Key Cutting: Why it should be done by a Certified Locksmith

Getting copies made of keys is something we all have to do at some point. Many hardware or home improvement stores offer key cutting services. Why should you choose your local certified locksmith over these alternatives?

Here’s why you should have a certified locksmith do all your key cutting.

They can duplicate any key

Having your keys cut by a certified locksmith means you will always have a key that works. Whether you need a new house key, car key or specialty key, a locksmith will have the correct key blank. Many hardware stores with key cutting services don’t have more specialized key blanks. Unless you are duplicating a standard house key, chances are good that they won’t be able to help.

Not only do certified locksmiths have a wide array of key blanks, but they are trained in key cutting. Their machines are calibrated more often, meaning you get a more accurate copy. This is especially important for car keys. Newer car locks and ignitions are more sensitive and require a closer-fitting key. Locksmiths can also program a new transponder to your car, eliminating the need for buying duplicate keys from the dealer.

If you don’t have the key you need duplicated, a certified locksmith can also cut a new key for an existing lock.

They specialize in locks

What’s in a name? For a locksmith – plenty. A certified locksmith in Chicago understands locks and will ensure that your new key is perfect. One thing a locksmith generally does is ensure that there are no sharp edges or imperfections. By smoothing off the newly cut metal, a certified locksmith guarantees that it won’t scratch or damage the inside of your lock.

A lock that is scratched or damaged may work improperly or cause a moving part to shift when it shouldn’t. That could result in your new key working in the morning but not when you get home from work. It could also result in your new key getting stuck.

They stand behind their product

It’s already been stated that certified locksmiths are trained in key cutting. Not only does this mean that they do high-quality work, but also that they can do it quickly and efficiently. Getting your keys cut by someone who doesn’t specialize in it means a greater chance of error.

If a key from a hardware store doesn’t work, you have to go through a refund process and possibly have someone else try to cut a working key. The majority of certified locksmiths will re-cut a key on the spot if it doesn’t work in your lock.

Whether you need a spare for a friend or in case you lose your original, key cutting is best left to a certified locksmith. If you need a new key cut, call Omega Locksmith and be assured of a high-quality new key that really works.

How Much Does It Cost to Install a Smart Door Lock?

Last week we talked about some of the advantages of installing a smart door lock. Today, we’d like to address the question of how much a smart door lock might cost.

As with most thing in life, the answer mostly depends on a number of different factors.

The quality of the smart lock you are installing.

Smart locks range in price from $19.99 to $999. You can choose between several different features. For example, some smart locks include deadbolts so you can use a key if the battery goes out. Some are meant to be paired with home automation services, which can get even pricier.

We recommend choosing the highest quality lock that fits your goals and your lifestyle.

How you get the lock installed.

There are basically three ways to go about this.

The first way is to have a security company install the smart locks for you. Many security companies do offer the service. This is generally the way to go if you want all the extra features, like the ability to lock and unlock your door from your smart phone. It’s not cheap, however. The lock prices are often inflated, and you’ll be locking yourself (no pun intended) into a 2 year service contract, at a minimum.

The second option is to do it yourself. Anyone can purchase smart locks from their local hardware store. If you have the skills this is certainly the cheapest way to get the job done. If you don’t have the skills, then you could end up damaging your door or your lock, creating a lock which does not function well or leaving a loophole in your home security that a criminal could access.

The third option is to have a professional locksmith take care of the job for you. Labor costs are generally quite low (between $40 and $100 per lock) so the big variable will be the quality of the lock you select. You can either bring your own or ask the locksmith to bring one of the trusted brands he carries. This is a mid-range cost option that can be a lot better and cheaper in the long run simply because it allows you to trust that the job has been done correctly without forcing you to break the bank.

So what’s the best option for you?

Ultimately, every homeowner has to decide which lock options will ultimately work the best for their needs. If you decide Omega Locksmith is the right installer for your smart lock, just give us a call. We’ll get you set up with a free quote so you know exactly what to expect.

Make Your Home More Secure With Keyless Locks

With all of the key copying apps out there, it may be time for homeowners to start thinking about installing keyless locks.

These locks provide several significant advantages. They are not very expensive, and most of them are “bump-proof,” meaning it’s much harder for burglars to attack them.

Keyless locks also prevent you from having to give out your keys ever again. If you need a baby sitter or a handyman to have access you can create a code. Later, you can wipe that code, preventing them from getting back in if they’re no longer needed.

These entry systems aren’t just great for homeowners, either. They solve a lot of problems for business owners, too! It is far less expensive to remove a former employee’s code than it is to rekey locks every time a key isn’t returned.

