Re-Key or replace?
September 7, 2015 9:54 PM   Subscribe

Should I attempt to re-key every lock in our new house, or buy new deadbolts and knobs? We're talking about two entry way doors, two external security doors, and one driveway gate with a deadbolt on it. There are a mix of different brands in the existing hardware.

Part 1 in what will likely be a long string of askme's regarding my first home purchase...
posted by latkes to Home & Garden (20 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I bought a $13 kit from Home Depot, it had pins to re-key 6 locks, it took maybe 20 minutes to do all 6 (3 deadbolts, 3 knobs). You'll need to get the right one, kwikset or schlage. $26 to get both kits if needed is still waaaaay cheaper than you'd pay to have someone do it, and it's just a matter of dexterity and being able to see the difference in color of pins.

If you'd prefer to have matching keyways, so they're all keyed alike, I'd suggest replacing whichever has the fewest (if 4 kwikset and 1 schlage, replace schlage) and then re-keying from there.
posted by HermitDog at 10:02 PM on September 7, 2015 [4 favorites]

Do you have good locks or crap locks? If your locks are crap, as 99% of locks are, then maybe it's a good time to replace them with something actually secure.

I've heard good things about Schlage Primus and Medeco (yeah you will pay $$$ for good locks though).
posted by ryanrs at 10:03 PM on September 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Anecdata: When we bought our current house 5 years ago, I replaced all the locksets in our house with a different brand/keyway than the originals. I was slightly paranoid about who may have had keys previously and I also wanted to make sure that if anyone did try to use a key it wouldn't fit into the lock so that they would immediately realize they were out of luck. This had the bonus effect of reducing the number of keys needed from 5 to 1. - I also got padlocks for the outbuildings that used the same keyway BTW.
posted by Zedcaster at 10:39 PM on September 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

We replaced our locks with keypad locks and it is awesome. I'm able to go for a run or ride my bike the grocery and not needing to carry keys. If you need to give someone access to the house, then your create a code for them and delete it when they done. Seriously, every time I go through our gate or door I appreciate those key pads.

If you decide to replace the locks, consider keypads.
posted by 26.2 at 11:02 PM on September 7, 2015 [6 favorites]

Whatever you end up deciding, good for you for doing this now! I moved into my home a number of years to go and have kept putting it off; it's not ideal but I'm so used to it by now. Starting out on the right foot (right lock?) is the way to go! That said, I'd go for redoing it all so everything is up to snuff and the same key works for everything (unless you want otherwise.) Granted, it may not be possible right now due to funding but I'd go with a few estimates from reliable locksmiths and take it from there.
posted by smorgasbord at 11:13 PM on September 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

2nding keypads. We just got them and they are awesome! No digging in my bag or pocket for keys when I've got an armload of stuff. And being able to make a guest code is great too.
posted by vignettist at 12:30 AM on September 8, 2015

Personally, I'd replace everything with keypads. My ex had them on the front and back doors in his house, and it was great--no worries about losing your keys, and no worries about "oh shit did I lock the door?"
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:06 AM on September 8, 2015

We recently had a bad experience of being locked in the house because of a keyed bolt that exploded in the locked position. Had to use an alternate door with no exterior lock (garage was full of reverting pulled in for Hurricane Erika) until we pulled it apart. It was a four year old kwikset re-key able bolt (key out side knob inside).

My vote is replace and add keypads in protected areas (garage doors).
posted by tilde at 1:37 AM on September 8, 2015

Anyone shopping for locks ought to sit down for a few hours and watch some youtube videos. Search terms are "locksport" and "lock bumping". Good times!
posted by ryanrs at 1:57 AM on September 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

I had a number of locks/doorknobs that were simply wearing out after about 20 years and replaced them all (4 doors with deadbolts) with Kwikset Smartkey locks that are designed to be very easily rekeyed. I would definitely recommend that alternative. As a bonus, when you replace all those locks at once you end up with plenty of keys and know where they all are. Easy to do myself and not too expensive; wouldn't even consider using a locksmith for that job.
posted by TedW at 5:03 AM on September 8, 2015

Keypads are awesome!! I totally recommend getting a keypad on at least one door and changing the rest to regular locks that are keyed the same as the keypad. One key plus the ease of the keypad.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 5:34 AM on September 8, 2015

The Kwikset Smartkey has a very weak internal mechanism: 1 2

You should probably avoid the Kwikset brand on general principle. None of their locks are even moderately secure. This is why you only see them in residential buildings. You'd never see them in, say, a school or hospital.
posted by ryanrs at 5:35 AM on September 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

What happens with keypads when the power fails? Would you be locked in or out?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:40 AM on September 8, 2015

They aren't wired to house power; they have batteries.
posted by ryanrs at 5:54 AM on September 8, 2015

After seeing some of the other comments, I certainly wouldn't blame you for not using Kwikset locks; my other thought that it is an easy job to do yourself (shouldn't require more than a screwdriver for tools) stands. The one potential problem is the driveway gate, depending on whether it is a standard deadbolt or something made for that purpose that is not as easy to find/work on.
posted by TedW at 5:56 AM on September 8, 2015

Response by poster: It's funny, those Kwikset re-keyable locks are the top of the grade B locks on Consumer Reports. I guess they didn't know about the lock re-keying itself problem because commenters on the site complain about the same issue.

My understanding is door locks are basically all crap. Every lock is easily overcome with a cordless drill except for the very expensive high security locks. In that category, they highly rate the Medeco Maxum locks but they cost 200 bucks and more for installation if you don't do it yourself. Anyhow, in terms of security, I think locks aren't really all that effective, so I guess I like the idea of not worrying too much about it, but replacing whichever brand is more crappy and then re-keying everything to match.

You all have really got me interested in the button system though. Seems like I should do at least one door with that!
posted by latkes at 7:32 AM on September 8, 2015

You're right: most locks out there are easy to drill, other than the super expensive ones.

That's why multi lock systems are often used, such as having two different types of locking mechanisms, such as regular locks, deadbolts, etc. All you are trying to do is add time for the intruder when they try to get in: the more time it takes, the less likely they are to get in.

TL;DR: I would go with your current thinking. Do a quick online search and check if your keypad model has already been hacked.

(If you have as a supplementary goal to make your house less burglar friendly, remember to check how the windows lock, sliding doors, etc. Many US police departments will offer a free inspection of your house and point out any weaknesses.
posted by troytroy at 8:38 AM on September 8, 2015

Nobody drills locks when they can just kick in your door frame or break a window. Which does bring into question the fundamental utility of high security locks in a residential building. For all the posting I've done in this thread about good locks, I don't use them in my own home. I did use them in my business though, and considered it worthwhile.
posted by ryanrs at 1:09 PM on September 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Nthing the numbered keypad. It's especially great for house or pet sitters, so you don't have to exchange keys and/or get them back. Congrats!
posted by Dashy at 5:26 PM on September 8, 2015

Do not, under any circumstances, get self re-keyable locks. Those things are terrible and can be bypassed with shocking ease.

Inventory all your locks by type and go to either a locksmith or Lowe's. Tell them you want matched locks of the same type with the same key for all of them. NOT re-keyable by you. They will use their locksmith kits to key them all for you and hand them to you at no charge beyond the package price of the locks. When I did this Lowe's took the one dual same-keyed lockset in my basket and keyed all the others the same as it. They all work flawlessly and are not subject to the many vulnerabilities of the "key it yourself" garbage.
posted by Bringer Tom at 8:26 PM on September 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

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