Here are ten simple steps to managing keys that will help to reduce frustration and anxiety.
Step 1: Change or re-key locks. This is the first thing any new home owner should do upon closing escrow. Change or re-key locks before moving anything of value into the home. If you’re handy with a screwdriver, you may want to change the entire lock and doorknob set on each door yourself, both for security and to upgrade the hardware for durability and appearance.
Step 2: Buy a key box for storing spare keys. There are many types of key boxes on the market, from lockable boxes that can be hung on a wall to soft cover books that fit in a drawer. My preference is the $1.98 clear plastic fishing tackle box that has moveable dividers. I can make the individual storage spaces small (for padlock keys) or large (for spare garage door openers).
Step 3: Set aside master keys. Mark original keys that come with the lock set or keys in the best condition as master keys and don’t use them. Keep them as masters for copying keys in the future. All keys wear out eventually, better to wear out a copy and keep the master in pristine condition to ensure good copies in the future.
Step 4: Keep like keys on a ring and label it. Rather than labeling each key in your box, keep multiple copies of spare keys for the same lock on one key ring and label that ring.
Step 5: Write down key codes. Keys that come packaged with a new door lock set are cut to a code, usually five digits, which are stamped on each key. That code defines the actual shape of the cuts on the key and can be used to make a new key if you ever lose the original and all your copies. Write down those key code numbers and keep them in a safe place. If you have keys with no code stamped on them, locksmiths have a tool that can read the shape and determine the code numbers for you.
Step 6: Set out lock boxes in your yard. Hiding a spare key in a fake garden rock is one way to make sure you’re never locked out, but I prefer a lock box that can be secured to a pipe or other immovable object in a hidden place. Lock boxes that have changeable combinations cost about $30.
Step 7: Don’t carry every key on one ring. While some people prefer to carry keys to every lock in their lives on one key ring so that it looks like a little metal porcupine, I’m a relative minimalist. Although I divide my time between two homes and may drive two different cars, I carry only four keys on my ring: one for each front door, one for my primary car, one for my post office box. If I’m home and want to drive the other car, that key is on another ring that also has keys to both front doors. If I’m going to work, my office keys are on another ring (why carry office keys around on weekends?).
Step 8: Keep keys in the same place. The important thing, especially for someone like me who uses multiple rings of keys, is to keep them in the same place where I can always find them. Find a convenient place that works for you.
Step 9: Keep spare sets of your daily use rings. OK, you put your keys down somewhere – not in the usual place – and you can’t find them. Your son-in-law just called and he and your daughter are on their way to the hospital to deliver your first grandchild. No time to search, you’ve got to leave NOW! No worries, having a spare set of your daily use keys in your key box gets you out the door fast. You can look for the primary set later as you fret over how to set up a college fund for that new little bundle of joy.
Step 10: Change locks regularly. If you have a housekeeper, gardener, carpet cleaner, painter, temporary house guest, or anyone else who has access to your driveway gate or front door key, you may want to have those locks re-keyed on a regular basis.
I hope you found this information helpful. If you have questions, drop me a line! email@example.com
John A. Souerbry & Associates (DRE 01370983) www.jsrealproperty.com