If you want to get really fancy then you can hook your keyless entry system up to a home automation service. This will allow you to open and close doors from a distance.

If you have a latch key kid then keyless entry gets even smarter. You won’t have to worry about hiding keys on the property (which is a terrible idea), and you don’t have to hope that your kids won’t lose keys. They memorize the code–there’s no losing that. Even if they forget the code they can phone you or text you for a reminder. If you’ve got home automation you can just open the door for them.

Most keyless entry systems also come with auto-locking features, which means they’ll take care of locking the door for you if you forget. You’ll never again have to worry that a moment of distraction will cause a hole in your home security.

Finally, keyless entry systems are just super-convenient. You don’t have to fumble with keys or make copies before you go on vacation.

However, we do recommend entry systems with deadbolt locks. Most are battery powered, and you will need the back-up if a battery goes out.

Do we install electronic locks? Absolutely! So don’t worry–you won’t have to go it alone if you’re not exactly the DIY type. Call Omega Locksmith today for a quote. We’re ready to help you upgrade the locks on your home!

What If Your Key Ring Acted Like a Swiss Army Knife?

Let’s face it–most people pick up a lot of keys during their adult life. The result? A big, bulky, noisy, and frustrating key ring.

Fortunately, someone has come up with a great solution. This little Key Smart 2.0 organizes your keys and turns them into a neat, clean, “Swiss Army Knife” style package that’s a lot easier to deal with.

This is a great idea for two major reasons.

It will allow you to save your ignition switch.

Unless you’re in a newer car with an “on” switch, your keys are probably still dangling from the ignition every time you drive.

The bigger your key ring, the more problematic this can become. Over time, the weight puts a strain on your ignition. It will eventually fail, which means your car won’t start.

With the Key Smart the weight isn’t going to hang straight down, which means your ignition will last a lot longer.

Keys won’t get lost as often.

Traditional key rings often include those cheap aluminum rings that tend to get warped over time. Sooner or later they’re going to twist open and send keys off to Never-Never land. This means you’ve got to call a locksmith so you can get back into your house or car.

With something like the Key Smart you’re much less likely to lose any of your most important keys. They’ll be tucked neatly away until you’re ready to use them.

They’re cheap, and they make good gifts.

You can get a Key Smart for less than $20. We’re smack dab in the middle of the holiday season right now, and while the team at Omega locksmith doesn’t recommend products too often, we do see the merit in this one. As far as gift giving goes, the device solves a problem that almost everyone has, making it a great gift for that hard-to-buy-for person on your list.

 

Would You Put Your Keys in the Cloud?

Today, we ran across a news article talking about a key copying kiosk which will allow users not only to make new key copies, but to store copies of those keys “in the cloud” as well. The idea is customers can come back at any time to access their accounts, pull up their saved keys and get new copies on the spot.

These little boxes are on their way to Chicago right now, so of course we had a few thoughts about them.

These boxes will make residential rekeying more important than ever.

Those key copy boxes have definitely made an effort to provide good security–no argument there. You have to provide a fingerprint to get access to your stored copies, for example. Well and good–it will help prevent hackers from getting keys to every door in Chicago.

It does not, however, mean that you’ll never need the services of a locksmith ever again. Consider the following scenario.

You purchase a house or a condo. The former owner turns over all of the existing key copies…except for the ones that are stored in the cloud. He or she then goes back to the kiosk, which has no way of knowing this person no longer has a right to access the key stored in the cloud. They copy the key and come back whenever they want to steal, snoop, or worse.

Or how about a babysitter or a house sitter? This is almost as dangerous as the key copying app, only now the criminal gets instant access.

Bottom line? You move into it? You’d better rekey it. Fire an employee? Better rekey it. Hand your key out to someone you do not absolutely trust? Better call a locksmith and rekey it.

Buying a used car? Rekey that, too.

These boxes are supposedly capable of copying smart keys and transponder keys too. This means someone could sell you a car on Monday and take it back on Tuesday, unless, of course, you call and get your car completely rekeyed.

Having your keys in the cloud does not mean never needing a locksmith ever again.

Being able to get a replacement key in an instant is very helpful–but only if you’re near one of the boxes. If you’re out in the suburbs or too far away to be brought to one then your safest and most convenient bet is probably going to be a mobile locksmith.

Bottom line: use these kiosks if you like, but watch your security and keep our number handy anyway.

Avoiding Holiday Break-Ins

People use locks to guard their safety and security. And there’s no time they need it more than during the holidays, which are notorious for break-ins and burglaries.

That’s why the team here at Omega Locksmith wanted to take a few moments to talk about some things you can do to keep your home safer.

Get screw-type window locks.

They’re super hard to open from the outside, and your homeowner’s insurance plan will typically give you a discount if you have them.

