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  • Broken Key FAQ

    Posted on October 3rd, 2017 | 0 Comments

    Here at Chicago Locksmith, we often receive calls regarding broken keys - one of the most common lock and door related issues in the industry. Our locksmiths are trained to handle this situation, and have long standing experience to get you a working new key in no time at all. Here’s some examples of the most frequently asked questions we get receive from our customers regarding broken keys.

     

    Do I have to replace my lock if the key broke off in it?

    Usually you won’t have to do so. Our locksmiths can get the broken aspect of the key out of the lock quickly - this is usually a simple and quick operation. However, we stress the importance of not trying textract the broken part of the key yourself, as you can cause damage to the lock this way.

     

    What’s the timeframe for a broken key extraction?

    These operations take under a half an hour.

     

    Do I have to rekey my locks?

    Nope. As long as you work with our talented locksmith professionals, the security of your lock will never be altered.

     

    Can you make me a spare key?

    Absolutely. As professional locksmiths, this is our bread and butter. We can do this with the pieces of the broken key, or with it’s biting code.

     

    Can I open my door by attaching two broken pieces of my key?

    Absolutely not. This can result in pushing the broken part of the key further into the lock, making it much harder to extract. When a key breaks off in a lock, make sure to contact a truly professional and trustworthy locksmith who can handle the job - don’t insert any random objects into the lock in an attempt to remove the key pieces, as this can complicate the damage rather than allowing you to fix it with an easier solution.

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  • Residential Rekeying FAQ

    Posted on October 7th, 2017 | 0 Comments

    Residential Rekeying FAQ

    Here at Chicago Locksmiths we often get asked questions about our residential rekeying process. Although it seems like it might be a straightforward process, rekeying actually contains many variables that can affect the efficacy of the entire operation. Here’s a brief guide to the most common rekeying FAQs that we receive from our loyal customers.

     

    Can this lock be rekeyed, or does it need to be replaced?

    Often you can rekey locks instead of fully replacing it. Good locksmiths will always provide rekeying as an option, and it’s always possible unless a major part of the lock is damaged or the customer desires a brand new lock. This is a cost effective and practical solution.

     

    How long does rekeying take?

    This depends on what type of lock you have. Experienced locksmiths can rekey a lock in a matter of minutes. However, some locks are more complicated which can lead to longer service times - but you can rest assured that the experts at Chicago Locksmiths can carry out any rekeying operation in no time at all.

     

    Can I try to rekey my lock myself?

    Rekeying is a much faster process when carried out by a professional locksmith. However when amateurs attempt to rekey locks themselves they often complicated things, and often damage the locks in the process. This is why we advise prospective customers against attempting to rekey their locks themselves/

     

    Should I rekey my locks if I just moved into a new house?

    Definitely. You never know who might have a copy of the key to your home procured before your move in date. There’s a possibility that your lock is master keyed, especially if there’s been any recent construction on it, which means that there’s definitely master pins still inside your lock - increasing the amount of keys out there that can be used to gain access to your home, property, and family.

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  • Types Of Car Keys

    Posted on October 9th, 2017 | 0 Comments

    Types of Car Keys

    There’s a wide variety of car keys that we commonly deal with in out capacity as professional automotive locksmiths. Here’s a brief guide to the types of car keys most commonly available today, as prepared by the experts at Chicago Locksmiths.

     

    Wafer Keys

    These keys are designed to open wafer locks and have grooves on the upper and lower parts of the blade. These double serrations are made so the key can be inserted in two ways, so the biting on both halves of the blade can move some wafers up and some wafers down. These locks are similar to normal pin tumbler locks. The wafers are spring loaded and the pins are raised to a height proportional with the wafers. The longer the wafer the deeper the lock groove, and vice versa. These locks do not’ offer fantastic security since there are many tools like Marshal keys, wave keys, and kiggle keys that can be used to open up the lock. Wafer keys can be upgraded with transponder chips that prevent thieves from being able to turn on the ignition of your car.

