasing locks for your door you can buy them with matching keys. Each manufacturer will place a key code on the box and you just match all the locks and your keys will work right out of the box. Not to mention you will have lots of original keys with each lock so they will work for years perfectly.


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