FAQ: Rekeying or Replacing a Lock?

Rekey Vs Replace
Rekey Vs Replace

Rekeying and lock replacement, although often envisioned to be the same, are much different processes and should be used in different circumstances.  Here I will outline the differences in each of these processes, and explain a situation where each one would work.


Rekeying is a matter of completely reconfiguring the tumbler, which is the internal structure of the lock.  Locks work through a network of internal pins and openings; only a set and very specific aligning of these will cause the tumbler to decompress and unlock.  Rekeying is done without having to replace the existing lock.  The pins and openings of the lock structure are placed in a new order specific to a new key, while maintining the appearance of your door.  Old keys will be useless, and only the new key provided to you will work.


Lock replacement is done by completely removing the entire lock structure and replacing it with a new one.  There is a large variety of different lock types to choose from, including electronic options.  Replacing a lock needs to be done precisely, and so is best handled by a professional.


You should rekey your locks when:

  • Moving into a new home or office.
  • Your keys are lost or stolen.
  • Your keys aren’t working properly.

It is a common, inexpensive process that greatly increases the security of your home or office.

Replacing a lock should be done when:

  • Locks are damaged.
  • Locks are too old to be able to find parts to rekey them.
  • You’re unsatisfied with the quality of your locks so far.


Jason Cornell
Licensed Locksmith
Anchor Security & Locksmith


Key & Lock Services Lake Norman

Key & Lock Services
Key & Lock Services

A good portion of our job involves the key, re-keying or the creation of access keys for our customers.  There are literally thousands of keys, shapes, sizes and functions available so many that most people get stressed out when they realize a new key must be created.  Then they are impressed at how we do it, how fast in many cases and how affordable it is.

Take for example: a friend of a friend needed a key made for a motorcycle.  The key was lost and the owner figured he would just replace the ignition switch, so he cut the wires.  My friend told him about us and our services, even asked him for the switch because he was going to be in the area the next day.  I obtained the Suzuki motorcycle ignition switch from my friend and we talked for a minute or two.  He asked that I call him when it’s ready and the owner would pick up the new key and ignition switch, I stopped him mid-step when I said “It’s Ready”.