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What Every Homeowner Should Know About Rekeying a Home

Your home should feel safe and secure against threats from the outside world. You should be able to close that door and wall out all the worries, distractions and stresses of the day. However, the only way that is possible is with a door that locks, and that you’re confident no one else has the means to open. Chances are good you feel that way about your own home’s doors – but is that actually the truth? Is it possible that there are other people with a key to your home?


Your home should feel safe and secure against threats from the outside world. You should be able to close that door and wall out all the worries, distraction...

Wooden Front Door of an Expensive Home
Wooden front door

Actually, it’s far more likely than you might think. In this instance, you must take immediate action to prevent unwanted access and to preserve both your peace of mind and your safety. Did you know that according to the US Department of Justice, in over 65% of all break-ins nationwide, the victim knew the burglar? In a surprising number of instances, the burglar was someone with whom the owner was intimately connected. In many others, the burglar was someone close to them – a friend, a former roommate, etc. Did you know that in 8% of all break-ins, the burglar did not force their way inside, but actually used a key?

What can you do? Well, you have two options, really. You can replace all the locks around your house, or you can have your home rekeyed. Of the two, rekeying is actually the better option for many different reasons. It’s fast, affordable, secure, and far simpler than replacing the hardware.

What Is Rekeying a Lock?

Before we delve into the whole rekeying versus replacement argument or look at the many reasons why you would need to rekey your home, let’s delve into what the process actually is. You might think that it is nothing more than replacing the lock portion of your door handle, and in a way, that is correct. However, it’s also not entirely accurate. So, what’s involved?

Gilded Locksmith

Rekeying is really nothing more than removing your old lock from the handle, or the door in the case of a deadbolt, and then removing the old pins. The original pins are replaced with new ones, in a new configuration, and then the lock is put back into the door or deadbolt lock body. That’s really all there is to it. Compare that process to that of installing new hardware – the old handles and deadbolts will need to be removed, the door possibly modified to accept new hardware, and then the handles and deadbolts will need to be replaced. That’s costly, both in money and in the time required to do it.

Why Rekey versus Replacing the Entire Lock or Door Handle?

So, why should you consider rekeying your home, rather than replacing all of your locks entirely? There are quite a few different reasons, all of which can be important.

  • It’s Fast: One fact that often surprises homeowners is just how quickly a lock can be rekeyed. It takes about the same amount of time to rekey a lock as it does to replace one, and in many instances, it takes less. There is also the fact that a locksmith can rekey your home immediately, whereas you will have to wait to actually get your hands on the hardware. Depending on whether or not the handles and deadbolts are available from a local retailer or must be shipped, that could be a significant amount of time during which you, your family and your home are at risk.
  • It’s More Affordable: When it comes to cost, you’ll find that rekeying your home is far more affordable than replacing all the handles and lock hardware. This is particularly true for higher-end handle and lock options. Designer handles and locks can be incredibly costly, and rekeying them rather than replacing can save a bundle of money.
  • It Allows You to Keep Your Old Hardware: If your home has designer handles and locks that tie into the design of the door or into your home’s wider aesthetic, replacing them can be difficult to do. You may not even be able to find the same design on the market today. By rekeying the locks rather than replacing them, you can keep your old hardware.
  • No Door Modifications Are Necessary: Depending on the replacement hardware, you may find that it is necessary to modify the door. The installation hole may need to be resized to accommodate the new hardware, for instance. This can be very difficult for a homeowner to do on their own, and it will cost more to have a professional do it. Rekeying your home allows you to avoid the prospect of having to modify your doors to accept new locks and handles.
  • All the Locks Can Use the Same Key: Tired of having multiple keys for your home, one for each lock? When you have your locks rekeyed by a professional locksmith, they can be rekeyed so that you can use the same key to open all of your door locks. That means no more fumbling around in the dark trying to tell the difference between the front and back door keys, or the door handle key and the deadbolt key.

As you can see, there are quite a few advantages to rekeying your home rather than replacing the hardware.

When should you consider having the hardware replaced?

Complete replacement is best when the hardware is old and worn, or has become unattractive through weathering or damage. Replacement might also be necessary if you’re changing the door itself. Finally, you might consider complete replacement if your old hardware is of low quality.
Detail of unlocking a door with a battered and scratched lock. Macro shot with focus on the key hole.

Can You Rekey Your Locks Yourself?

While it is always recommended that you have a professional locksmith rekey your home for you, it is possible to do it on your own. You’ll need to make sure that you have the right rekeying kit – the kit varies from one brand to another, so you’ll need to first find out the brand and lock model you have on each door (the handle AND the deadbolt), and then contact the manufacturer or locate a rekeying kit from your local hardware store.

Next, you’ll need to make sure you have the right tools for the job. At the minimum, you’ll need a pair of needle nose pliers and a flathead screwdriver. However, be aware that DIY rekeying requires that you have your old key. If it has been lost or stolen, you cannot rekey your home on your own. You’ll need a locksmith to do it for you. Really, it makes the most sense to trust the professionals regardless, even if you have a key to the lock.

When Should You Rekey the Locks in Your Home?