     

    Slider Keys

    These keys, not to be obvious, move sliders. They have a serpentine path cut into both sides of the blade, which, similar to as with wafer keys, can be inserted in two ways, and similar as raise or lower aspects of the lock. The sliders correspond to the path of the key’s cut, raising it to precise height. However, different from wafer locks, slider locks have multiple gates - with a single gate, the deepest one, being the one necessary to allow the lock to turn, and many additional false gates being present in order to provide additional security functionality. These are the ideal keys for the majority of smart key systems, as they are commonly integrated with electronic fobs.

     

    Transponder Keys

    These use multiple key systems in conjunction, the traditional slider or wafer key which unlocks the doors, or trunk according to normal pin raising/lowering principals, and a transponder chip - which fuses the technology of a transmitter and a responder in order to provide a unique and custom electronic signal that allows the key ring wrapped around the ignition cylinder to turn on the car. This security system will prevent unauthorized attempts to turn your car on if a misprogrammed or blank key is used. If a transponder key is lost you will need to program a blank transponder key to fit your car’s specific needs, a process which the experts at Chicago Locksmiths can easily carry out.

     

    Key Fobs

    This term describes the electronic remote part of a key that can unlock doors, open trunks, or even turn on the ignition in push button cars. They key fob works as a security token that authenticates that you are the authorized user through either near field communication, infrared, or Bluetooth technology. Some cars will automatically unlock when the key fob approaches its vicinity - these keys are known as smart keys, which can turn on your car before you are inside it. Key fobs can either be housed inside the key itself, or located in a separate device.

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  • Residential Rekeying FAQ

    Posted on September 23rd, 2017 | 0 Comments

    Here at Chicago Locksmiths we often get asked questions about our residential rekeying process. Although it seems like it might be a straightforward process, rekeying actually contains many variables that can affect the efficacy of the entire operation. Here’s a brief guide to the most common rekeying FAQs that we receive from our loyal customers.

     

    Can this lock be rekeyed, or does it need to be replaced?

    Often you can rekey locks instead of fully replacing it. Good locksmiths will always provide rekeying as an option, and it’s always possible unless a major part of the lock is damaged or the customer desires a brand new lock. This is a cost effective and practical solution.

     

    How long does rekeying take?

    This depends on what type of lock you have. Experienced locksmiths can rekey a lock in a matter of minutes. However, some locks are more complicated which can lead to longer service times - but you can rest assured that the experts at Chicago Locksmiths can carry out any rekeying operation in no time at all.

     

    Can I try to rekey my lock myself?

    Rekeying is a much faster process when carried out by a professional locksmith. However when amateurs attempt to rekey locks themselves they often complicated things, and often damage the locks in the process. This is why we advise prospective customers against attempting to rekey their locks themselves/

     

    Should I rekey my locks if I just moved into a new house?

    Definitely. You never know who might have a copy of the key to your home procured before your move in date. There’s a possibility that your lock is master keyed, especially if there’s been any recent construction on it, which means that there’s definitely master pins still inside your lock - increasing the amount of keys out there that can be used to gain access to your home, property, and family.

     

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  • Electronic Locks

    Posted on September 23rd, 2017 | 0 Comments

    Electronic Locks

    Electronic locks add a great deal of safety and security to private property. All the very best safe makers these days create specialty electronic lock systems. Of course, different technology has different pros and cons - so the balance of what mechanical lock and what electronic lock you use dictates the true levels of security in your property. Here’s a brief guide to electronic locks, as prepared by the experts here at Chicago Locksmiths.

     

    Electronic Lock Definition

    Electronic locks get unlocked or resealed through electric current that either powers an electromagnet, a solenoid, or a motor, which in turn activate the lock in either fail-safe or fail-secure ways.

     

    Fail Safe Locks

    Fail Safe locks open on the sides of the ingress if there is a power outage, or if an emergency alarm is activated. This happens because the electric current is used to keep the door lock, and by taking out the power you will disengage the lock technology.

