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FAQ – Ask A Locksmith

For all lock smith related questions you may have

Security experts are at your service!
 
Q:   Why should I use a professional locksmith company?
A:  Skilled professional locksmiths bring experience and fund of knowledge in lock, safe & security problems and are better prepared to solve security issues to your unique situation. A professional locksmith can prescribe state-of-the-art products that work, and more effective solutions in an efficient manner.
 
Q:   I have a key marked "Do Not Duplicate." Can I get a copy of it anyway?
A:  Keys marked "Do Not Duplicate," " Do Not Copy," or "Unlawful to Copy" may be duplicated only if a letter of authorization from the owner or supervisor is presented with the request for duplication. The letter should be on company letterhead and identify the key to be made, the number of keys, the person picking up the keys, and the name and number of the person writing the letter. The person picking up the keys will be required to fill out a "Request for Restricted Keys" form. We reserve the right to refuse to duplicate any key marked "Do Not Duplicate."
 
Q:   My key does not insert or withdraw easily or it has difficulty turning.
A:  First spray the lock with light penetrating oil (such as WD-40). This oil can be found at most hardware stores, but can even be found at some drug stores and supermarkets. Don't be afraid to spray too much, but have a paper towel handy to pick up the excess. Spray the oil into the keyhole and onto the bolt mechanism. Move the bolt in and out to allow the oil to penetrate into the lock. Do not take the lock apart if you are not confident you can put it back together.
 
Q:   The lock doesn't lock and unlock smoothly.
A:  After you have tried the above solution, check to see it the lock operates smoothly with the door open. If it does, your The lock problem is not in the lock, but rather in the alignment of the door and frame. Look for obstructions at the threshold and in the door jammed. Also check the door and frame for twists and warps. The door should completely rest against the door stop and stay there. If the door rests at the stop at the top or bottom only then the door or frame is twisted. If the door springs open then the hinges are probably binding. If you have weatherstrip on the door, it could be obstructing the path of the door. Keep in mind, wooden doors and frames will warp and swell with temperature and humidity, and metal doors and frames will twist and rust with age.
 
Q:   I have lost my car keys.
A:  Sometimes a key code is available. You will only have access to this code if you are the original buyer of the keys. This code is typically written on the original bill of sale which you may have or the car dealership may have. Rarely, these codes are written on the cover of the owner's manual. So check this as well. A key by code can save you money over having a key fitted to the car on-site. Expect to pay from fifteen to fifty dollars for a key by code.
 
Q:   What is the difference between rekey & master keying.
A:  Re-keying means adjusting the tumblers in an
existing lock so that only new keys can open it.  Many people, who continue to use the same key that they received when they bought their home, have no idea of how many people such as tradesmen, neighbors and friends etcetera, who are no longer relevant, have had access to that key. Most technicians can re-key your locks and give you the security of knowing that only you and the people you trust will have access to your domain.Lost your keys? Relax; re-keying will adapt your existing locks to new keys.
All-Time Locksmith installs, replaces and upgrades lock cylinders, locksets and deadbolt locks.

Master Keying

Did you know that you might need only one key for all the locks in your house or business? Locks of the same manufacture can usually be keyed alike. This means replacing your bunch of keys with a single key.

Master keying enables two different and distinct keys to open one lock. Master keying regulates access to specific zones while having one master key that accesses all zones. Master keys can be supplied for all buildings such as hospitals, office buildings and residences in which there are a number of compatible locks.
Now its possible to re-key your home, gate, garden shed etcetera so that one key opens them all.

  1. Lock cylinder removal and assembly
    This section deals with cylinder removal and assembling a wide variety of common locksets
  2. Using shim stock
    This section deals with using shim stock during the process of removing a cylinder. Other methods of removing a plug can be dealt with, even when no key is available
  3. Using a LAB multi pin kit.
    This section deals with using a LAB multi pin kit with its 20 pinning charts.
  4. Tips and tricks
    This is the most useful section in this series. Tips and tricks save you valuable time.

Please note:
Re-keying only restarts a cycle. There are number of reasons for home or business keys falling into the wrong hands.

Duplicating standard keys is a simple matter. They only have to be taken to a locksmith at any store. Nobody asks for identification or proven authorization before duplicating keys. Even copying the serial number on a key makes its duplication possible.

Re-keying your locks doses not solve all your problems. It only restarts the cycle that leads to expensive repetitive re-keying.

In order to maximize the scope and flexibility of a new system, you should evaluate your current and future organizational needs.

Q:   Is the "Do Not Duplicate" marking on a key enough for controlling key duplication?
A:  No. While the "Do Not Duplicate" marking on a key is usually respected, many discount stores do not. To effectively prevent unauthorized key duplication, a restricted key lock should be used.
 
Q:   Can I buy lock opening tools?
A:  No, it is illegal in most states to sell or possess burglary or entry tools.
Locksmiths will not sell entry tools to anyone.
 
Q:   Is there such a thing as a key that can open all locks?
A:  No. A "master" key is a key which works many locks. In order for a particular master key to work in a lock, the lock has to be set up to work on that master key. Locks are typically master keyed in hotels, office buildings, and schools. Rest assured that there is no such master key that opens all locks.
 
Q:   I can install the hardware, why not just buy it at the home center and do it myself?
A:  Products typically sold in home stores are residential quality at best, at worst the shelves are stacked with low end products meant to increase profits for the manufacturer and the retailer. High quality goods offer characteristics such as, pick and drill resistance, access control options, protection against the unauthorized duplication of keys. The question you have to ask is what is your time really worth?
 
Q:   My landlord gave me the keys why should I get new ones?
A:  It's your stuff! When was the last time the locks were changed? If you don't know the answer then you and your company are potentially at risk. Some property management companies in an effort to save money simply swap the locks from one unit to another and have a brand new set of keys made. A previous tenant with some time to kill could simply try his key in each door in the complex until he finds one that works.
 
Q:   Why do I have to wiggle my keys in the lock to make it work?
A:  As locks age over time, the pins in a lock cylinder tend to "wear" down causing your keys to stick and forcing you to "jiggle or wiggle" the key in the lock to make it work. Most likely the keys you were given have probably been "copied" several times and this, plus pin wear, can cause your lock to act like it is breaking.
 
Q:   I am moving into a new home, should I rekey the locks? They seem to be working properly.
A:  The answer is YES! Everyone has someone that they trust with their house keys; this does not mean you can trust them. How many neighbors, old baby sitters, cleaning people are walking around with the key to your home? Change the locks and then give keys to people you and you alone trust.
 
Didn't find your answer?  More information in our Locksmith Glossary page
 
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