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Lock Blog

A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals

I Lost My House Keys! Should I Change My Locks?

by Hugo Reed January 29, 2018
Lost Keys Locked Out

Take it from someone who has been in the same boat as you, losing your house keys can be a challenging ordeal. However, the fact that losing your house keys can be challenging does not mean that the fallout is impossible to handle. What is the fallout of losing your house keys you might ask? Well, there are a couple of scenarios that every homeowner will have to take into consideration. Once you have a grasp on the effects of losing your house key, you will have a better approach to answering the question about whether or not you should change your locks.

The main fallout of lost house keys is security related. Your house keys are the gateway to your home, and losing this restricts your access, while potentially giving someone unfettered access to your home. It is for this reason that many homeowners ask about changing locks as a result of lost house keys.

Why should you change your locks?

Door locks are paired with their respective keys. So if you’ve lost your house keys, some aspect of your locks will have to change to compensate for this loss. A key determines the way access is granted or barred to your home. Homeowners should be aware of this fact when they are dealing with their lost keys. There is no law stating you should change your locks if you’ve lost house keys, but neglecting to do leaves your home security up to chance, and that’s not a safe bet. Changing your locks is the easiest way of negating any vulnerabilities that could stem from lost house keys.

When people talk about changing locks, they often assume the entire lockset has to be replaced. However, changing locks can apply to rekeying locks as well. The process of rekeying allows old locks to be retrofitted to work with a new key. Rekeying a lock means that homeowners will have a new key to use on their lock while simultaneously negating all previously working keys. In effect, a key aspect of the lock has been changed without doing away with the entire lock body.

Arriving at the final answer to the question about whether or not you should change your locks, depends on multiple factors. These factors range from how your house keys were lost, to the amount of money that you are willing to spend on changing your door locks because of your lost house keys. I will take the time to walk you through a series of questions that will help you arrive at your answer. Homeowners should always ask themselves these questions when trying to figure out if their locks should be changed because of lost house keys.

1. How did I lose my keys?

A homeowners decision to change their locks is often greatly influenced by the manner in which they lose their house keys. There is always a shroud of uncertainty that surrounds lost items. For the most part, this uncertainty stems from not knowing if you misplaced your keys or if they were stolen. Your course of action will differ depending on the status of your keys.

If your house keys were stolen, then the security and safety of your home should be prioritized as you consider changing your locks. On the other hand, if you happened to misplace your keys, there is a very slim chance that burglars will find your lost house key and trace it back to your home. In this instance, you can resort to other solutions that will not involve changing your locks. However, if your security is on the line you should absolutely change your door locks. If you believe your lost house keys were stolen, then there is a valid cause for concern.

Even if your lost keys were not stolen, you should be concerned if your lost house keys are accompanied by some other identifier. Keychains are widely used in many homes, and some homeowners place ID cards on a keychain, alongside their keys. If you lose your house keys as part of a keychain that has another identifying feature, you should change your locks to negate old keys. It is unlikely that someone will track you down to break into your house, but it is always better to be safe than sorry.

2. Did I lose a master key?

Homeowners should change their locks if the lost house key is a master key. Ideally, this should be done regardless of whether your house keys were lost because of theft or because of your own negligence. A basic understanding of master key systems helps to explain this. Master keys can be used to open up multiple locks. Essentially, a group of locks can be keyed in a manner that allows one master key to open each of them. However, each lock will still retain its individual key, and none of these individual keys will be able to open any other locks.

Losing the master key to your house can jeopardize the entire foundation of your home security and ignoring this is a risk you cannot take. If anyone gains access to your master key, they have access to every door that the key controls. In this instance, you will have the option to either rekey your locks or have them replaced. Unfortunately, you do not have the option of ignoring this scenario because of the security drawback is too great.

3. Do I have any budgetary restrictions?

A budget always has to be considered when you are making any changes to aspects of your home. The amount of money that a homeowner is willing to spend is a key factor in determining whether your locks should be changed because of lost house keys. Before I continue to talk more about budgets and budget restrictions, I would say that homeowners should try not prioritize cost over security. I know this can be hard to do, but if your security becomes secondary, it can leave you more vulnerable in the long run. For most homeowners, the final cost of a service will influence their decision, regardless of what other people have said.

