How To Rekey a Smart Lock: Your Questions Answered
Smart locks and smart home security systems offer upgraded security, enhanced access control and lots more customizability than traditional locks, but what about longevity? Fortunately, smart locks offer plenty of long-term value, too, thanks to optional rekeying. Just as you can change your smart lock’s access code or eKey to suit your security needs, you can change the lock itself as you see fit — all you need is a little bit of elbow grease.
What Exactly Is Rekeying?
To understand rekeying, it helps to understand that smart locks are composed of the lock itself, plus various smart features controlling the operation of that lock. Smart features help you control when you can access a locked door and who can access that door, but the lock itself is still a physical mechanism.
Most commonly, locks found on doorknobs and deadbolts are pin and tumbler style locks (like Lockly’s 6-pin deadbolts and 5-pin latches), wherein pins of various lengths enable specially cut keys to be inserted into the lock and to turn the lock. To rekey a smart lock, you can replace the entire cylinder with a new one, or keep that cylinder and change the configuration of the pins to work with a different key.
Can Smart Locks Be Rekeyed?
Yes, smart locks can be rekeyed. Lockly’s smart locks, for instance, can be rekeyed with commonly available rekeying kits.
There’s one important exception here: it should go without saying that keyless types of smart locks cannot, of course, be rekeyed as they don’t have a key to begin with.
Is Rekeying a Smart Lock Easy?
“Easy,” of course, works on a sliding scale of experience and comfortability. For some homeowners, rekeying a smart lock is a do-it-yourself project. In fact, various manufacturers offer smart lock rekeying kits for just that purpose.
Alternatively, rather than learning how to rekey a smart lock yourself, you can choose to hire a locksmith to rekey your lock. According to Home Advisor estimates in 2022, rekeying a home lock typically costs about $80 to $160 when you hire the job out. For most homeowners, trusting a professional with the job is the safest bet. The difficulty of the job also varies, with smart lock devices mounted over an existing lock type being the easiest to rekey. Lock replacements with mechanical backups are a bit more complicated, as they require complete disassembly of the mechanism.
What You’ll Need
To replace the cylinder entirely, DIY-ers and locksmiths alike will share some common tools when rekeying smart locks, some of which may be included in pre-made rekeying kits. Again, the process can vary, but some staples for rekeying include:
- A re-pinning set
- Follower tube tool
- Key blank and new cut key
- Pinning tray
- Core shim
- Key gauge
How To Rekey a Smart Lock
While the minutiae of rekeying a smart lock vary per lock, the basic process can be broken down into disassembling the lock; removing the pins; and replacing the pins with ones that match the cuts in the new key. Typically, the process goes like this, whether you do it yourself or hire a locksmith:
- Remove the doorknob from the door
- Remove the cylinder from the inside of the lock
- Remove the C-clip that holds the cylinder in place
- Remove the key plug from the housing using the follower tube tool included in your rekeying kit
- Attach the key plug to the back of the cylinder and insert the new key into the lock
- Push the cylinder plug out of the cylinder while you leave the plug follower inside to hold the pins and springs in place
- Dump the old pins out of the plug
- Remove the key
- Insert the new key
- Insert the new pins
- Replace the plug
- Replace the C-clip
- Reattach the knob to the door
Know When To Rekey
While you also have the option of replacing the lock entirely instead of rekeying the lock, rekeying offers a more affordable solution that often makes a lot more sense. If all of your door locks share the same brand or the same type of keyhole but use different keys, rekeying can help streamline that.
Have you purchased a new home? Are you renting out a space to new tenants? Or maybe you’ve lost a copy of your old key and you want to prevent anyone from using that key to access your home? It might just be time to consider rekeying your smart lock. For further information and assistance, contact our support team.
Dan Ketchum is a freelance writer and small business owner with 13 years of experience. He’s been fortunate enough to collaborate with publishers and brands such as Fortune, Toshiba, Samsung, The Seattle Times, The Motley Fool and more along the way.
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