Door lock with keys

Your home’s door locks are the only things standing between trespassers and invaders, and your family. It makes sense to ensure that you’re as safe as possible. Sadly, too many people believe that they are safe when the reality is far different. When should you consider rekeying your home’s locks? Actually, there are quite a few different instances when this is the wisest course of action. We’ll consider them below:

  • You’ve Bought a Previously Owned Home: Many, many people purchase previously owned homes. It’s the most common path to homeownership, actually. However, never make the mistake of thinking that the real estate agent selling the home or the previous owner had the door locks changed or rekeyed. Always rekey a previously owned home after you purchase it. Simply put, you have no idea who has a key to the old locks, and that is definitely not something you want to add to the already considerable amount of stress you’re under during the purchase and move in process. In fact, this is one of the most frequently forgotten items by people moving into a new home.
  • You’ve Had Tenants: Whether you’ve rented the home itself, or just a portion of it, such as the basement, or a garage apartment, you need to have your locks rekeyed after each tenant leaves. There is a significant chance that the tenant had a copy of the key made, and you have no idea how many copies were created, or who holds those copies now. This has little to nothing to do with whether you parted ways on good terms. If you’ve rented any portion of your home out to another person, rekey your locks immediately.
  • You’ve Bought a New Construction Home: You might assume that you’re exempt from the rekeying process because you’ve bought a home in which no one has ever lived. That’s not actually the truth. You have no idea how many contractors had a key to the home during the construction process, and even if the builder actually did their due diligence and replaced the locks before the house went on the market, chances are good that they used builder-grade locks. These are low-quality, low-cost, temporary solutions that should be replaced immediately. There’s also the possibility that your lock is master keyed, meaning that there could be multiple keys (up to 16, actually) that fit your door locks.
  • You’ve Lost Your Keys: If you have lost your keys, then it is of immense importance that you have your home rekeyed. Call a locksmith to let you into the house, and then have all the door handles and deadbolts rekeyed. Simply put, you have no idea who might have found your keys, and whether or not they’ll be able to determine where you live. Even if your keys are found and returned, you have no guarantee that the finder did not have a copy of your keys made. It just makes sense to have your home rekeyed.
  • Your Purse or Keys Were Stolen: Having your keys stolen, or your purse stolen with your keys inside, is definitely grounds to have your home rekeyed. This gives control over access to your home to someone else, particularly in the case of your purse being stolen. Chances are good that your purse also contained your wallet with your driver’s license, which gives the thief your home’s address. It takes very little to move from purse snatching to burglary, and this may have actually been the reason your purse was stolen in the first place. If your keys have been stolen, then you have no time to waste in having your home’s locks rekeyed.
  • Your House Has Been Invaded/Broken Into: Having your home broken into is a devastating experience. It creates a sense of loss and violation that can be very hard to shake, even if no one was harmed in the process. It is crucial that you have your home’s locks rekeyed in this instance. This is vital no matter how the thief gained access to your home, but particularly if there was no sign of forced entry. However, even if the thief did force their way into your home, there is no proof that they did not steal a copy of a key (most of us have a spare somewhere inside the house). Rekey your locks and you won’t have to worry that the thief will have easy access on a return trip.
  • Your Current Locks Do Not Work as Well as They Once Did: Over time, locks degrade. Tumblers wear, as do the teeth on your keys. While the exterior of your lock might last for decades, the moving parts inside will not. If you’ve owned your home for some time (or you’re the new owner of a home with older locks), then chances are good that the tumblers are beginning to wear. Rekeying your locks gives the old hardware a new lease on life, and also helps prevent the chance that a worn lock will give access to someone who shouldn’t be there.
  • You’ve Separated from a Previous Person with Access: While we all hope it will never happen, it’s all too common. You find yourself separated from someone you expected to be with for years, or even for the rest of your life. Whether you’re going through a divorce, or separating from a longtime significant other, it is important to rekey your door locks. An ended relationship can create feelings of anger and resentment in even the most stable of people, and if they still have a key to your home, then they have immediate access. Even if they return the key they had, there is nothing to say that they haven’t had a copy (or more than one) made and are keeping it. Rekey your doors to keep that person out of your life.
  • You’ve Lost Track of Copies: If you’ve lived in your home for a number of years, chances are good that you’ve had copies of the key made and given them out to various people. You may have given a copy to your parents, or your spouse’s parents. Perhaps you gave a copy to a friend who was house sitting while you went on vacation, or maybe to someone else. If you’ve lived in the same home for quite some time and are no longer certain just who has a key to it, and whether or not those copies have all been returned, it’s a good decision to rekey the house. It’s one of the simplest and most affordable ways to gain peace of mind while controlling your security.

These are just a few of the most common situations in which rekeying your home is important. There are many others, and in all of them, rekeying your home’s locks helps to ensure better safety, security and privacy.

Garage Door Concerns

In addition to having your home’s locks rekeyed, it is also important to remember to change the code on your garage door opener if you have a powered model. If your garage door is manual, you should have the lock rekeyed on the garage door as well. Too often, homeowners forget that their garage connects directly with their home, and gaining access to this area can allow a thief or home invader access to the rest of the house.

Three car garage with white doors

When it’s all said and done, rekeying is a vital consideration, whether you’ve lived at your home for years, or have just moved in. Your home should be safe and secure. It should be your fortress against the worries of the world. However, without secure locks, that is not possible. At Mobile Locksmith Indianapolis LLC, we’re proud to offer expert rekeying for your home, or even for your business. Call us today for more information or to schedule an appointment.


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