     

    Advantages of Fail Safe Locks

    • Protects workers during emergencies
    • Allows large buildings with high traffic like schools or museums to maintain efficient and safe exits

     

    Disadvantages of Fail Safe Locks

    • If power is fully lost the building will no longer be secure.
    • Pulling the emergency alarm will unlock all emergency exits.
    • Will make buildings somewhat susceptible to crime during real or fake emergencies

     

    Fail Secure Locks

    These locks are the opposite of failsafe locks, and they use the electric current to retract the bolt. If there is a power outage, the bolt will remain locked.

    Advantages of Fail Secure Locks

    • Protects property during the time of emergency.
    • An electromagnetic pulse or power failure won’t disengage the locks.

     

    Disadvantages of Fail Secure Locks

    • This isn’t ideal in large buildings that have lots of traffic because it can slow the entry of emergency responders.
    • Evacuation can be blocked if door locks are fail secure.

     

    Not all devices are found in both fails secure and failsafe varieties. The majority of the time the way that the lock functions determines if loss of electricity would open or lock the door or other entranceway. Other types of electronic locks are:

     

    Electric Strikes

    These strikes consist of a spring loaded keeper that moves the lock’s bolt. Only when given the right cde will the keeper move allowing the bolt to retract. It’s installed on the side of the door frame or on the inactive door in double door situations.

     

    Electric Latch Retraction

    These fail secure locks have bolt functions that retract when electricity is provided, and it will stay retracted unless the current stops or is turned off. The bolt stays securely in place when there’s no current, so preparations have to be made for potential emergencies. However, they can be programmed to be opened by fire alarms.

     

    Electromechanical Locks

    These locks are available as fail secure or fail safe and consist of a gear and latch system that can be manipulated with lock cylinders and/or electricity. The fail safe versions of these locks have the bolt extended with electric currents. If there is a power outage the door will stay unlocked. The fail secure version of these locks use electricity to retract the bolt where it will stay locked until power is restored.

     

    Electromagnetic Locks

    These common magnetic locks cannot be fail secure, meaning if there is a blackout they will unlock. They were actually originally manufactured for this purpose, to unlock in the event of power loss or when a fire alarm is pulled. When power is restored, the current will allow the door to magnetically bind itself to the metallic door frame with varying strength depending on how the magnetic coil is wound, and how much electricity is being deployed.

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  • Pros And Cons Of Rekeying And Replacing Locks

    Posted on August 23rd, 2017 | 0 Comments

    Many homeowners, when posed with the choice, don’t understand the difference between rekeying a lock and fully replacing it. Surprisingly, it’s more common for people to choose to totally change their locks rather than rekey them. Sometimes, however, rekeying is a better option. In this guide, prepared from the expert experience of the technicians at Chicago Locksmith, we’ll detail both the pros and cons of rekeying locks and replacing them.

     

    Rekeying Locks Pros

    Increased Security

    When rekeying your locks you will reassert your key control, by rendering all other keys void. This process is commonly carried out by homeowners when they move into their house in order to prevent previous homeowners or anybody else from being able to walk on in, sealing up gaps in security.

     

    Cost

    Rekeying simply consists of the keypins in the lock cylinder being swapped out. Key pins are much less expensive than brand new locksets, making rekeying a fantastically cost effective option for homeowners.

     

    Quick Process

    Professional locksmiths can quickly rekey locks quite easily with just a catch tool, a spanner, a key decoder, and the current key. This should be a cut and dry easy operation for any professional locksmith.

     

    Cons of Rekeying Locks

    Not too many security upgrade choices

    Rekeying locks give you only a slight boost in your security - as you’re simply limiting the potential of other people with keys being able to access it, as opposed to increasing the inherent security features and durability of the lock itself. If you have a less-than-perfect lock installed, and rekey it, you’ll still be left with a not so good lock. This isn’t nearly as strong of a security upgrade compared to upgrading the lock completely to a stronger lock.

     

     

    Pros of Lock Replacement

    Customizable Options

    When you install a new lock you can customize your security, choosing the feeling and appearance of the locks, as well as choose additional features like extra long screws and additional security pins. By replacing your lock, you have a whole new set of security tools to protect your property with.

