A Little Bit About “Rekeying”

Every day we field calls from Polk County residents asking if we can “change their locks”. While technically the answer is “Yes, we can put new locks on your residence”, the real answer is “You don’t need new locks. Let us rekey what you have”.

The reason we get these requests are many. They can include:

  • Protecting the family – if someone has a key to your home that shouldn’t, this neutralizes their key.
  • Peace of Mind – The customer has a new residence and wants to make sure that unauthorized people do not have a key to the house. Mind you there may not be anybody that actually has a key to the house, but you just don’t know that when you move into a new place. Plenty of people have keys to their neighbors’ houses for perfectly good reasons. What happens, though, when those folks move away?
  • Convenience – My first house had 3 doors and 5 different keys. That’s just dumb. Putting all of your doors on the same key is sensible, maintains security, and simplifies things.

Rekeying a Lock is the process of recombinating the pins and tumblers to change the physical security profile of the lock so that former keys no longer work and new ones do. Or in Polk-language, we’re changing the locks’ innards.

Inside a standard residential or commercial lock are a series of springs and pins – cylindrical brass objects of varying height that correspond to the hills and valleys of your physical key. By changing the pin sizes, we are effectively making any old keys unusable for your locks. We’ll cut you some new keys that match the new setup and boom – you’re good to go and the bad guys are… well, who knows. But they don’t have keys anymore.

So why rekey the locks instead of replacing the locks?

Again, there are several good reasons to rekey your locks instead of replacing them. Three of the most common include:

  • Cost – We get it. Money is in short supply. If you need to replaced your door locks, you’re buying all new hardware and you still need to key all the locks to match each other. So you’re paying twice. Why do that when you can save your money and just rekey the lock?
  • Fit – Let’s face it, all of our houses have their own personality. Doors may sag a little. The door jamb may be off-kilter. Your old lock may have been there forever. Whatever it is, chances are your current lock, assuming it’s in working order, just “fits” your door. A new lock may require modifications to the door or the door frame to accommodate a slightly different form factor of a latch or faceplate. We’re not saying that replacing your lock is a terrible idea and impossible to do – far from it. However if you’re happy with the finish and fit of your hardware and just want a different key to work, why go through the trouble and possible extra expense and work?
  • Finish – Styles change over time. It used to be that ever lock on every door was a bright brass. That’s not the case anymore. Locks come in more shapes, styles, and colors that ever before. Whether it’s brushed nickel, aged bronze, antique brass, or even – yes, even polished brass, you’ve got choices. You be you, boo.

We’re sure there’s other good reasons to rekey instead of replace – and several good reasons to replace your locks instead of rekey – but these are some of the reasons we run into the most often.

What Else do I Need to Know?

Good question. Probably lots. But trying to stay on the subject of locks, here are a few questions that come up from time to time.

Q: Can all my locks be made to work with the same key?

A: Yes, provided that they use the same key blade. There are a large number of types and styles of keys in use today. For the US, the majority of homes use either a Schlage or a Kwikset key. The easiest way to tell if all of your locks can be put on the same key is by seeing if your key will enter all of your locks. It doesn’t need to turn the lock, just enter the lock. If your key does fit all of your locks, then all of your locks can be put on the same key. If your key doesn’t fit all of the locks, you are in a situation where you need to decide if you want to replace some locks so that everything has the same keyway, or if you’d prefer to simply have multiple keys.

Q: Do you carry push button locks?

A: No. These locks are expensive and come in lots of styles. If you want a push button lock, visit your favorite retailer and get what you want. We’ll be happy to install and program it for you if you’d like us to. A few tips – if you’re replacing a lock, make sure it has the same keyway that you’re replacing. That way everything can be made to match. And yes – get one with a keyway. They sell these locks without a key override. Buying one of these is a bad idea. Should the time come when your lock fails, you forget to replace a battery in a timely manner, or you need another way to enter your residence, you’ll be glad you had a key (or a keyway that a quality locksmith could pick) – otherwise you’d be destroying the lock and replacing it again.

Q: Can you install a deadbolt / lock / etc… on this door?

A: Yes, we can install locks and deadbolts on doors that presently do not have this hardware. Know that this requires some skill and time, and we prefer advance notice so that we can schedule you appropriately.

Q: Can you rekey my sliding glass door?

A: Maybe. Probably not. These doors are manufactured to random specifications by the manufacturer. There’s not a ton of standardization. Consequently, the lock may not be something meant to be rekeyed, it may be a proprietary keyway, or it may just be too much trouble to be cost-effective for us. If rekeying your sliding door is your focus, try to find the manufacturer and reach out to them directly. Chances are they can sell you a lock kit that can be replaced on your door with just a screwdriver.