Does your house have too many keys? If your beach condo is anything like mine, you might have a key for the common front door, a key for your own unit, and another key for an owner’s closet. That is three keys and counting. You might still have different keys for a locked shed, outdoor shower stall, garage closet…you get the picture. Did you know you can straighten the jumble of keys out to a manageable number by simply rekeying a lock?

Quick story. During the rental season last year, I received a call from my renters that the key would no longer work the front door. It seemed as if it was the wrong key entirely. Of course, I followed with, “are you sure you have the right key?” After some troubleshooting over the phone, I determined I had to locate a locksmith.  I was so relieved when I finally secured someone that I did not think to insist that he replace the lock in almost any case and rekey to match my existing key.  Instead, I left the locksmith to do his job.  After the service call, I received a bill for repairs to a faulty latch. Faulty latch?  OK, it is not clear to me then how a latch could be stuck in a manner that the key would not work the lock…but my renters could use the door so I did not think much more about it. Then, during the offseason, I ran into the same problem with the front door lock…the key would not fit in the lock at all!  See video for the problem in action.

I decided to do what should have been done to begin with, replace and rekey a new lock.

Replacing a lock is somewhat self-explanatory it refers to changing the hardware out with a new knob and lock entirely. This is useful if you want a new color or style of hardware or maybe a different, more secure brand of lock. When you rekey a lock, you are adjusting the internal workings of the lock cylinder so that the lock functions with a different key.  While you could do this yourself, I would not recommend it. It requires adjusting the pins and springs inside the tumbler. Most lock pin sets are a few hundred dollars and this just would not be cost-effective. If you need to rekey multiple existing locks, call a locksmith. However, if your situation is similar to mine and you need to replace a lock but do not want a new key, look to buy the same brand of lock (in most cases Schlage or Kwikset) and ask the hardware store to rekey that new lock to match your existing key. Lowes and the Home Depot will both do this, typically for another $5. Keep in mind that different brands of lock (Schlage, Kwikset, Medeco, etc.) cannot be rekeyed to work with each other. If you have different brands you will need to opt for one throughout. I highly recommend Schlage and you will have no problem locating that brand in stores. So get that mass of keys in order and rekey your locks!

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