Get a monitored home alarm system.

There’s nothing like having a system which calls the police for you when you have an intruder. Deadbolts are your first line of defense, but burglar alarms are your second.

Control access to information.

“Loose lips sink ships” applies to home security just as easily as it applies to wars. Make sure you’re careful not to broadcast times when you’re not at home or don’t plan to be at home. Watch those social media posts, too. That innocent “check in” from the mall cafe tells everyone you’re not home as surely as announcing your vacation plans does.

Don’t leave branded boxes at the curb.

Take that big screen TV box out at the last minute on garbage day, or take them yourself. Otherwise, you’re running advertisements for burglars who might be interested in stealing your holiday presents. Why leave enticements for The Grinch?

Control access to keys.

Believe it or not, most burglaries are “inside jobs.” This means it’s often someone who you know–someone who may even have access to one of your keys. And with key copying apps making it easier than ever to get a copy of your keys fast, you absolutely must be careful who you allow to gain access to your keys.

Don’t let anyone have a key unless they absolutely need one. And if you think people already have keys who really should not, consider calling us to order a residential re-key. Better to be safe than sorry. Call Omega Locksmith to schedule your re-key today.

Beware the Key Copying App

Now, the phrase, “there’s an app for that” extends to making key copies. And unfortunately, this app can actually be pretty dangerous.

The app allows you to scan your key with a smart phone. You get a new key in the mail a few days later.

Nifty, right? Only you don’t actually have to prove the key belongs to you to get it. So anyone who can get their hands on your keys for even a few minutes can have a copy of their very own. The app can’t verify that the scanner of the key is the owner of the key and sends the key out to whatever address is entered into the system.

Let’s talk about how to protect yourself.

Control access to your keys.

Make sure you only give your keys to people you’d want to allow into your house. If you’ve ever left your keys with anyone else, even for a moment (most commonly with car mechanics or with valets) then call a locksmith for a full home rekey and be more vigilant in the future. If you have old fashioned car keys you might need an automotive rekey, too.

In the future, if you have to hand over your car key to someone then take it off the ring. Don’t hand that person the entire clump of keys–the one that contains your house key, your storage room key, your mail room key, your mother’s keys, and so forth. That mechanic doesn’t need any key other than the car key, so that’s the key you give them. Sure, it’s an inconvenience to take the key off the ring and put it back on, but having your belongings stolen is an even bigger inconvenience.

Consider upgrading your lock.

Certain high end keys won’t work with this app. You can consider getting one of those locks. You might even consider a keyless home entry system which allows you to enter a security code instead.

And while transponder keys definitely offer their share of problems they certainly won’t work with this app either. Consider upgrading to a car that uses them the next time you change vehicles.

Don’t use the app.

There are safer ways to make key copies. Can you imagine what will happen if a hacker manages to crack these apps? That hacker will have scanned key copies linked to physical addresses. Crooks will have a field day.

Remember, keys are safety and security devices. They should be treated as such, no matter how technology evolves.

If you live in Chicago or the surrounding areas and need a home rekey to stay safe, call us. We’re ready to help.

A Locksmith’s Vacation Prep Wisdom

I have a friend who lives out of state. She recently went on vacation–and when she did, she made a really huge mistake.

She hired a house sitter, then went to one of those grocery store kiosk things to get a key copy. She gave the key copy to her house sitter and went on vacation some 700 miles away.

A day later, the house sitter calls to let her know the key doesn’t work.

That’s right. She’s 700 miles away. She has two cats who need food, water, and other attentions. And the key copy she had created was not going to work.

She was going to have to get creative to come up with a solution. Ultimately, she ended up getting a professional key copy made and overnighting that key to the sitter, who was then able to get in. This was a huge hassle that cut into her vacation.

These machines are everywhere, so you might be forgiven for thinking that it’s really easy to cut a house key. However, this story shows that they don’t always cut these keys accurately enough to get the job done.

If it’s important enough for you to  make a key copy then in general it’s going to be important enough for you to get it done professionally. Locksmiths do have the equipment to generate extra keys for your home, and of course we test all of the keys before we charge you for them.

Hey, we get you want to save money, but some keys are honestly a little more intricate than others. Sometimes you’ll get lucky, and sometimes you won’t.

Either way, my advice? Test all of your key copies before you go out of town. You don’t want to ruin your Christmas or Thanksgiving vacation because your house sitter or pet sitter can’t get in to do what he or she needs to do. If you’ve made a bad key copy you’ll know before you go, and you’ll have time to fix it.

Just a little reminder to everyone out here in Chicago who might soon be leaving for the holidays over the course of the next couple of months!