Category Archives: residential

Blog posts related to residential, houses or homes. This includes hardware, services, access control and product reviews.

Common Construction Mistakes with Locks and Users

Regularly we get called out to new construction projects or remodels towards the end of construction as the user is taking over their new space. This is a time of transition where the small things on a job are often overlooked and become noticed. One of these is the lock hardware and user needs of keys.

This blog post covers common mistakes that are overlooked by both contractors and users when remolding or adding buildings. We recommend working with us in advance to save you money by doing it right the first time. Here are some mistakes, examples and ways to avoid them.

Common Mistakes

  • Incompatible key ways
  • Incompatible hardware
  • Ignoring user function and access
  • purchasing pre packed master key systems

Incompatible Key Ways

Incompatible key ways are the most common mistake we see. For example, an existing building uses Russwin cylinders and the keys and the contractor installs Sargent cylinders. In order to get the building back to one keyway the customer has to purchase Russwin cylinders . The client ends up purchasing locks twice.

Ways to avoid it

Have the contractor or locksmith spec the new cylinders to match the existing cylinder type and manufacture.

Incompatible Hardware

Another common mistake we see is installing different manufactures hardware. This can cause incompatible keyways, additional hardware to have on hand for maintenance and additional keys.

For example, there was an apartment complex that used Best Interchangeable Cores (IC) for their residents. Then they added a club house where the contractor installed Schlage hardware, so not only was the keyway incompatible but the Schlage hardware would not accept a Best IC. In order to get the user back to one key system the hardware had to be replaced to accept Best IC.

Ways to avoid it

Have the contractor or locksmith spec the hardware to match the existing hardware type and manufacture and/or at least be compatible with the existing system.

Ignoring user function or access

A smaller issue we see is that when new locks are installed the most common function – entry (53) for an office or front door is used. But storage doors that should always be locked and only opened with a key, then need to be replaced.

Ways to avoid it

Discuss the function and use type for each door. The five most common functions are entry (53), storage (80), classroom (70), passage (10) and privacy (40).

Purchasing Pre Packed Master Key Systems

This issue is mostly found among multiple building complexes. The contractor normally orders a master key key system from the factory with the hardware, per building as each building gets built. But the problem you can have for example, is at a six building apartment complex the end user has six master keys (s)he has to carry that  are not compatible. When if done correctly the user should have one master key because they are managing the whole complex.

Ways to avoid it

Consult with locksmith and user groups to customize master key system to their specific needs.

These are some of the common mistakes that we find when we are called in to setup a masterkey system for the final users as they take posession and they are not happy to have to pay for items twice. The simple solution is to consult with us, your locksmith, at the beginning, during and for the final transition of occupying the space.

Ideally, we can order the right hardware and cylinders to match your existing system. Then only pin the cylinders to the master key or user needs – once. Doing the full job right the first time.

Let us know if we can save you money doing it correct the first time by calling 541.632.3968.

Access Control Options & Checklist

We regularly receive residential and commercial requests about access control options for doors. There are many options to choose from and we can make what you want happen. The locks range from $150 – $2,000+ per unit depending on the features you want.

Here is a short buying guide to help you choose the best lock for your needs and some basic recommendations we commonly make.

Features Checklist


Answer / Yes or No

# of User Codes Need
Lock Type
Mechanical Only
Access Options
Buttons / Pad
Swipe Card
Proximity Cards
FOBs / Remotes
Locking Options
Lever / Knob
Exit Device
Mortise Cylinder
Mag Lock
Blue tooth
hard wired
Advanced audit trails
Integrated systems



For residential homes we recommend Schlages Keypads, Touch Screens or Connected Devices. 


For commercial applications we recommend Kaba Ilco’s Simplex Series or Eplex Series.

We can supply any of the locks and install them. Call us at 541.632.3968 if you have any questions or would like to discuss options.

Is your door stuck shut even though the lock turns?

Is your door locked from the inside and outside, even when you have a key and it turns? If so, we see this every month. Typically your latch is broken.

A latch is the spring loaded piece on the edge of your door that connects between the door and door frame. After 6-12 years they break from us. We most commonly see Kwikset latches malfunction like this.

What we have to do is come out dissemble your door know and manually retract the latch. Then replace it with a new one.

Here are some pictures of the latch damaged and out.

damaged latch

broken latch removedIf you need us to come out, open your door and remove you latch call us at 541.632.3968


Do Not Duplicate Keys Policy

We frequently receive requests to both copy “do not duplicate” key and/or to provide them for clients. This can be a controversial item so here is a short post on how we address it.

“Do Not Duplicate” or any similar wording, stamped on a key is a false sense of security. There are no laws stopping anyone from not copying it. Although, it does provide some psychological resistant as many hardware stores and some locksmith will not copy a Do Not Duplicate Key.

do not duplicate keys

Our policy is to explain this to the customers asking, and let them decide.

We do copy “Do Not Duplicate” stamped Keys. If you would like true key control, that is where no one can get a copy of it made, that exists and can be provided for your security.

