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Rekey vs Replacing Your Locks

Updated on April 23, 2014

An important question for securing your space

Every home or business owner will have different requirements for this question. Did you just move? What type of locks are installed? How old are the locks and do they match the security level that you wish to have installed at your home or office. These are all questions that you should ask yourself before making a decision to re-key or change your lock assembly completely.


Re-keying Changes the Tumblers

Diagram of Lock Tumblers
Diagram of Lock Tumblers | Source

Definition of a Lock Re-key

Before you can decide if you should re-key or replace your home or business locks, it is important to know what a lock re-key procedure does. It is one of the most basic of locksmith tasks, but can be complicated with higher security locks.

A lock re-key changes the lock tumblers so that each of the wafers will be in a different order than before. This is done to keep the same lock and effectively change the keys. A locksmith will be able to use the new code from the lock tumblers so that the old set of keys will not work with the new tumblers.

If your door locks are of a security grade of (ANSI) Grade 1 or higher, then you should be able to re-key them without changing the locks.

A Quick Pole

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Benefits of Lock Rekeying

When you get a lock re-keyed, you won't have to buy any additional hardware, which makes it much less expensive. Here are some other benefits.

  1. Maintains the look of your door ( No paint lines )
  2. The locks can be keyed to the same locks (convenience)
  3. Lower Cost!

3 Times You Should Change Your Locks

When your locks are old and shaky, jiggly and out of style it can be time to replace the entire lock assembly completely. There are a few times that this will be necessary that I will go over below.

1. If your lock has been damaged in a break in or other mis-hap

When the parts of the locks have been separated from the door frame, or the assembly has been worn down so much that the parts of the lock no longer "catch" to secure the mechanism it is time for a new set of locks.

2. Your locks are too old to find parts

If you have an antique lock set and the parts are no longer available to replace or re-key the tumblers, it is high time to upgrade your existing locks to a new set. The newer locks in this age have a much better security level as manufacturing procedures have been upgraded over the years. It is very hard to find a locksmith that works on antique locks, and if you do they will charge a premium for re-keying or repair.

3. You require a higher level of security for your home or business

If you have locks installed that have a low security rating, it should be on your to-do list to upgrade them to at least an ANSI 1 level. These locks will be harder to pick, drill, or otherwise tamper with. We recommend a good lock from well-known companies like Schlage and Kwikset, but there are many good locks on the market. Check out the comparison charts on Consumer reports if you are in the market: Also asking your local locksmith what he would install is never a bad option.

Lock Rekeying 101

DIY Lock Rekeying

Now that you know the benefits of lock rekeying vs changing your locks, and you have made the decision to rekey them, you have three options.

1. Hire a local locksmith to come to your home to re-key your locks.

2. Take your locks off the door-frame and take them to a local locksmith shop and have them re-keyed for you.

3. DIY - There are many re-key kits that you can buy for locks that are common on the market-place.


Options for Changing Your Locks

If your locks fall into the category of a lock change, then you have about the same options, but you will have extra decisions to make about the new type of locks that you will want to install.

1. You can hire a handy-man or local locksmith to perform a professional lock change. I recommend hiring a professional that you find on the BBB or another trusted source with reviews like Yelp.

2. You can buy a lock-set from a hardware store or online and change out the lock assemblies yourself. Below are some articles to get you started.

DIY Lock Change Video

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    • Ductuan profile image

      Ductuan 7 months ago

      Great article. many good informations


    • John Albu profile image

      John Albu 3 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87102

      You nailed it there, Brian! If I could send this text to each customer who asks me about locks rekeying, I would gladly do so, instead of trying to explain the same thing over and over again :)

    • profile image

      Candice Harding 3 years ago

      When my finance and I first moved into our apartment, the landlord had the locks replaced. This definitely made us feel more secure, as the apartment had been accessible by key to any prospective renters who knew the code for the box where it was kept. The biggest issue we had was that it took the technician well over a month to come to our apartment. In this case, the technician was chosen by our landlord, but if we had had the choice, we would have looked for a local locksmith who was prompt as well as experienced.

      Candice Harding

    • brainspike profile image

      Brian Williams 4 years ago from Phoenix, USA

      If anyone has recently changed or re-key their locks, we would love to hear about your positive or negative experiences!