House keys are one the most commonly lost items for adults, and being locked out of your house can be one of the most stressful, panic-inducing moments of your life. But you don’t have to replace your locks after losing your keys, and knowing the difference between having a lock replaced and simply rekeyed can save you a lot of money. Locksmiths may not tell you if you can get away with having your lock rekeyed, and will just offer the more expensive option, leaving you none the wiser.
The difference between rekeying and replacing a lock
Rekeying a lock involves removing just the cylinder from the lock, and resetting/replacing the pins so they’re operated by a new key. This leaves the rest of the lock intact, and is a lot cheaper than replacing the entire lock.
Meanwhile, replacing a lock requires removing everything, including the key cylinder and barrel as well as the lock, and fitting a new one it its place. This can be done if rekeying is no longer an option, the lock itself has worn out over time, or if you simply want to change the design on your door.
When you should consider rekeying a lock
Rekeying your lock can be useful when you’ve misplaced or lost the key, or if you’ve just moved house. Worryingly, only 30 per cent of new homeowners change the locks on all the external doors — even though there’s a chance the previous homeowner handed keys out to neighbours, relatives, and friends. A further 12 per cent change the locks on at least one door, which is mainly the front door. However, the remaining 58 per cent choose to leave the locks as they are, despite not knowing who may have a copy.
Rekeying your door locks can also be useful if you ever want to minimise the number of keys you have. It’s possible to set all the locks in your home to the same key, leaving you with just the one key rather than multiple sets.
When you should replace a lock
If you’re unfortunately the victim of a burglary, it’s recommended you change the locks. It’s unlikely a burglar will use a house key to break in, as they’re more likely to force entry or use lock picks. The force required to break in will ultimately damage your lock, so it will need replacing for a stronger lock.
Locks may wear down over time, and become less secure than they were when first installed, which is when they need replacing. However, this is much more expensive than simply rekeying, and will need to be installed by a professional locksmith. Bear in mind you’ll need to pay the locksmith for their time, as well as all the parts for the new lock. Older locks are much easier to pick, or break into, so you should ensure your locks are in the best condition they can be in, and replace when necessary.