You have moved into a new home or made your first home purchase, and you are concerned about who else might have keys to your home. You’re right to be worried. In rental situations and even with home ownership, previous residents, not to mention contractors and subcontractors, may still have copies of keys to the front door. While it’s unlikely they will try to use them, you need to be sure you and your family are safe.
So, what do you do? You can change every lock in the home – which can be costly, or you can rekey your house locks. Let’s talk about rekeying.
How Do Your Door Locks Work?
Have you ever seen a tv star pick a lock with a hairpin and wondered how your door locks actually work? Your home locking systems consist of door levers, door knobs, and deadbolts with keyed locks. The locks generally have a cylindrical plug that holds two sets of pins and springs – key pins and driver pins.
These pins are in varying lengths so that when you push your key into the plug, the key pins contact the driver pins, and both are forced up or down depending on the grooves on the key. As long as the grooves on the key match the lengths of the pins, the plug will rotate, and the door will open.
When the door is locked, those two sets of pins become obstacles and don’t allow the plug to rotate.
What Does it Mean to Rekey House Locks?
Rekeying your house door locks means disassembling them, removing the pins within the lock, and replacing them with pins matching your chosen key.
You can make this a DIY project by purchasing a rekey kit. The kit will come with several keys (with identical cuts) and instructions on replacing the pins in your lock to match the provided key.
If you prefer not to do this yourself, you may hire a professional locksmith to rekey your locks.
Rekey Locks vs. Change Locks
When you think of making a change to your locks, you might naturally think of changing all of the locks. There are certain conditions under which it is best to rekey over changing locks and vice versa.
- If your keys get lost or stolen, rekeying can ensure that if someone finds them, they won’t be able to use them to enter your home.
- If you have moved to a new property, you don’t know who else may have retained copies of your house keys. Rekeying the locks will ensure that if anyone outside of your family tries to use their keys, those keys won’t work.
- If you have several doors to your home and want to use one key for all the locks, you can rekey.
- You should change the lock if you have lost the key to a door lock. Rekeying can only happen if you have the key. In this situation, you may also call a locksmith, and they can cut a new key for your existing lock.
- If your lock is damaged or broken, you will need to change the lock.
- If you change your door lock styles, these new knobs or levers will come with their own locks.
- If you can’t find a professional locksmith to rekey your locks, you should replace the locks.
- Finally, if you want to rekey all your locks to fit one key but the doors have varying manufacturers, you’ll have to change the locks. Lock and key manufacturers have to match to rekey.
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House Rekey House Locks
Here is how you rekey house locks:
What You Need
Before you begin, have the key you intend to use on the door and a rekey kit.
- Remove the door knob. How this is accomplished depends on the make of your doorknob. You may have to line up the holes in the cylinder by turning it counterclockwise and holding it. You may also need to turn the key quarter turn to the right. Pull the knob off so you can see the shank.
- Now remove the cylinder from the inside.
- Remove the C-clip to free the cylinder.
- Take the key plug out of its housing with the follower tube that came in your kit. Then attach it to the back of the cylinder and put the key in the lock. You may have additional instructions for that, depending on your lock. Push the cylinder plug out and leave the follower inside the housing to hold the pins and springs in place.
- Take out the old pins and insert the new key.
- Follow the kit’s instructions and put in the new pins.
- Put the plug back into the cylinder as you slowly push out the plug follower. With the plug back in, try the key to make sure it rotates. Completely remove the follower and replace the C-clip until it snaps.
- Reattach the knob to your door and test the lock.
How to Rekey a Deadbolt
If you have a deadbolt that takes a separate key from the doorknob lock, you can also rekey it.
- Begin by removing the deadbolt from the door. You may need a screwdriver for this.
- Then take the cylinder out of the housing, as well as the endcap from the cylinder. At this step, also remove the retainer pin.
- Repin the lock just as you would the lock with the steps above, then put the cylinder back into its housing with its retainer pin and endcap.
- Ensure the bolt is out, and then reattach the lock to the door.
Rekeying Your House Doors
For your own safety or convenience, it’s great to realize that you don’t have to go to all the trouble and expense of changing your locks. You can simply rekey the doors in your home. Although it is possible to do this yourself with a rekeying kit, we recommend contacting a professional locksmith. You’ll have peace of mind knowing the job has been done well.
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