Is It Better To Replace A Lock or Re-Key?

There are certain situations that make it a good idea to change or re-key a lock. For instance, when you move into a new home, when your roommate has moved out, after a divorce, when you have lost your keys, or when your keys and locks become worn or faulty. But, how do you determine whether it is better to replace the lock entirely or if it can be re-keyed?

To understand which is best, it’s important to understand what rekeying actually entails. Rekeying should only be done on locks that are in good working order already. Basically, the inside working mechanisms will be changed out to be new and require a new key, leaving the outside hardware in tact. This often means a huge cost savings as opposed to changing and replacing the entire locking system. Though, sometimes replacing the lock is the only or best option.

When you re-key a lock, the locksmith will remove the pins inside the lock and replace them with new pins that can be opened using a brand new key. This is a good option when you are sure that someone stole your keys or know that someone has access to your house at any time uninvited. The safe option is to re-key the lock when you are sure someone else has possession to your keys that unlock your door, and you do not trust this person.

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 not functioning properly or a completely new style of lock is wanted by the home owner, several locks are able to be rekeyed and kept in working condition for a long time. Some even claim their rekeyed lock operates even better than ever.

To get technical, the locksmith will remove the pins and springs inside the lock cylinder and replace them with new ones leaving the outside hardware, door knobs and such, in tact. A qualified, experienced locksmith will be able to quickly determine whether or not a rekeying or a lock replacement is your best choice.

Control The Spares

The most common reason to re-key a lock is to regain control of the spares. Simply put, gaining control of the spares merely means accounting for all of the keys that have been duplicated and made to operate the locks. Once you give a key to a friend or family member, the key control is lost. Rekeying also gives you brand new spare keys that you can control as to who has access to your locks. You not only have the peace of mind knowing no one else has a duplicate key, but you now have fresh spare keys that you can tuck away in a secure place only you know about or give to someone you know you can trust so that you can easily and quickly access it if you ever lose your keys again.

Sometimes, in an apartment complex or condominium, keys are created on a master key system. This means, the landlord has ultimate control over who has what keys. But, even in these scenarios, a key could get in the wrong hands. Plus, you always know that the landlord has a key to enter your premises at any time. Though, whenever you change locks out or re-key them in a leased property, you will probably need to obtain landlord consent first.

However, the master key concept is still at play in many single-build communities. The locks are often construction master keyed. This means that while the use of your key may prevent the future use of a contractor’s key, there are often master pins left in the lock. Each master pin is going to double the number of keys that will operate the lock. Often, there are as many as 16 different keys that could open a single home’s locks. Rekeying eliminates the potential of another key opening the lock since rekeying removes these master pins.

Problem With The Locks

Before you lose your keys, you may not have noticed any issues with the locks they once opened. During the rekeying process, the experienced locksmith will identify any other problems that the lock may have and will often be able to fix these issues. This is all done as part of the rekeying process and is nothing you probably would have ever noticed. When the rekeying is done, your lock will be left in a much safer and efficient functioning condition.

When Should You Replace and Change The Locks Entirely

Rekeying is not always the best solution. Sometimes, under certain scenarios, it is better to just go ahead and change out the entire locking system by replacing the lock instead of the more budget-friendly alternative of rekeying. One case that would warrant a lock replacement is when the lock hardware is worn out or beginning to show a great deal of wear and tear and cannot be repaired. In this case, you will need to find a trustworthy locksmith to install a new lock for you.

Another reason you might choose to replace your lock instead of merely rekeying it is when you need to upgrade your security. Do this by upgrading the lock. You might even decide you want an electronic lock. Either situation will mean that the existing locks will need to be completely changed out and replaced rather than rekeying them.

Some lock manufactures offer a lock that the consumer can re-key themselves. These locks are not the standard pin tumbler locks. To allow rekeying of these locks without fully disassembling them entails working with a lot of extra intricate parts that are easier to bypass than traditional locks and can lead to malfunction.

When you need your locks rekeyed or changed out and replaced, be sure to consult a reliable locksmith nearby who will know the best option for you to pursue and will be able to give you a price quote for the hardware and labor. While rekeying is usually the most cost-effective option in terms of saving money, you may have no other choice but to improve your security measures by replacing the entire lock. While the latter choice may be pricey upfront, it will be well worth it in the end.

Bump Key

A bump key is a special key that has been cut to work with the mechanics of pin tumbler locks. A bump key does not follow the proper key cutting that is designed to properly align with the key pins. Instead, it is cut with low peaks and wide valleys that are designed to force the pins through an impact, hence the name, “bump”.

They are used, sometimes in the hands of the wrong people, to pick a lock and gain entry. It is estimated that more than 95% of conventional home and business locks are vulnerable to being picked using a bump key.

Bump Key Can Damage Locks

Depending on the lock, how often a bump key has been used on the lock, and the amount of force applied, bump keys have been known to leave permanent damage to the lock.

Pin Tumbler Locks

Bump Key Colorado Springs Bump keys work with pin tumbler locks, so to understand exactly how a bump key works, you must first understand how a pin tumbler lock functions. Pin tumbler locks are made up of:

  • key pins
  • Driver pins
  • Located within the core and cylinder


The key pins and the driver pins are inside the same pin hole. They are pushed together by a spring to prevent the core from rotating.

Shear Lines

When you align the key pins and the driver pins to allow a separation between the two pins to align with the separation between the core and the housing, you create a shear line. The shear line allows the core, or plug, to rotate inside the cylinder.

When the properly cut key is inserted into the keyway, the key aligns the gaps between the pins with the edge of the lock core and pushes the pins into alignment along the shear line. This allows the core to be rotated and the bolt work to be retracted and unlocked. If you insert a key that has not been cut for that specific lock, the gap between the pins will not line up with the gap around the core, so the core will not rotate because the shear line has not been formed.

How Bump Keys Are Used

A bump key can be made using a key that already fits a specific lock, or some are even crafted by burglars in their home. Once made, the bump key is partially inserted into the lock so that one pin, or notch, stays between allowing full insertion of the key. With very little movement of the bump key, it is eventually fully inserted, relying on the spring tension of the pins to align the bump key. The person using the bump key then applies an impact force, referred to as a bump, to force the key deep into the lock. When this force is applied, the key pins jar, and the driver pins jump for a split second, aligning and creating a shear line. Once the shear line is established, the lock can be opened.

Is Lock Bumping the Same as Picking a Lock?

Lock picking requires patient skill that usually leave little or no damage to the lock. Bumping a lock, however, relies heavily on the actual bumping technique, that ultimately forces the lock open and can damage the lock in the process. Most professional locksmiths are equipped with the proper tools needed for opening a lock without leaving any damage to the locking mechanisms or the outer assembly of the lock.

Top Reasons For Locks Change

Are you 100% certain that you and those you trust are the only people who have access to enter your home or business? Sometimes a locks change is the most secure way to reduce the risk of break-ins, but how do you know when a full change of locks is necessary?

Start Fresh and New With a Clean Slate

Maybe you just moved to a new home. Maybe you have left an unsettling life situation and want a fresh start. Maybe there was an attempted break-in on your home or business or nearby. Maybe your locks are worn out or damaged. Or, maybe you’ve lost your keys? and want to provide a roommate, family members, or workers with a new set of keys. Learn the top reasons to make a locks change. Read More