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Doors & Windows


Door Locks & Deadbolts

I recently purchased a house and I find myself debating between: (1) replacing the door locks and deadbolts on the external doors of the house; or (2) having them re-keyed. I would either do it myself (I'm a fairly handy person) or hire a professional locksmith. I can't seem to reach a decision and the research I have done has not been terribly helpful. What considerations should I think about when making a decision? Is there an advantage to re-keying as opposed to replacement? Is there an advantage to having a professional locksmith either replace the door locks or re-key them over doing it myself?


I'd like to make sure the job is done properly but I don't want to simply flush money down the drain by hiring someone else.


Any thoughts would be much appreciated.

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Posted 2013-01-22T02:18:37+0000  by CRSpartan01 CRSpartan01

Hello CRSpartan01.


As a Home Depot associate who regularly re-keys locks, I thought I might give you a little insight into the process.


In order to change the lock to accept a new key, we need to have a key that currently works the lock mechanism.  We cannot "pick" a lock, and to disassemble a lock a working key is needed.  In only a few cases can we take a lock cylinder apart without a working key, so in general the first thing we need is that original key.  Obviously if we are talking about changing a new lock, the key is supplied so that's not a problem.  One other thing.  The key needs to physically fit into the lock, which in practical terms means you have to stick with the same brand of lock most of the time.  For example, a Schlage key will not fit into a Kwikset lock, but a Defiant key will.  Any Hardware department associate can help you with this.


Once the lock is opened up, we replace the 5 or 6 cylinder pins with new pins whose length corresponds to the notches in the new key.  When reassembled, the lock will now operate only with the new key(s).  Every Home Depot store has one or more associates who can re-key locks, and the cost is minimal.


One problem we run into is trying to re-key any lock to a customer's key which has been copied many times over.  A factory original or first generation copy will work fine, but successive generations of copies lose the tight tolerance of key notch depth.  These copies will often work in an old, worn lock with a certain amount of jiggling, but when used in a new tight lock the pin sizes don't line up so the re-key cannot be performed.  In these cases we recommend the purchase of at least one new lock.  The re-key process can then be done with a new factory key on the remainder of the customers locks.


So to address your first question:

"(1) replacing the door locks and deadbolts on the external doors of the house"

While many folks replace locks to achieve a new look or improve security, the only need for a new lock arises from wear.  Locks do wear out over time, and you can tell simply by how loose the handles and mechanisms have become.  Worn out locks need to be replaced.



"(2) having them re-keyed. I would either do it myself (I'm a fairly handy person) or hire a professional locksmith"

Even if you are not so handy, removing and replacing door locks is a very easy task.  You need to have a Phillips screwdriver.  The re-key process can take 2 forms.  The traditional cylinder pin replacement I have discussed above is one.  The other involves a higher end style of Kwikset lock called Smart Key that allows you to easily re-key your own locks at home without taking them apart.  In any event, since your local Home Depot can re-key your locks and you can easily remove and replace them I see no need for the expense of a locksmith in your decision.  One thing to keep in mind is that if you take the locks in to a store, they are temporarily not protecting your home.  Having someone at home while you do this, or removing just the deadbolt and leaving the handle lock in place, (or vice-versa), takes care of this issue.



The only advantage to re-keying old locks over buying new locks is cost.  However, when buying new locks you may want to have their keys all be the same.  This process is also easily done, and we can usually select at least some of the lock types to have the same factory key so you end up with as many new original keys as possible.  This also cuts down the time you have to wait for the re-key process to be done.


Just a couple other thoughts:

The price of locks does vary quite a bit.  More dollars will buy better security, longer life and/or higher cost-to-make components.  Usually features like lever handles are more costly than knobs.  Solid brass locks cost more than hollow ones.  In addition, the better locks will often have cylinders coated with powdered graphite while cheaper ones are oiled which does not last as long.  Oil also attracts dust and dirt which will greatly increase lock wear over time.  I always recommend powdered graphite as the only way to properly lubricate a lock.


We are eager to help.  Let us know is you have any more questions.






Best Answer

Posted 2013-01-22T18:01:07+0000  by Chris_HD_CHI

HI CRSpartan01,


Let me begin by saying, "Welcome to The Community"!!! Also, I remind you that we ARE The Do-It-Yourself Warehouse.


Replacing residential door locks is a reasonably simple task. It sounds like you already have deadbolts installed, so The Home Depot can re-key your locks for a fraction of the cost of hiring a locksmith. You will need to bring the locksets in to your local store’s hardware department where one of our associates will assist you.


If you wish to replace your locksets with new ones, we can also match the new sets to use one key for all. Since the holes are already drilled, replacing the old sets for new ones is as easy as getting the old locks re-keyed.


Come in and see our inventory of door locks. Our helpful associates are eager to help.



Posted 2013-01-22T14:31:14+0000  by Travis_HD_ATL

Hi Newf!


I was looking around to see if I could figure how to install ceiling fans by myself and noticed you had posts and your name stood out as my mum is from Newfoundland.  Is that why you call yourself that or do you raise the dogs? LOL


Thanks for the insight on ceiling fan installation.



Posted 2013-01-23T20:33:56+0000  by Ceta67

Hello Ceta67.  Welcome to the Community!


Why Newf?


My wife and I had the good fortune to spend 10 years with a Newfoundland dog.

Her name was Bridget and she taught us so much about patience, inner strength and loving life.

To this day I aspire to match the best qualities of her gentle temperament.



Posted 2013-01-23T22:45:17+0000  by Chris_HD_CHI
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