How Does a Locksmith Rekey a Lock? 

A lock rekey is the process of changing the keys to an existing lock so that it will work with a new key. Locksmiths are able to perform this service in a variety of situations, including when locks are lost or stolen and when people move into a home without having their own key. 

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Rekeying a lock is an alternative to replacing a lock altogether, which makes it the preferred option for many homeowners. Replacing a lock is expensive and time-consuming. However, rekeying your lock can save you money and is often more secure than replacing it. 

When Do I Need to Rekey a Lock?

The most common reason to rekey a lock is when a homeowner loses their keys. This can occur when someone moves into the home or when renters or housemates leave but still have a key. In these cases, it is important to have the locks rekeyed so that only the owner can gain access to their home. 

How Do I Know if My Lock Can Be Rekeyed?

Most locks come with a built-in feature that allows them to be rekeyed. This feature is called a “keyway.” In order to rekey a lock, the manufacturer must have standardized the keys that will work with the lock. To test if your lock can be rekeyed to use a specific key, try the key in the door and see if it can slide into the keyhole. If it will not, the cylinder plug of the lock has been modified to prevent it from working with that key. 

If a locksmith rekeys your lock, the technician will remove the key pins from the lock and replace them with new pins that match the cuts in your new key. These pins are referred to as “tumblers.” 

To rekey your lock, the first step is to remove the cylinder plug of the lock and take out the lower lock pins. These pins are roughly bullet-shaped and of different lengths. These are essentially the driver pins of the lock that push against the springs to open and close the door. The lower lock pins will be removed and replaced with new ones that are the same length as the new key. 

The new lock pins are then inserted into the slots. Once they are inserted into the slots, the technician will verify that they are of the correct heights to fit the key he plans to use in the lock. If they are flush with the plug, like in the image below, they are the right size to match the cut of your key; if they extrude from the plug chamber, they are too long and will not fit the key. 

Once the locksmith has verified that the new pins are the proper heights, they can reassemble the lock and the door will be rekeyed to the new key. This should only take 10 to 40 minutes per lock, depending on the amount of work that needs to be done.