     

    Upgradability

    You can upgrade your locks, and thus, the general security of your property. If you have a Grade 2 deadbolt on your door, you couldn’t upgrade it to a Grade 1 deadbolt simply by rekeying - but you easily can through a lock replacement, choosing a stronger and more durable lock, exponentially increasing the security of your property by scores. Replacing your lock gives you endless flexibility for security upgrades.

     

    Cons of Lock Replacement

    Labor/Cost

     

    Lock replacement is a more expensive and technically complex operation than simply rekeying your locks. You will have to pay for the extra labor in addition to the price of the brand new lockset, which is usually, even on its own, more expensive than the entire cost of the keypins required for a rekeying operation. However, for home or business owners with a budget, there’s simply no replacing the security benefits that come with a lock replacement.

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  • Why Locksmiths Are Superior Than Dealerships For Car Key Replacement

    Posted on July 18th, 2017 | 0 Comments

    We don’t need to explain how car keys are an essential item for any vehicle owner. If you lose or misplace your car keys, you simply won’t be able to enjoy the use of your car! The majority of vehicle owners don’t have spare keys, which can make a situation where keys can’t be found immensely stressful. If this situation occurs to you, you’ll need to get replacement car keys - and you’ll also need to get replacement keys if your existing keys are broken or stolen. You have two options for replacement of automotive keys; you can go to a car dealership, or you can go to a licensed locksmith like Chicago Locksmiths. Make sure to consider these factors before you make your choice.

     

    Cost

    Automobile dealerships are tons more expensive for car key replacement compared to the hiring of an automotive locksmith The cost of replacing keys from a dealer runs up to two or three times more than the price of a locksmith. If you want to save money when replacing your car keys, make sure to go to a locksmith over an automotive dealer. Just think that the money you’re saving can be used for other vehicle expenses, like gas or potential repairs.

     

    Time

    Automotive locksmiths will save you time based on going to a dealership. Locksmiths can provide you a new set of keys instantly or within hours. A dealership might take up to one or two weeks to get you a new pair of keys, as they need to order them from the manufacturer rather than making them on site.

     

    Ease

    It’s way more convenient to hire a locksmith. When you go to an automobile dealership, you will need to bring your driving permit, automobile identification number, license, car registration, and potentially more documents. Car dealers usually won’t make you new keys unless you have all these documents. However, automotive locksmiths don’t have the same requirements, making it a much faster and more easy service.

     

    On the spot emergency service

    You never plan to misplace, break, or lose your car keys. And when you do, you want the situation remedied as soon as humanly possible. That’s why you shouldn’t waste your time trying to find, contact, and travel, car in tow, to the nearest automobile dealership. If you call a licensed locksmith, they will come directly to your location - and we at Chicago Locksmiths are available 24/7, 365 for you.

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  • Summer Tips From Chicago Locksmith

    Posted on June 23rd, 2017 | 0 Comments

    Now that Summer is truly over us in all of it’s glory, it can be really easy to forget to adhere to your usual schedules or home security protocols. Follow this brief guide from Chicago Locksmiths to ensure that your home stays protected during these balmy and warm months.

     

    Never forget to lock doors and windows

    Summer tourism and travel usually brings many more visitors to Chicago, even it’s surrounding suburbs. The most basic and important line of defense against burglary and theft is to ensure that your doors and windows are locked, including your vehicle doors. Thieves often target unlocked cars, hoping that they can find a spare key inside it. If you’re concerned about your lock security, give Chicago Locksmiths a call, and we can send out an expert technician to give you a home security assessment in full, on the spot.

     

    Traffic

    The more time you’re away from home, the more time it’s standing unattended and unwatched. And security aside, nobody ever wants to be stuck in traffic, especially during the traffic surges of Summer. In order to avoid getting stuck in Summer Traffic, Chicago Locksmith recommends leaving earlier to work to beat the heavy traffic, and leaving work early, or staying a bit later in order to avoid the rush hour smash.

