When Should You Change the Locks on Your Home?
Do you feel safe in your home? When is the last time you changed your locks? If the answer is ‘never,’ then it may be time.
58% of burglaries involve forced entry. While that is a slight majority, that does mean than there are still a large number of burglaries happening every year where the person gains access some other way. If a key to your place is out there somewhere, that could be a way for someone to enter your home undetected.
We’ve put together this guide on when to change the locks to help you recognize if it’s time you called a locksmith. Read on to find out!
1. Signs of a Recent Break-In Attempt
You should replace your locks immediately if you ever notice signs that someone has tampered with them. Even if the person wasn’t able to get inside your home, their attempt may have messed up your lock to the point where your home is no longer secure. They may have even broken the lock, which could result in you getting locked out of your house at an inopportune moment.
If you notice any scratches or noticeable marks around the keyhole, that can be a sign that someone attempted to pick your lock. Any deformation in the metal housing that was not there before is a sign that someone tried to break the lock by force.
Report what you notice to the police and call a locksmith to come and check your locks to make sure they aren’t damaged. They will be able to recommend whether or not you should replace them, and will also be able to offer you options for upgrading your security to help you feel secure against future break-ins.
2. Just Moved Into a New Place
It is a good general practice to always change the locks when moving into a new place. You just don’t know how many copies of the keys are out there. The previous owner of your home could have been notorious for losing their keys.
They could have also given copies to the neighbors, or family members, or really anyone and forgotten to collect them before selling the house. Maybe the home is a repossession or the owner passed away and it’s being sold by the estate. In that case, the person selling it may have no idea how many copies of the keys exist and who has them.
Even when moving into an apartment or rental property, it is a good idea to change the locks. You have no idea who the previous renters were and if they made copies of the keys. We recommend making sure that your landlord changed the locks after the last tenant, and if they have not, asking them to or asking permission for you to hire a locksmith to do it.
3. Lost Your Keys
If you lose your keys, it’s also a good idea to replace your locks. If you have anything on your keyring that someone can use to identify where you live, they may be able to deduce what house the keys belong to and get into your home.
Here’s an example. Let’s say that you drop your keys out walking your dog. You were only halfway around the block when you did, so someone finds them on the sidewalk.
This person decides that you probably live nearby and now they have the keys to your house, so they’re going to go see if they can make some quick cash. On your keys you have two keychains; one is for your son’s school baseball team, and the other is your favorite football team. The thief now can deduce which school district you live in and that the house with the football team flag out front might be yours.
If you’re on a trip overseas and you lose your keys in another country far from home, and there’s really no way to trace them back to your home, then you might be safe to just make another copy of your existing key. The more likely scenario, however, is losing your keys near home, and you leave yourself wide open to theft and home invasion if you don’t change the locks when that happens.
When It’s Time to Change the Locks: Rekeying vs. Replacing
The term “change the locks” can really refer to either of two processes. They are each slightly different and you may choose to do one or the other depending on your needs.
Rekeying the Locks
Rekeying is the process by which a locksmith will change your existing locks to use a different key. They will do this by removing the lock cylinder from the lock and manipulating the key pins inside of the lock so that they are set up to receive a new key. This is a cheaper option in some cases because it utilizes your existing locks without needing new ones, so the only new thing you are getting is a couple of keys.
This process is fast and easy when a trained emergency locksmith performs it and you’ll only have to pay for their time- no new materials! The downside to rekeying is that you won’t really be able to upgrade your security, you can only change your current lock to accept a new key.
Rekeying also won’t work if the lock mechanism is broken, either from misuse or an attempted break-in. In that case, you would need to replace them rather than rekey them.
Replacing the Locks
Replacing the locks is just what it sounds like: getting entirely new locks and removing the old ones. This is more costly because you are paying for all new materials, but it does have some advantages. When you get new locks, you can upgrade to a higher level of security whereas rekeying won’t change the type of lock you have and how secure it is.
Keep Your Home and Family Secure
So as you can see, there are many reasons why you may decide you need to change the locks. Once you’ve made the decision, it’s pretty easy. Just give your local locksmith a call and set up and appointment, the actual work doesn’t usually take too long!
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