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Have you recently lost your keys? Have you bought a previously-occupied house or a used car? Has a former housemate move out?

All of these scenarios could leave your home or car open to any number of safety threats, from burglars to home intruders. This could leave you and your family at risk.

When your home is left vulnerable, it’s important to take steps to keep it safe by changing locks. One of these potential lock-changing methods is called “rekeying.”

This article answers the question “What is rekeying?” and explains when you should consider rekeying your home, or when you might need to completely replace your locks.

After all, it’s important to keep your family and belongings safe. Luckily, we can help.

What is Rekeying?

Rekeying a lock is the simple process of changing the inner tumblers of a locking mechanism. This essentially makes it so that old keys will no longer work, without having to go through the complicated process of replacing the entire lock and door hardware.

Rekeying changes the combination pin, or what your key reads, inside the cylinder of the lock. This means getting changing keys but without the hassle of getting a completely new locking system. 

When a locksmith rekeys your locks, they will remove the old pins and springs and replace them with totally new ones. This means the lock will only work with new and different keys, a great option if you want to bulk up home security in a simple and cost-effective way. 

If your locks are still in good condition, this could be a great alternative to replacing the lock.

The Rekeying Process

The process of rekeying a lock is fairly simple, especially compared to total lock replacement. This process will require no new expensive hardware, so you only have to pay for the cost of labor.

When your locksmith rekeys your lock, they will begin by removing the lock from the door. This allows them to gain complete access to the internal locking mechanism.

When rekeying a lock, it helps to have the current keys handy. If you’ve lost your keys, or otherwise don’t have access to them, the locksmith will have to pick the lock to gain access.

Then the locksmith will focus their attention on the internal key pins and lock cylinder which houses those pins. These parts will be changed and rearranged to correspond to a new key. 

This process can be done on your own, but it requires a high level of skill and expertise. Calling your locksmith to help is completely inexpensive and easy. Your locksmith can make rekeying your locks a breeze. 

Pros of Rekeying Your Lock

Now that you better understand the rekeying process, it is important to understand the full benefits of rekeying your lock. These include:

A Renewed Sense of Security

Rekeying your locks can be an important step in taking back your feeling of security. This will ensure that unwanted intruders cannot enter your home or car. It also ensures anyone with access to your old keys will no longer be able to use them, allowing you a renewed peace of mind.

Inexpensive and Cost-Efficient

Because there is no new door hardware involved with rekeying, the process only requires you to pay for labor. This makes it a very inexpensive process, which could save you the hefty costs of a total lock replacement.

Quick and Easy

When working with an experienced locksmith, rekeying can be done in virtually no time. Your locksmith will not require many tools or complicated steps. So, if you are on a time crunch, rekeying can be done quickly, freeing up the rest of your day and giving you security with a quickness. 

Cons of Rekeying Your Lock

Though rekeying a lock is ideal for most lock change situations, it does come with a few drawbacks that are better offered by lock replacement. These include:

No Security Upgrades

If your current lock is already less-than secure, rekeying a lock will not be able to solve that problem. Rekeying a lock does not come with any high-security upgrades, so if you’re looking for added security, read on to learn more about lock replacement.

Can’t Fix Broken Hardware

When your lock hardware is broken, rekeying won’t do much to help. Since rekeying a lock only changes the internal pin combination, it will not replace any broken mechanisms. If you need new door hardware, a total lock replacement will be the better option for you.

What is Replacing a Lock?

Before you decide whether rekeying a lock is right for you, it is important to understand your different options. Changing a lock comes with two options. We’ve already covered rekeying, but you also have the option to completely replace your locks.

Replacing a lock involves removing the lock entirely and replacing it with a totally different one. This is a much more extreme and expensive change than simply rekeying the lock. 

Usually, replacing a lock will be a more costly, and much lengthier process since it requires a complete overhaul of your locking mechanism. This will completely change locks and require a more drastic change to your door hardware.

The Lock Replacement Process

When your locksmith arrives for total lock replacement, they will begin by removing the existing lock and door hardware. The locksmith will then replace it with a totally different lock body. 

Because this process requires all new door hardware, it will be more expensive and time-consuming than simply rekeying your locks. However, it may also come with added security benefits.

Pros of Replacing Your Lock

Much like lock rekeying, total lock replacement comes with various benefits and drawbacks. The choice to replace or rekey will have to be made depending on what your security system requires. Some benefits of lock replacement include:

New Aesthetic Options

If you have decided to change up the look of your home, replacing your lock allows you to customize the aesthetics of your lock. This can be useful if you want a more modern, or maybe more vintage, look from your locking hardware.

