With so many issues to be concerned with in daily life, the last thing you need to worry about is your home security being threatened by inferior or compromised locks. Strong, quality locks on your front and back doors give you confidence. That’s not just when you’re away. It’s also when you’re relaxing inside, taking a shower or sleeping.
Locks are your last line of defense in protection from burglars or unauthorized intruders. Home burglaries are common throughout the United States, and it’s not always a total stranger that sneaks into your house. Unlawful entry can well be from someone you know. That could be a previous tenant, an ex-roommate or even a separated significant other.
Preventing illegal entries is your first step in a proactive approach to home security. The best security systems rely on a layered approach that integrates several devices. Good exterior lighting and clear visibility are a few of these. Motion-activated sensors are another excellent security tool. But nothing beats the value of good quality locks where you have proper key and access control.
When to Replace Door Locks
There are a number of situations where you may not have complete control of your locks. These might have occurred before your original home possession or from an event while you were away. No matter what the cause of compromised locks, there are solutions available for you to regain access control. Knowing when to change your locks will also give you peace of mind.
How often should you change your locks? That depends on different situations, so let’s take a look at the top ten reasons for replacing door locks. Then we’ll examine the best solutions, including some of the popular lock products and services available.
You’ve moved into a new home and taken possession of existing locks.
Even if your home is brand new and the builder presents you with keys for your front and back door locks, you have no way of knowing if others have duplicate keys. That could also include master keys.
Many builders use construction locks that are universal to their business. They keep these utility locks on doors during the building process and recycle them from house to house. Their team of subtrades and suppliers are given service keys for the construction locks, which makes day-to-day building access convenient. A competent builder will swap out construction locks for exclusive homeowner locks at the completion of the job, but you have no way of knowing who else may have keys.
Realtor lockboxes are commonly attached to homes offered for sale. This includes new homes in development communities as well as existing homes in established neighborhoods. A key for the home’s door is stashed inside the lock box, but there’s a mass of access to it. You also have no way of knowing if this key was exclusive or copied about.
Purchasing a home from an existing owner has its security risks, too. You might receive “the keys” upon completion of the sale and use them to move in. But you have no assurance that these keys were copied many times not just by the previous owner but by others before in the chain of possession. That includes family members, guests and tenants if the home had been rented out.
Don’t assume you’re getting solid lock security when you buy a new house. It’s cheap and valuable insurance to replace your door locks, and you’ll relax in peace, especially when you’re asleep or in the shower.
Your house has been broken into.
Burglaries are a terrible invasion of your personal space. They can be emotionally upsetting, never mind financially expensive. When you’ve experienced a break-in, you have to assume the worst. The worst-case scenario is that the burglars who did it now have possession of your keys and have control of your locks.
Even if you have a tight inventory and you feel all keys are accounted for, don’t take the chance. You can’t be assured your keys aren’t in wrong hands. Replacing your locks is a small price to pay to offset the possibility they may return for the rest of your belongings.
Many burglaries are committed by manipulating, picking or cheating the locks. If this was the method of entry in your burglary incident, it means you have inferior locks, and the break-in could easily be repeated. Locks are also damaged during break-ins and make them more vulnerable to future forced entries.
Take insurance issues into account after experiencing a burglary. If your keys were taken and a burglar returns, your insurance company may find fault that you failed in taking due diligence for prevention. This could negate a future insurance claim that could be prevented by replacing your door locks.
You’ve lost your keys or had them stolen.
Unfortunately, this happens far too frequently. Losing your keys is one thing. It’s terribly inconvenient to be locked out and ask someone with duplicate keys to come over and let you in. It’s also expensive to call a locksmith to attend and open up.
Having your keys stolen is entirely another matter. With lost keys, you assume someone else has access. With stolen keys, you know they’re in criminal hands, and a possible clandestine visit is only a matter of time. The sense of pending violation with stolen keys is too high a price to pay, and there’s only one solution.
Regardless of whether you’ve simply lost your keys or had a sinister theft of your best security control device, the best thing is to immediately replace your locks. Don’t let time pass in the hope your keys will be found and returned. Change your locks before the price becomes higher.
You’ve completed a renovation.
It’s common in renovations for many tradespeople and material suppliers to need access to your home while you’re away. This could be carpenters, painters, plumbers, electricians and tile setters. It might even be your general contractor.
Even if you thoroughly trust your main contractor, you have no idea who the subtrades are and who they’re associated with. There’s no guarantee your house keys won’t be duplicated and handed off to shady characters.
Replacing your door locks at the completion of renovations will be a tiny fraction of your overall remodeling budget. It’s economical protection to invest in new locks.
You want a change of style.
This goes hand in hand with renovating your home. Changing style is probably one of your main reasons for upgrading your look and feel. Locks may be a small contributor to the overall plan, but it’s these small details that make your big and beautiful picture.
Your old locks may be a different brand than you prefer or manufactured in an era that shows dated style. Your existing locks may be bright brass when you’d prefer brushed nickel. Or they may be shiny chrome when your palette calls for dark steel.
