Sep 28, 2020
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7 Steps Emergency Locksmiths Follow When Rekeying A Lock

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You may be unaware that instead of replacing your lock, you can have it rekeyed instead. It is much more affordable than purchasing an entire locking system. It is essentially similar to replacing your existing lock. Unless your lock’s critical complement is damaged or you want an entirely new lock, you may want to consider rekeying instead. 

Rekeying a lock essentially involves replacing the pins and springs within the lock cylinder. These are the small mechanisms that allow the key to work. Many locks can be kept in service by having it rekeyed by an emergency locksmith.

You may be thinking about how long the entire rekeying process takes. Or, if you can do it yourself. This article outlines the rekeying process that most professional emergency key service follows. First, you need to know when you have your locks rekeyed.

When To Rekey Your Locks

Rekeying a lock is more cost-efficient than replacing the entire locking system. As such, it is recommended that you hire an emergency locksmith the moment you experience one or more of the following scenarios:

  • Revamp an old locking system – If your lock has been in your home for a couple of years, it is possible that the internal mechanisms are not working as they should anymore. Corroded pins or damaged springs may cause the lock to malfunction. In case the entire lock structure is still sound, you can have it rekeyed. Just note that you will have to use a new set of keys and retire your old ones.
  • Lost key – When you lose a copy of your key, it increases the possibility of someone breaking into your new home. Instead of getting a duplicate of the key, it is much safer to have it rekeyed. This improves the security of your home by making sure that the old key will not work anymore. 
  • Use only one key on different doors – If you have a relatively old home, you probably have had some of your locks replaced throughout the years. That means you are using different keys for different doors, which is cumbersome and inconvenient. You can have your locks rekeyed and have them match only one set of keys. Aside from the convenience, it is much easier to track a single set. 
  • Moving into a new home or apartment – It is a good practice to rekey the locks if you are moving into a new home or apartment. After all, you do not know if the previous tenant or other people have a copy of the key to your new place. This ensures that you are the only one who has access. Ask your landlord for more assistance in contacting a locksmith rekey service as it could be a part of their standard process for new tenants.

How An Emergency Locksmith Rekey A Lock?

Rekeying a lock will only take a few steps when done by a locksmith who offers key locksmith services. They are typically trained to evaluate and address issues in an efficient manner. Furthermore, they have the knowledge and experience to determine whether your locks can be rekeyed or you need a new set. 

While each locksmith has his specific workflow, they follow these steps when rekeying locks.

  • Consultation and assessment of the locking system – Before the locksmith even considers rekeying your locks, he will collect relevant information about why you want it done. For example, when you want to consolidate all your locks to use only one key, the locksmith will examine the types of locks that you have. If they have different keyholes, you may have to replace the lock on one of the doors in order to use one key. 
  • Purchasing a rekeying kit – A rekeying kit, also known as a pinning kit, is usually available in your local hardware store or online retailers. However, if you do not have any experience with rekeying, it is best to contact an expert right away. They can help you identify which kits fit your needs and what tools you need to buy. Take note of the capacity of the kit as some can only rekey a couple of locks.
  • Disassemble the lock – Locks are assembled and disassembled differently depending on the model and manufacturer. The locksmith may need to read the manual from the manufacturer’s website to remove your particular lock cylinder. 
  • Remove the lock cylinder and the cylinder retainer ring – A retainer tool is required to remove the retainer ring from the cylinder. It is important to remember that there should be no key inserted into the plug. Be careful as the plug could slide out unintentionally, which will cause the springs and pins to fly out. Most comprehensive rekeying kits should include a cylinder follower, which will prevent this from happening. 
  • Remove the lock plug – This step will require extra care and attention. The current key is carefully inserted and turned as if unlocking the lock. This will separate the lower and upper lock pins. Then, the plug or cylinder follower is carefully guided into the cylinder to remove the plug.
  • Replace the old pins with the new ones – At this stage, the old pins can be easily removed. Then, the new key is inserted into the cylinder. Using a tweezer, the new pins are inserted. The locksmith will carefully follow the color scheme that is laid out in the instruction sheet. Additionally, it is important to ensure that the plug is pinned correctly. In case the plug is pinned incorrectly, special tools will be needed to remove and repin the plug.
  • Reassemble the lock – Now that the new pins are inserted, the lock is reassembled by following the previous steps backwards.

How Long Does It Take To Rekey A Lock?

Lock systems come in different types, such as cylinder, mortise, unit, and rim, which means they have varying mechanisms as well. As such, rekeying locks will depend on its type, model, and manufacturer. 

An experienced locksmith will only take a few minutes to disassemble, remove the old pins, repin the plug, and reassemble the lock. It may take a little bit longer if you are using a complex lock. However, this assumes that you already have the proper rekeying kit. You will have to purchase this with the help of your manhattan locksmith

Furthermore, the locksmith may include extra steps before rekeying your lock. A significant part of their workflow is to assess the condition of your locking system. Based on his recommendation, he may push through with the rekeying process or recommend that you replace your locks altogether. He will also estimate the amount of time needed to get the rekeying accomplished. All in all, the entire process should be done within an hour or so. 

But, with references and tutorials available online, can you rekey your lock yourself?

The answer is simply, no. Unless you have the experience, you will need the expert eyes of a lock expert to examine the issues of your locking system. Even before the rekeying process, there are some signs that the locksmith looks out for, which will tell them the root cause of the issue, if there are any. For example, if the internal mechanism is significantly damaged that it becomes difficult to turn the key when inserted, then you will need to replace it instead of rekeying. 

Furthermore, even with step by step instructions available online, rekeying is a complex process that can be only fully learned through training and on-the-job experience. You might end up damaging the internal parts of your lock, as these are tiny and sensitive. Doing so may result in more expenses and more time.


Replacing your locking system is often expensive and time-consuming. Many people are not aware that their locks are still in good condition and can be rekeyed instead. Furthermore, there are various scenarios it is highly beneficial to do this. For example, if you lost your key, your locks can be rekeyed to replace the old keys. This ensures that your old key cannot be used to break into your home. In fact, it is usually a standard procedure in most apartment complexes when a tenant moves out, and a new resident moves in. 

An expert emergency locksmith will only need a few minutes to rekey a lock. However, this assumes that he already knows the type and model of the locking system. Additionally, he will need more time to review the manufacturer’s manual in order to properly disassemble and reassemble all the components. Coupled with the consultation and the assessment of the issues, the entire process is usually done in less than an hour.

The steps involve carefully disassembling the lock using specialized tools and the rekeying kit. This is where the expertise of the locksmith comes in as the steps are complicated, and requires concentration and focus. 

It is important that you do not attempt to rekey the lock yourself. The internal mechanism is sensitive, and mistakes in following the instructions may result in replacing the entire locking system. 

Instead, contact Sherlocks Locksmith at (929) 445-5494 when you need a professional locksmith to examine your locks. Our experts will assess your locks and provide recommendations. You can even consult with them if you are planning on purchasing a new lock system or a rekeying kit.

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