Lock replacement means you essentially have the opportunity to start from scratch. This leaves room for total customization of your lock’s look and feel.

Added Security Upgrades

Since you are basically starting over with your locks, total lock replacement gives you the opportunity to bulk up your security measures. This could mean adding automated locks, a stronger deadbolt, or any number of security bonuses. 

This might be a great option if you’ve recently welcomed a child into your family, or if you’ve invested in new and expensive high-ticket items such as a car or television. This is also a good option for those looking to upgrade to fancy, modern smart locks.

Cons of Replacing Your Lock

When replacing your lock, you are basically doing a complete overhaul of your locking mechanism and door hardware. This can lead to several cons, which might make lock replacement the wrong choice for you. These include:

Expensive Parts and Labor

Replacing a lock system requires all new hardware. This can get expensive, especially when upgrading to smart locks or fancy hardware. It also requires a lengthier process, which means paying more for your locksmith’s labor. 


The lock replacement process is much lengthier than a simple rekeying of your locks. This could mean taking a good portion of your day to oversee the replacement process. If you’re in a time-crunch, rekeying might be the better option for you. 

When Should I Change My Locks?

Rekeying and replacing are both methods of changing your locks. But, when should you consider changing locks in the first place?

Consider changing your locks when:

  • You move into a previously-owned home
  • You buy a used car
  • A former housemate moves out
  • You’ve lost your keys
  • You’re a landlord welcoming new tenants

Or, any other scenario where someone may have a copy of your keys without either your knowledge or permission. Knowing when to change your locks can keep you and your belongings safe from any unnecessary vulnerabilities.

When Should I Rekey My Locks?

Usually, if you are on a budget or your existing lock is in good condition, rekeying will be the better option for you. This is a much faster, cheaper process than total lock replacement. 

In addition, you want to be sure the purpose of your lock (what you’re securing) hasn’t changed. For example, you haven’t put anything extra valuable in your home that might require more secure locks.

Remember, rekeying is a process of changing out the lock pin combination. This will allow you to get new keys, which can keep someone out of your home or car, but will not offer any upgraded security measures.

Rekeying your locks can also be a useful option when you want to reduce the number of keys you have to carry. Rekeying can be a simple way to make sure one key opens every lock in your home or business. 

When Should I Replace My Locks? 

There are several scenarios in which replacing your lock system entirely might be the better option for you. Though this will be more expensive and time-consuming, it could come with higher security.

Replacing your entire locking system can be useful if your locks are old or dysfunctional. In this case, rekeying wouldn’t be super helpful. So, if you want higher security from an old lock, it might be time to replace it entirely.

Another reason you may want to replace your locks is if you are looking to make an aesthetic change to your home. In this case, you will have to replace the lock for a new look, as rekeying will not change your door hardware in any way. 

A third reason is that you need a higher-security lock. There are many reasons to consider upgrading to higher-security locks, such as welcoming a new child or acquiring something especially valuable. In this case, you will have to replace it entirely with a new high-security system.

Which Locks Can Be Rekeyed? 

Any lock that can be replaced can also be rekeyed. This includes locks on your:

  • Home
  • Vehicle
  • Garage
  • Or in your Commercial Business

As long as the lock is not in total disrepair, it can be rekeyed. Even if you have lost your keys, your locksmith can pick the lock and rekey the mechanism.

Rekeying is especially useful for landlords. This allows you to ensure the safety of new tenants while keeping out old tenants who may still have a key.

Remember, even if someone has returned a key to you, there is no guarantee they haven’t made a copy. Anytime someone moves out of a home, or a previously-owned home, building, or car is purchased, rekeying is potentially in your best interest to ensure maximum security.

For commercial businesses, rekeying can be particularly useful in cutting down the number of keys required. If possible for your business, rekeying can make it so that only one key is needed for multiple locks. This can save you plenty of time, energy, and hassle.

When in doubt, it may be in your best interest to rekey your locks. An expert locksmith can help make this process easy, efficient, and inexpensive. 

Get the Service You Need Today

Now that you know the answer to the question “What is rekeying?” and you understand your options for changing locks, it’s important you take the necessary steps to keep your home safe. Don’t wait for intruders to wreak havoc on your life.

If you’re ready for 24-hour professional locksmith services to rekey your locks, contact us today by filling out this form.

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