When to Change Your Door Locks
Strong locks on your front and back doors are your first line of defense against burglars and other intruders. It's important to lock your doors to prevent unauthorized access to your home, but sometimes, your lock can be compromised. Certain situation such as moving into a new home, losing your key, even going through a breakup or divorce might require you to change the locks on your door.
- Moving in to a new home: When a home is for sale, there's typically a lock box on the front door, and any authorized agent can use a code to get in and access the key. Inspectors and other personnel may have access to the key as well. Any one of these individuals could make a copy of the key, or pocket an extra key that was in the box. Even the old owner probably held on to at least one key from the home. It's best to change your locks as soon as you move in, as it's impossible to know who might have a copy of the key to your new front door. This is a good idea even if you're buying new construction.
- Your lock is worn out: Even if you've been the sole key holder for years, you might need a new lock. Locks experience wear and tear, and with time, they will wear out. A worn or rusted lock can be easily picked or broken. Look for tarnish, rust, and other signs of wear to determine if you need to replace your lock.
- You've experienced a burglary: If a burglar has broken through your lock, it's a good idea to go ahead and change it. Even if they broke in through a window or other source, they may have nabbed or copied a spare key. You also may be a more likely target for burglary in the future, so you should invest in a better lock in case they come knocking again.
- You've lost or stolen your key: If your keys are lost or stolen, anyone can gain access to your home. This is especially dangerous if your keys accompanied any identifying information when you parted ways, such as attached to your wallet, in a purse, or in your car.
- You just completed a renovation: If you've handed a key off to a contractor or two, your lock could be compromised. Even if you trust your contractor, they may have let a sub contractor borrow the key -- or you may not know them as well as you think you do. Better safe than sorry; change the lock.
- You ended a rental agreement: If you've changed roommates or moved out an old tenant, it's time to update your locks. Even if a past tenant turned in their key, there's no way to be sure they don't have a backup copy.
- You've gone through a breakup or divorce: If a significant other has moved out, or you've broken up with a boyfriend or girlfriend who had a key to your place, it's time to change your lock. Like an old tenant, there's no way to be sure that they don't still have a key or a copy of a key lying around, even if they've returned their original key to you.
- Your lock is cheap or inferior: Often, builder grade locks offer little in the way of security. They may be easy to get access to with bump keys or other common burglar tools. Don't make it easy for burglars. Get a better grade of lock that will protect your home and make it more difficult to get access.
Recommendations for Updating Your Door Lock
- Consider rekeying: If you don't want the expense of completely changing out your locks, try rekeying instead. It's just about as easy, and not as expensive as a full lock change.
- Invest in a smart lock system: If you're upgrading your door lock, why not go with one that lets you open the door with a code? That way, you can offer temporary codes to contractors, dog sitters, and anyone else that might need access to your home. When you're done, simply disable their code, and you won't have to worry about changing your locks.
- Change garage door codes: While you're changing your locks for a new move in, remember to update your garage door code, too.