     

    Lanyard Key Holders

    Since millions of tourists will visit Chicago this Summer, if you somehow drop your keys while you’re traveling somewhere, your chances of getting them back are virtually zero. Our experts suggest keeping your keys attached to a lanyard that you can wear around your neck, or on a clip that you can clip to your belt loops or inside a bag in order to minimize the chances of key loss. If you do happen to lose your keys, Chicago Locksmiths has expert locksmiths on call to come directly to your location to help you out with on the spot, emergency unlocking service.

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  • Cost Of Lock Changes

    Posted on July 23rd, 2017 | 0 Comments

    Cost of lock changesIf you’ve owned your home for over a decade, you have probably changed your locks by now - and if you haven’t, you really should! Locks can accumulate damage and degradation over the years, and it’s essential to have them changed in order to maintain their integrity as defining aspects of your home security. In terms of figuring out the price of lock change, there’s a few factors that need to be analyzed; in this blog post, the experts at Chicago Locksmiths will help you understand these key points.

     

    Lock Change Method

    You can try to attempt a DIY lock installation, which is only really a good approach for homeowners with a good level of skill around hardware and installation tools. If you’re taking this approach, you need to make sure that you have the correct tools. The cost of this installation of course will also be determined by what type of lock you choose to buy - as a Grade 3 lock is cheaper, and weaker, than a Grade 1 lock. It’s essential to sort through the various options that fit your practical needs, security requirements, and material budget in order to determine whether it’s worth it, or even possible at all, to complete a DIY installation.

     

    The best approach would to be to have your lock professionally installed, which might end up being even cheaper than a DIY installation as you can be certain the lock will be correctly installed the first time, resulting in zero need for additional tools. Secondly, a professional locksmith can install a lock much faster than an amateur - and time is money, according to the old saying. The average cost of a professional lock change starts around $35, a fair price for a service that will provide your household with irreplaceable and invaluable security.

     

    Security Level

    High security locks are more expensive than low security locks as a matter of general fact. You are going to want to choose what lock you want for your home based on how much importance you place on security. If you want to simply go to the hardware store and buy the first lock you spot, your lock installation won’t be too expensive. But if you want to buy a lock that will truly ensure the full security of your home, it will cost a little bit more.

     

    Exterior VS. Interior Locks

    Interior locks shouldn’t be used on exterior doors, and vice versa. Since they have different security uses, these locks have different prices and different set-ups. Exterior door locks are the first defense parameter for many homes, so they are often built to be more sturdy and strong than interior locks. The price point variance between these two types of locks reflect their differences - and often exterior locks are more expensive than interior ones. Additionally, the level of lock strength as mentioned before makes a major difference in the prices.

     

    Upgradability

    You can upgrade existing locks in many different ways that vary from upgrading a normal lock to a high security counterpart, making an existing lock an electronic smart lock, or a simple upgrade from a Grade 3 to Grade 1 deadbolt. These upgrades vary in price. If you were, for example, looking to switch to a Medeco brand high security deadbolt, the price would range between $140 and $240 dollars. If you were trying to upgrade to a smart lock by the popular brand August, the price of an upgrade would likely start at over $200 dollars. If you choose to upgrade your locks when you change them, the price variances will be greater than if you were simply reinstalling another version of the same lock you already have - but the increase in price will also result in a major increase in security.

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  • Lock Types You Need To Know

    Posted on May 23rd, 2017 | 0 Comments

    Lock Types you need to knowThe first locks were made out of ropes, and looked totally different from today’s lock technology. They first originated in the Mesopotamian kingdom of Assyria, and converse to this advancement, the Egyptians invented the first mechanical lock, a pin tumbler made of wood. Between then and now, there’s been a massive variety of locks invented, with many different particular structures and functionality. Here’s a brief guide to them, as prepared by the lock history experts at Chicago Locksmiths.

