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Changing the Locks in your New Home


Change_door_locks_in_new_homeHave you ever wondered who has a key to your home? Chances are someone out there could gain entry if the locks weren’t changed when you moved in. You may want to add to your moving checklist, spending the extra money on new locks and keys for your peace of mind. Even if your home is brand new construction or in a new development, you should consider how many copies of keys have been made for the home and how many contractors have access.  Remember, one of the first steps to making your new home your own is obtaining control over who has access to the front door!

A friend of ours recently told us a story that made the hairs on the back of our neck stand straight up.  She and her husband bought a fixer upper and immediately called a locksmith to change all the locks. Her next-door neighbor spotted the locksmith working on her front door.  The next-door neighbor left an envelope in her mailbox the next day with a copy of the old key inside with a note explaining that the previous owner gave him a copy for emergencies.  Who knew that anyone else had a copy of the old house key?  Thank goodness our friend changed her locks!

You can do-it yourself or call a CML (Certified Master Locksmith) to completely replace the locks at your house.  A professional can re-pin the locks to a random new key. Have a professional locksmith inspect your premises for a security check and have him make recommendations for replacement locks and other devices to put you at ease. You can also go to your local home center and browse the lock aisle. And yes, it is safe to get the locks so they all use the same key. A wide variety of manufacturers sell lock packs set up with the same key. It is convenient and does not compromise the security of your home. Locksmith fees can vary considerably, so call around and get several estimates. Make sure the locksmith is licensed and bonded and always check with the Better Business Bureau for complaints. Also, don’t forget the garage door code!  Especially if it has a key pad entry code.

As for making a key from outside, a skilled locksmith can make an impression. This is using a blank key. This is very labor intensive and involves someone quite familiar with locks, who has the correct key blanks and equipment.

If you would like to do-it-yourself, you can save a lot of money and time


  1. Check the length, the “backset”, of the locking mechanism. Measure from the latch edge of the door to the center of the lock. Many new locksets are adjustable for the most common lengths, 2 3/8 inches and 2 3/4 inches, but checking will help avoid another trip to the hardware store. If you plan to take the old lock with you when shopping for the new one, skip steps two and three.
  2. With the door open, use a screwdriver to remove the screws on the ring around the lock. These will be on the side of the door facing inside.
  3. Once the screws are removed, grasp both sides of the doorknob or deadbolt and pull them apart. Keep the door carefully propped open. If it closes on you, you’ll have to reinstall the knob or use a screwdriver to unlatch it.
  4. If you were able to buy the same lock, you should be able to skip this step and step five. Otherwise, you’ll need to remove the throw bolt and latch of your doorknob if you’re replacing a deadbolt. They are easily removed by unscrewing the two screws that hold the metal plate on the edge of the door. 
  5. Place the new latch in the hole on the edge of the door and use the screws provided to attach the plate. If your lock is a different brand or style, you may have to use a chisel to enlarge the depression on the door where the plate sits.
  6. Work the two halves of the doorknob or deadbolt lock into position and use screws to secure them to the door. Remember, the plate with the screws goes on the inside of the door; otherwise, anyone with a screwdriver will be able to remove the lock.
  7. Test the lock a few times to make sure it’s working properly.

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