As a professional locksmith we will first need to determine whether the customer simply needs to rekey locks or if they, in fact, need to replace the locks. Many customers aren’t even aware that there is an option or which is best for them.
In rekeying a lock, the locksmith removes the pins and springs in the lock cylinder and replaces them with new pins and springs that work with a new and different key. Unless a lock is malfunctioning or a totally different style is desired, many locks can be rekeyed and kept in service, operating as well or better than ever.
The most common reason to rekey the locks is to maintain key control when there is a change in possession of a property. Key control simply means accounting for all keys made to operate the locks. Once keys are loaned out, key control is lost. Obviously, with a previously owned home, you don’t know who may have had access to the keys. In new homes, contractors have had access to the keys.
In many single-builder communities, locks are construction master keyed. While the use of the homeowner's key may prevent the future use of the contractor's key, there are often master pins left in the lock. Each master pin doubles the number of keys that will operate the lock. In many instances, as many as 16 different keys would operate a single home's locks. Rekeying would remove these master pins and eliminate the possibility of another key operating the locks.
Rekeying allows a locksmith to examine the condition of the lock and its installation. Many problems can be corrected without replacing the lock. Locks are usually lubricated when rekeyed, which can make them operate much more smoothly. Then again, problems may be discovered that indicate that a lock should be replaced.
Some lock manufacturers are offering locks that can be rekeyed by the consumer. These are not the standard pin tumbler locks that have served as the backbone of the lock industry. To allow rekeying without disassembly introduces a lot of additional intricate parts that can lead to malfunctions and tend to be easier to bypass than traditional locks.
Under certain circumstances, locks must be replaced. Locks do wear, sometimes past the point where a rekey can improve their function. It’s never a bad idea to upgrade the locks you have. When you consider the people and property that your locks are protecting, it only makes sense to buy quality locking hardware.
Some may want to replace their locks for purely aesthetic reasons or to accommodate disabilities. Lever handle locks are both attractive and easier to operate than a knob. Similarly, deadbolts are available with an interior thumb turn that can be operated without grasping. Electronic locks are also becoming much more popular, but it should be remembered that what they offer is greater convenience, not security.
Consulting with a professional locksmith may be the best way to determine what you need. Rekeying is definitely the more affordable option. Should you need or choose to replace your locks, your locksmith will have access to far higher quality hardware than what is commonly found at hardware stores.