     

    Padlocks

    Combination Padlocks

    These locks require a sequence of numbers to be turned in either one or multiple dials. Usually, single dial locks that revolve are more secure than toggling multi dial locks that are often used in briefcases. This type of lock are sort of easy to crack in any case, since they have been around since the mid 19th century.

     

    Key Padlocks

    These padlocks require a key to be opened, and while some of them can be rekeyed, many of them can not. If you lose the key, the shackle will need to be cut or picked.

     

    TSA Approved Locks

    When you’re flying inside the USA, the TSA has approved a series of padlocks that can secure your luggage, but are supposed to only be accessible through a key that TSA agents carry. However, these are really not as secure as they might want you to think.

     

    Deadbolts

    These locks are somewhat more secure than the usual standard spring lock, and can’t be opened unless a key is utilized to turn the lock cylinder. They are often used in homes and outside doors in combination with a slightly weaker lock for security.

     

    Single Cylinder Deadbolts

    These locks use a key on the outside and a thumbturn on the inside. They can have additional flip guards installed surrounding the thumbturn to prevent it from rotating when the guard is in place.

     

    Double Cylinder Deadbolts

    These are the more secure type of deadbolt. They require keys on the inside and outside of the locks, but can be a safety hazard in the event of an emergency that requires the quick exit of your home

     

    Lockable Thumbturn Deadbolts

    These deadbolts are recommended for locations that need maximum levels of security. They allow doors to be opened from both the inside and the outside. These can be considered somewhat of a hybrid between single and double cylinder locks.

     

    Jimmy Proof Deadbolts

    These deadbolts are usually found on double doors or in apartments. They have a strong, simple surface mount that’s easy to install, and the deadbolt in these interacts with the jamb bracket, making them extra impervious to excess force - especially compared to the normal deadbolt.

     

    Handle Locks

    Knob Locks

    These locks are often combined in residential exterior doors with deadbolt locks. They are simple and not that secure since the cylinder is housed inside the knob rather than the door. These knobs can be easily taken off doors with hammers or even just a strong enough grip, making them only really a good choice for residential interior locks.

     

    Lever Handle Locks

    These locks are most commonly found in commercial locations, and on interior doors. Their lever can be rotated on a single side against a key cylinder, and are mor/e insecure than knob locks.

     

    T-Handle Locks

    These are the type of locks that you most often see on ATMs or vending machines. When these locks are opened, it is physically removed from the device itself, making them incredibly replaceable and substitutable. These locks work with either dead latches or spring latches. Spring latches relock automatically as soon as the T handle is snapped back in place.  

     

    Other types of Cylinder Locks

    These include mortise cylinders and rim cylinders - both slightly more secure than deadbolts, and both utilizing hybrid security technology. Mortise cylinders are side threaded and screw directly into mortise hardware that’s located inside the door. Rim cylinders, however, have extended tailpieces that stick from their backside through the door into the lock on the other side.

     

    Interchangeable Core Cylinders

    These locks are often used in business, school, or institutional settings as they are easy to replace without any complicated disassembly. These locks work with one of two kinds of keys. Standard operator keys are used to lock or unlock the lock, and control keys take the entire core of the cylinder out of the lock - allowing you to replace it by simply inserting a new core into the hardware. These locks are available in both small and large format interchangeable cores.

     

    Rim Latch Locks

    These locks are like rim cylinders, but contains latch on one side of the door with a latch lock on the other side. They can automatically lock when the door shuts - and are commonly utilized for this feature in apartment complexes. However, they are not meant to resist heavy force - so should always be combined with another stronger type of lock.

     

    Cam Locks

    These low security locks are often found in filing cabinets or mailboxes. They are made of a base and a cam - the key is inserted in the base, and the cam acts as a latch tail.

     

    Electronic Locks

    Digital locks are used in cars and hotels, but now they are widely used in many security contexts. They range from taking everything from a swipe card to a code input. They are easy to rekey through simple programming, yet are somewhat vulnerable to hacking. Smart locks can be remotely controlled through dedicated smartphone applications wherever you might be located, making them a widely popular option for both residential and commercial settings.

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