Schlage Locks: Setting the Industry Standard

Residential and Commercial Security

When to Re-Key Your Locks

Both commercial and residential property owners know how costly it can be to re-key locks.  Fortunately, this is one expense that can be avoided, save for a few critical times and occasions in the life of a building.  Avoiding re-keying altogether though in the hope of saving money can actually cost far more in the end than the cost of re-keying (even if it means re-keying more than once.)

Residential property: It’s thought to be standard advice and common sense: when you purchase a new house, the first thing you should do is re-key the locks.  This is a simple way to prevent former owners or anyone else who may have once owned a key to that home from getting into the house.  Yet it’s estimated that one-third to one-half of home buyers do not actually re-key the locks on their new homes.

Failure to do so opens residential property owners up to a great deal of risk.  Even when you purchase a home from someone you know and trust, changing locks is still necessary.  It’s impossible to tell who may have obtained copies of keys from previous homeowners, whether by honest or dishonest means.  It’s absolutely critical to assume that there could be dozens of copies of keys (or more) to your new home circulating about.  The only way to ensure complete protection is to re-key every exterior lock/door on the home.

It’s also a good idea to change the locks to any outbuildings on the property too.  This includes sheds, garages and greenhouses.  Even if you don’t plan to store valuables inside these buildings, it’s still important to restrict access in order to prevent vandalism and arson.

Re-keying locks is a definite MUST if your home’s security has been breached.  Change locks after a break-in, or after your house key has been lost or stolen.

Commercial property:  The “rules” are a bit more complicated when it comes to re-keying commercial property locks.  How often you do so depends on a number of factors, like the size of your building, the number of employees that work in the building, the number of employees who have (or have had) keys, how much foot traffic the building gets, etc.

Some business and commercial property owners advocate changing locks once every other year.  While this may be ideal, it isn’t always practical, nor is it always necessary.  Small businesses with few staff members (five or less) and little staff turnover can probably get away with re-keying less often; every three to five years perhaps.  On the flip side, larger businesses may also be able to get away with re-keying less frequently if tight key restrictions exist and/or very few staff members have keys.

On the other hand, big buildings/businesses that have large staff and have distributed dozens of keys may want to consider re-keying every one to two years.  The expense is well worth it if it protects from the costs associated with theft and vandalism.

No matter what size your business or commercial building, ALWAYS re-key locks:

  • After a break-in or theft.
  • After theft of keys to the building.
  • After an employee loses a key.
  • If an employee quits without returning assigned keys.
  • After terminating a key-holding employee.

Many key and commercial hardware suppliers have key-control solutions that can be tailored to fit the needs of specific businesses.  Security companies may also be able to do “security audits” and make security and key recommendations based on those findings.


June 30, 2009 - Posted by | Commercial and Residential Security

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