Making the choice to change your locks is not difficult. It’s choosing the right style from multiple products that could be the challenge. But then, that’s part of the fun in redecorating.
Your locks are inferior or poor quality.
So often in older homes or places that are mass-built in tract developments, builders use the cheapest products possible to get the maximum return on their dollar. Unfortunately, when it comes to locks, it could mean security was sacrificed for savings.
Inferior or poor-quality locks are easy for burglars to break or pick. In fact, the quality of locks is often one of the main things thieves assess when casing a place. They know the marks of bad locks. They also know good locks when they see them.
Replacing your old, low-cost locks with newer and superior products is a deterrent to burglars. They know it’ll be tough to break in and not worth the effort. That, in itself, is worth the investment.
Your locks are old and worn out.
Locks wear out. Like any product with moving components, locks succumb to fair wear and tear. Years of repeated turning and twisting take their toll on door locks, and eventually, they’ll fail.
Take a look at your locks for signs of stress. This might be tarnish or rust. They might be stiff or extremely loose. Your locks could be in the throes of failure and ready to pack it in without warning.
Old, worn-out locks are easy to jimmy. Burglars know this and work it to their advantage. New locks are tight and tough to pick, making it impossible to open them without the right key. There’s a saying that locks are for honest people, but the real key in home security is to let honest people in and keep dishonest ones out.
You’ve ended a rental or roommate agreement.
This is a common reason to change door locks. Many people supplement their income with subletting a room or apartment with a rental tenant. Giving them keys to the house naturally goes with the agreement.
Once the arrangement comes to an end, it’s natural to get the keys back. Most tenant or roommate agreements come to a positive end, and all keys are returned safely and securely. Occasionally, this doesn’t happen, and keys to your home may be “floating out there,” as the figure of speech goes.
Tenants or roommates also have reason to give keys out to others. This could be without your permission or knowledge. To be sure of access control once an occupant leaves, it’s a good idea to replace the locks, even if you’ve taken in someone new.
You’ve gone through a break-up or divorce.
This is one of the nastiest circumstances where you might be forced to replace your locks. It might be for your actual safety, not just your sense of security.
If your relationship with a significant other has ended and they’ve been forced to vacate, make sure you change your locks and be very cautious who gets keys. Many people have experienced unwanted return visits from estranged spouses. Keeping them locked out is your main line of defense.
Your lifestyle changes through a disability.
Acquiring a disability is a sad fact of life for many people. It may happen to you as you age, or it may be a deteriorating condition with someone who lives in or frequents your house.
Many locks aren’t designed for people with disabilities or mobility issues. Being able to insert a key, turn it and twist a door handle is challenging for some. For others, it may be a near impossibility. Fortunately, there are simple solutions for handicapped access, and that includes door locks designed for people with disabilities.
Think outside the old lock-and-key arrangement. Today, there are sophisticated entry-pass systems that work on smartphone application and coded security. Investing in a smart lock system gives you a versatile security solution that allows for remote keyless entry with the ability to issue limited access permission.
Solutions for Replacing Your Door Locks
The simplest solutions for solving your security challenges are rekeying or replacing your door locks. Both involve some expense, and there are pros and cons to each approach.
Rekeying your locks is straightforward, but it takes someone with professional locksmithing ability. This is more than taking your lock and key to a local hardware or big box store for copying or cutting.
In rekeying, a locksmith removes the lock cylinder and alters the springs and pins to accept a new key profile. Often these parts are worn and have to be replaced. That can raise the cost over and above what an entire lock replacement will run.
Replacing your door locks is usually the best solution. It gives you the longevity of a new product and the assurance that its quality will endure anything a burglar can throw at it. Buying new locks also fits in with redecorating schemes and presents a bright, fresh glow to visitors as they approach your front door. Dollar for dollar, your best value will be in replacing your locks rather than rekeying.
If you’re planning to replace your door locks for any of these ten reasons, make sure you consider installing a new, high-technology keyless entry system like a Smart Lock. Smart Locks offer sophisticated solutions for replacing old, outdated locks. They utilize virtual keys. Numerous benefits include keyless access, increased security, remote locking capability, timed automatic locking and the unique ability to create one-time access codes for temporary visitors.
Ernie’s Lock Co. is Maryland’s Smart Lock installation expert. We carry a number of high-tech products and can match the best system for your home. Exceptional quality and reliable brands include Schlage and Medeco that are backed by comprehensive warranties to ensure years of trouble-free security.
Ernie’s is proud to provide residential service to some of Maryland’s most prestigious addresses as well as service to commercial businesses. We provide house calls to rekey or replace your existing locks and emergency service for accidental lockouts.
Since 1960, we’ve been building a reputation for reliable service, transparent pricing and exceptionally high-quality work. Consulting with a professional locksmith like Ernie’s is the best way to determine your lock replacement needs. Contact Ernie’s today to request a quote for lock rekeying services in Maryland.