The cost to change locks and the cost to rekey a lock vary a great deal, and complete lock changes tend to be the more expensive option. Now, it is safe to say that there are no right or wrong choices when it comes to changing your locks after losing house keys, but sometimes it might be better to replace a lock than it is to rekey and vice versa. For instance, if you need already need to upgrade your locks, it would make sense to have them changed rather than rekeyed.

For homeowners who might be restricted by a budget, I would advise that you have your locks rekeyed if you lose your house keys. If this is not the case, then take the time to consider the benefits you will reap from changing your door locks and upgrading.

4. Did I lose a spare key?

Lost Keys On Bench

Spare keys come in handy when you least expect them, and I always say that everyone needs a spare car key or a spare house key, even if they think they don’t. However, if you lose your spare house keys, you shouldn’t sweat it too much. I do not believe that losing your spare house keys warrants making any changes to your door locks. The only time I think you need to worry about lost spare house keys is if you believe them to be stolen. There are other cost effective solutions that homeowners can take advantage of in lieu of changing their locks because they lost a set of spare house keys. Some of these solutions include cutting a new key or rekeying any lock that was paired with the spare key. Each of these solutions is much cheaper than having a locksmith change your locks and install new locks.

5. Which locks do I currently have installed?

Looking out for security upgrade opportunities is always a good idea, and sometimes the best time to do this is when you have lost your house keys. Think of it is a blank slate that gives you the chance to reassess different aspects of your home. In this light, losing your key might actually be a blessing in disguise.

If you currently have high-security locks installed, then I would caution against changing your locks. You can rekey them and also look into methods that help fortify your physical security, but changing a solid bet like high-security locks would be unwise. On the other hand, if you do not have secure locks in place, it would be best to have new locks installed that cater to this need. Essentially, you will be killing two birds with one stone. By installing new locks, you do away with the dangers that losing your house key presented and you increase you overall home security at the same time.

6. Have I lost my house keys before?

I know that this might seem like an odd question to ask, but I assure that it is relevant. If you have lost your house keys in the past, I think that you should consider changing your door locks. In this case, when I say change I do not mean rekey. There are some homeowners who lose things rather frequently and house keys are a prevalent feature on this list. If you have the unfortunate habit of frequently losing your house keys, you should consider changing your locks to something that accommodates keyless entry. This usually means that you will have to enlist the help of a locksmith for a smart lock installation.

Keyless entry options will greatly reduce the possibility of your house key being lost. In addition to increased convenience, keyless entry options like smart locks help increase monitoring and accessibility. There are a myriad of locks that homeowners can choose from, and some of the best front door locks are smart locks.

If homeowners want to change their locks to smart locks to prevent the possibility of losing their house keys, they should take the time to understand the true definition of smart locks and see if this is the right choice for them. Conversely, instead of investing in smart locks, you can get multiple sets of spare keys to help you when you need them.

7. Do I have a set of spare keys?

As I briefly explained earlier, spare keys come in handy when you least expect them. Lost house keys usually equate to being locked out of your house and one of the quickest solutions to this problem is making use of spare keys. A set of spare keys will help you gain access to your home, which solves the first part of the problem. However, spare keys do not cater to the danger that made you wonder if you need to change your locks. Homeowners ask this question because they know that there is a slim chance that a lost house key could make them vulnerable.

Spare keys help you regain access, but they do not help you stay secure. If you are able to regain access to your home, do not grow complacent and think that everything is fine and dandy. There is still a key unaccounted for that could grant someone access to your home. The questions we walked through above should help you choose the perfect solution. Ideally, you should rekey your locks, or replace them. If you are absolutely certain no one will get a hold of your missing key, then the lock can remain as is.


As you can see, there is no clear cut answer to the question about changing your locks after you’ve lost house keys. Homeowners will have to weigh several different factors in order to determine which course of action will be best for them in terms of security, convenience, and cost. I hope that by now most readers understand the importance of security, so I hope you try and make this a priority as much as possible.

Should you change your locks after you’ve lost house keys? In most cases, you should. Take the time to understand the nature of your situation. Which type of key did you lose? Do you have a budget to consider? All of these questions will come to bear when you are considering changing your locks, and the answers to these individual questions will shape your decision and your home security.

Category: Residential, Safety & Security

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