What Should You Do When You Lose Your House keys?

One of the most misplaced everyday items is our house keys. Even though we carry our keys with us virtually everywhere, because of their small size it’s very easy for them to slip from a pocket.

Have you found yourself locked out of your house just because you misplaced your keys? If so, there’s no need to panic, because there are steps you can take to remedy this situation quickly. You will have to sacrifice some time (as well as money), but you can resolve this situation.

Depending on your situation, it may be necessary to either change your locks completely or at least re-key them. Things become more complicated if you lose your master key. The good news is that if you do not believe the security of your house is threatened by the manner in which you lost your keys, you can simply get new keys, which is a much cheaper and less complicated solution.

Let’s dive into this in greater detail:

Changing Your Locks

Since each key is paired with each door lock, if you lose your keys you may need to consider changing out your locks.

This is because losing your keys means that there is now a small change that they may find their way into the hands of potential burglars, who could trace the keys back to your home (such as if you lose your I.D. in addition to your keys). Even though there are no laws stating that you have to change your locks if you lose your keys, failing to do so could create too big of a security risk.

Needless to say, losing your keys is going to be a very frustrating experience no matter what, and especially if you don’t have any spares lying around. If you do lose your house keys and need to change your locks, here’s a step-by-step process of what to do:

  1. Unlock your door from the inside
  2. If the door has a handle lock and deadbolt, move them both to the unlocked position
  3. Remove the doorknob and, if necessary, the doorjamb plate that will hold the locking mechanism in place
  4. Take the doorknob and deadbolt to a locksmith, and request that they re-key the lock
  5. The lost keys will now become useless as a result of the locks being re-keyed
  6. Make a minimum of three copies of the new key, and give one key to a friend or relative you trust; this way, if you lose your other two keys, you still have backup options

There is a common misconception that changing locks means you have to replace the entire lockset; in reality, you have to rekey the existing locks, meaning that the old locks will be modified to accept a new key.  All other keys that could be used in the lock would then be negated.

Also, take note that rekeying your locks is probably only necessary if you feel that the security of your home is now at risk. If your keys were stolen or if you misplaced them in an urban area where you believe there is a chance that burglars could trace them back to your house, then, by all means, you should have your locks rekeyed.

If, on the other hand, you simply misplaced your keys around the house or at work or a friend or relative’s home, then rekeying your existing locks is probably not necessary yet.

Take note that the cost to rekey a lock is significantly less than changing the locks overall, so it’s a better option if you are on a budget.

Losing A Master Key

Regardless of the circumstances for losing your keys, if one of the keys lost was a master key, you should absolutely rekey your locks. This is because master keys are used to open up several locks, meaning a group of locks will have been keyed in a manner that permits one single master key to open up all of them (even though each lock also retains its unique individual key).

If you lose the master key to your home, this can be a major threat to your home security, because if anybody gains access to the master key, then they effectively have access to your entire house (or at least through any door that accepts the master key).


If you have home insurance, you can give the company a call and ask if your policy will cover locksmith expenses if you are locked outside. If so, then the company should cover all costs or rekeying your locks or changing out your locks completely. The company should also hire specialists to complete the process.

If your home insurance policy does not cover the cost of replacing the locks or keys, switching to a policy that does is at least worth consideration.

Getting Replacement Keys

Some good news here is that replacing a door key is not a very complicated or expensive process (although it will cost a little bit more if you use anti-theft locks). The real hassle is having your existing locks either replaced or re-keyed.


If you’ve taken away anything from this article, it’s that there are no clear answers about what you should do after losing your house keys.

It all really comes down to your circumstances. If the security of your home is directly threatened after you losing your house keys, then changing or re-keying the locks and seeking replacement keys will be necessary.

Otherwise, if you simply misplaced your keys in a manner that you do not believe your home’s security is threatened, then only seeking new keys and not changing out the existing locks would probably be the preferable option.

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