Published June 26th, 2024

When should you replace door locks?

Written by Level Home Staff
5 minute read

When should you replace your door locks?

Door locks are a critical component of any home, providing the first line of defense against unauthorized entry. Over time, various situations, such as moving into a new home, experiencing a break-in, or dealing with worn-out mechanisms, can necessitate lock replacement. Read on to learn about key signs it's time to replace your door locks.

7 signs & situations where you should replace your door locks

1. Moving into a new home

Changing locks when you buy a house is essential because you never know how many people, including previous owners, real estate agents, or contractors, might have copies of the old keys. Installing new locks ensures that only you and your trusted family members have keys, providing peace of mind and enhancing your home's security. Beyond that, you get to add a personal touch to your new home by choosing new door hardware that matches your style.

2. Lost or stolen keys

If you lost your key or if someone stole it, you don’t know who might use it to enter your home. On the other hand, consider all the people you’ve given keys to – old roommates, service providers, and exes might even have your keys after a breakup. Instead of trying to remember all the people who may have the key and collect all the keys, it’s far easier to change or rekey the locks.

If you’re worried about security, consider upgrading to more secure lock systems, such as smart locks, which offer features like keyless entry and remote access control, ensuring your home remains safe even if keys go missing.

It’s worth noting – there are many different types of smart locks on the market, some with unique features that may be better suited to your needs. For example, many smart locks offer a keypad option for keyless entry and some, like Level locks, allow you to create temporary unique codes for visitors to use. A feature like this means you get complete control of who can access your home, without giving away your regular passcode.

3. Wear and tear

Door lock hardware has pins, springs, and moving parts that can be worn out or damaged by constant use. Rekeying the lock will not help fix the damage to the internal mechanisms, changing the lock is the only way to fix a damaged or worn-out lock.

Signs of wear and tear on door locks, such as rust, corrosion, and physical damage, are clear indicators that the locks are no longer in optimal condition. These issues can compromise the functionality and security of the locks, making it easier for them to be tampered with or fail completely. When you notice these problems, it's a good sign that your door locks need to be replaced.

4. Difficulty operating the lock/malfunctions

SImilarly, when a lock becomes difficult to operate, such as jamming or sticking, it indicates potential underlying issues and signals that it's time to replace your door lock. Other malfunctions, like a lock not latching properly or difficulty turning a key, can indicate potential internal damage or wear that could lead to complete failure.

Not only will a broken lock compromise your home security, it can also lock you out of the house or pose issues when someone else needs to enter your home. You might know just how to turn and jiggle your house key to get the deadbolt to open, but will your dog walker?

5. After a break-in attempt

After a break-in or attempted break-in, you’re left rattled. What better time to replace your locks than when you need renewed faith in your home security? Give yourself and your loved ones peace of mind by changing the locks.

Depending on the situation, it’s better to do more than just rekey the locks as they may have been damaged or tampered with, compromising their effectiveness. Damaged locks can easily be manipulated, leaving your home vulnerable to future intrusions – the last thing you want after you just dealt with one.

6. Outdated locks

Older lock models are often vulnerable to modern break-in techniques, such as lock picking and bumping, due to outdated security features. Old locks might also be worn down or malfunction as they age. Consider replacing those older locks on your doors with newer models that incorporate advanced technologies and stronger materials. When choosing your new lock, consider upgrading to the security and peace of mind that a smart lock offers.

7. Personal preference and aesthetics

Changing locks can be a significant part of home renovation efforts, not only for functional upgrades but also for aesthetic reasons. Like we mentioned earlier, new locks can complement updated decor and architectural styles, enhancing the overall look of your home. Beyond aesthetics, modern and stylish locks can add value to your property, appealing to potential buyers and improving the overall marketability of your home.

Replacing vs. rekeying old door locks

You do have the choice to rekey old door locks rather than replace them. However, for the DIYer, rekeying a lock is a bit more complicated than replacing one because it requires a rekeying kit. If you hire a locksmith, there's not much cost difference between having them replace or rekey a lock. The cost is almost the same or more, ranging from $80 to $300 depending on your geographic location. And as we mentioned, in some cases rekeying is not an option, like when a door lock is damaged.


Signs such as wear and tear, difficulty operating locks, and instances like moving into a new home are clear indicators of when to replace door locks. It's important to recognize these signs and situations, so you can maintain a functional, frustration-free, and safe door into your home.