Lock rekeying is the process of changing the lock code. The lock is taken apart and the locking pins are replaced with new pins and springs, then new keys are cut to match the new locking pins. At this point the old keys will not operate the lock.
The reasons for rekeying a lock are many, but they should all revolve around security and key control. Let’s say that a bank has 5 keys that open the bank doors, when they do an audit it is discovered that they cannot account for one key. They have two choices: replace all the locks that the lost key opened or rekey all those locks. If the door hardware is in good condition then the choice should be to rekey. A locksmith like beverlyhillslocksmith.org can do this job at the bank and cut new keys to match the rekeyed locks.
Key control is the process of knowing where all your keys are and who has them. If you can’t account for even one then rekeying should be your first action. Remember, without Control you do not have a secure facility. Most quality locks can be rekeyed and if the lock happens to be high security, then when it is rekeyed you will get a new registered code with registered keys.
Rekeying has an advantage if you want to change the keying sequence of your building. For example, if you have multiple doors that work with a different key (keyed different) and you want these doors to all open with the same key (keyed alike). All of these locks can be taken apart and rekeyed so that they all open with the same key. To take this a little further you can create a master system. This is when all the doors open with different keys, but you have one (master) that will open all the doors.
To rekey a lock, the cylinder must be made so that it can be removed from the padlock. Once removed the combination pins are changed to a new configuration and keys are cut to match. This process can be done many times. Not all padlocks are rekeyable though, it depends on the manufacturer, the manufacturing process and the cost. Most padlocks sold at big box stores are not rekeyable.
If you lose your keys and you want to make sure that your stuff is still secure you either have to purchase new padlocks or rekey them. The rekey process is much cheaper. For years high security padlocks were manufactured to be rekeyable. With these locks the rekey process is a little different. These types of locks use restricted lock and key codes. This usually means that only you will have those lock codes and therefore the keys to open those locks.
For businesses these types of locks offer many benefits:
The ability to change the lock codes quickly if keys are lost Padlocks can be keyed alike in groups from two to thousands There is the ability to create a master system Key control, you know where your keys are and who has them
There is another type of lock cylinder that go into padlocks. These are called removable core, SFIC or changeable. With these the complete lock cylinder is removed from the padlock and replaced with another one. The core can then be rekeyed and made ready for use in another padlock. The benefit to these types of locks is that anyone can change the padlock core. This helps to regain control of your keys immediately. Removable core padlocks are usually available only at service centers or locksmith stores and cost more than standard padlocks.
So how can you tell if a lock is rekeyable? For the average person it could be tough. If you go to big box stores the padlocks are usually carded, sealed in plastic and hung on a hook. Unless it is stated on the packaging it would be difficult to know. I don’t think that store personnel would be any help. If you want this type of padlock go to a professional Service Center.