6 Times You Should Change Your Locks
Burglaries are a fact of life. There is nothing we can do that will eliminate them completely. The best we can do is take a thoughtful, careful approach to protecting our homes in the best possible way. This includes properly securing doors and windows with good locks. And, it also means sometimes changing those locks. Here are several times or circumstances that should cause you to change your locks. A lock replacement is a quick and relatively inexpensive way to restore your sense of security in any of the following situations.
Your Keys Are Lost or Stolen
It is frustrating to discover your keys are missing, especially if you have no idea what happened to them. This generally causes an immediate disruption, as you look for a way to get back into your home. However, it can also create a longer-term liability. If there is any way your lost keys can be traced back to your home, you must immediately change your locks.
There are a couple of simple things you can do to make it harder for someone to link your house keys to your home. Don’t put address tags, phone number, or other personal information on your key ring. It may seem like a good idea because you hope someone will return your lost keys to you. But, the risk that some unsavory person will find your keys and have your name or address is just not worth it.
Also, don’t put your house and car keys together on the same key ring. If keys are dropped near your home, lost car keys can lead someone right to your door. Anyone who finds your keys can use the sound made by your car key’s lock button to locate which car is yours. Therefore, if the car keys and house keys are together, once they find your car in the driveway, they also have the key to your home.
Change Your Locks if They Are Old
Locks are mechanical devices. When older locks wear, the pins or wafers may not be as precise anymore. This can cause your lock to be more difficult to operate or fail altogether. Plus, as parts wear down, the exact fit between the lock and the key may become less precise, and make it easier for unwanted visitors to pick the lock. Installing new locks or rekeying your locks will help keep everything in good working order.
Change Your Locks When Relationships Change
Have you experienced a recent breakup or divorce? Did you have a roommate who moved out? Do you have a new babysitter, pet sitter, or housekeeper? All these are changes in relationships that should prompt you to replace your locks. Even if your are still friends with your former spouse or roommate, you still don’t want them to have uncontrolled access to your home.
Change Your Locks When You Move Into Your Home
It doesn’t matter if you have purchased your home or you are renting it. People who lived there before you may not return every key they have. Plus, they may have given out keys during the time they were living there that were never returned to them. In short, there is no way to know who has access to your home or apartment unless you start fresh with new locks.
This is even true with new construction. During the finishing stages of construction, various workers may get keys to your home in order to complete their work. So, if you are buying new construction, you should change the locks. If you are building a custom home, don’t select fancy lock hardware until after construction is complete and no one needs further access to the interior. Then, select the locks and door hardware you like.
Change Your Locks After a Major Renovation
As with new construction, major renovations open your home up to a lot of traffic. Unlike new construction, these workers can see what you have in the home. While taking something during the renovation may be too obvious, there is nothing from stopping workers from hanging on to a house key for a later visit to go shopping in your home. Any major work in your home during which you gave keys to anyone should be reason to change your locks. This is true even if those keys were returned since you have no way of knowing if the keys were duplicated.
Change Your Locks After a Burglary
Repeat victimization really happens, and more often than you think. There are several reasons a thief may come back. He may see items in the home that he is unable to take the first time. He knows he can easily get into your home and knows his way around it. Sometimes, burglars wait just long enough for you to replace some of the items they stole, like electronics, and then come and take your new stuff! One study shows the highest chance of recurrence in the first week following a burglary and then declining over the first month. So, it is very important to change your locks right away.
Do a Home Security Audit
If any of the above circumstances happen to you, make the most of it. Turn it into an opportunity to thoroughly review and upgrade the overall security of your home. There are many new types of locks on the market that may be a great fit for you. Some of them are completely keyless, making them impossible to pick. Some allow you to set multiple combinations that expire after a preset amount of time, so you can set temporary codes for guests or workers.
Remember, the goal is to protect yourself, your family, and your possessions, so take the time to do this right. Find a professional residential locksmith to look at your windows, doors, doorframes, and locks. They all must work together to stop a burglar. Talk to your locksmith and take his advice. If cost is an issue, lock rekeying may be the answer for you. Try not to let price over-ride quality, though. Overall, whatever it costs is a small price to pay for peace of mind.