Here is our full policy:

Do Not Duplicate Keys: Orders for keys stamped “Do Not Duplicate” or similar wording will be handled in the same manner as any unrestricted keys .  Team members should inform the consumer that the use of keys stamped “Do Not Duplicate”, or similar wording, is not effective security, and further that the use of such words is deceptive because it provides a false sense of security. Consumers who desire effective security should purchase a patented key control system rather than rely on a “Do Not Duplicate” marking. This does not apply to keys protected by law.

Does Your Insurance Cover Locksmith Work?

We frequently get asked whether we take insurance coverage or not. Since it varies we figured we would write about which insurance we do accept, the situations in which they are applied and a little bit about how the process works.

To cover the highlights, we always strongly prefer to accept payment directly from you and then have you submit for reimbursement with our receipts. If the insurance company contacts us for the work and offers to pay that is also acceptable for us. We cannot bill people who did not authorize the work.

On the quick notes, we do bill State Farm car insurance for lockouts and service calls because they work with and pay non contracted vendors.

On to the more specific situations.

The most common situations we get asked about for insurance coverage are: (a) car lockouts, (b) lost car keys and (c) theft of keys and re-keying both for vehicles and homes.

Car Lockouts and Lost Car Keys

For car lockouts most insurance companies have contracted emergency roadside assistance providers that cover this. Many do cover the service call or up to certain limits for lost keys. Most have client reimbursements for these items.Here is a chart of the major and most common car insurance companies in Oregon and their coverage:

Carrier  Roadside Assistance Unlocks Key Replacement Reimburse Vendor Reimburse Client Contracted Vendor
State Farm Yes Yes service call, not keys Yes Yes Yes
Farmers Yes Yes varies No Yes Yes
Geico Yes Yes varies No Yes Yes
Progressive Yes Yes service call, not keys No Yes Yes
Esurance Yes up to $75 up to $75 No Yes Yes
21st Century Yes Yes up to $150 No Yes Yes
Oregon Mutual Optional Yes service call, not keys No Yes Yes
PEMCO Yes Yes No No Yes Yes
AAA Yes Yes $50 to $100 coverage No Yes Yes
All State Optional $52/yr or $84/service $52/yr or $84/service No No Yes
Liberty Mutual Optional Yes No No No Yes

*note, these are what we have gathered from online, phone and in person research. Our information may not be 100% correct. We strongly recommend talking in depth with each company to very and receive more details about their emergency roadside assistance coverage.

Theft of Keys and Re-keying

Occasionally vehicle or house keys are damaged or stolen. This occurrence is very policy specific. We recommend contacting your agent. But here is what we have seen.

Vehicle keys can be covered if they were damaged for the same reason the vehicle is being repaired.

Vehicle re-keys and home re-keys can be covered under you home insurance policy. Normally the cost of the deductible is higher than the out of pocket cost of going direct, but we have had customers with this coverage.

A Little Bit About the Process

Most of the major insurance companies contract out their roadside assistance to service provides like Road America, AAA or Agero. Some operate there own fleet and/or further contract to smaller local towing and locksmith companies like ourselves.

So if you really push your insurance company to initially cover all the work and then have you pay the difference of what is not covered, we do receive and work for the large service providers that you originally call us about.

Overall if you want to have your insurance cover our services you need to contact and work through them and have them contact us directly. If you have an Oregon based State Farm coverage that is current and you are the authorizing individual we will bill them directly as long as you accept full responsibility for payment if your request is denied. If you do not want to go through the hassle at the moment you can check whether they reimburse you, pay us directly and then send the receipt in for reimbursement.

We hope this sheds some light on the insurance coverage for specific situations and how it works from the locksmith perspective.

Providing Quotes for free?

Recently there has been some confusion about surveys, quotes and taking care of customs needs. I figured it would be appropriate to publicize and lay out our guide lines for providing quotes and surveys. We hope that this will make it clear for both our customers, and ourselves in building better relationships.

The main topic of the post is for clarifying when quotes or surveys are free and when they are not. Here is a short list and I will go in depth lower.

Quotes are free:

  • Over the phone
  • Email or chat
  • with specifications sheets for the job

Quotes are not free:

  • when you want us to come to the site and help you figure out what you need


Over the phone

We quote jobs over the phone everyday. We ask a lot of questions to best understand your situation so we can quote you accurately. Work with us over the phone and it helps us better serve you.

Email or Chat

We have customers email or chat us for quotes weekly. Again we ask a lot of questions to better understand what you need to help. Note, that emails are checked once or twice a day. If you need a quote sooner call 541.632.3968.

Specifications Sheets

In Oregon any job that is over $1,500 is technically required to have a specification sheet laying out the details of the job, hardware etc. Albeit many jobs do not provide a specification sheet therefore we have no problem assisting you over the phone or internet to help you build one.  A specification sheet is helpful because if you are getting multiple quotes it allows everyone to compare apples to apples, not apples to oranges and bid appropriately. It also minimizes our time to help you figure out what you need, which we charge for in the field.  We do accept non numerical quotes from other competing companies covering the items and hardware to quote the same items.

In field Quotes and Surveys

If you want us to come to your site, survey what you have and help you figure out what you need we can do that. But we charge for our time to do that. We not only have out trip time, our labor time and research time but more importantly our opportunity time cost of assisting other customers who want us to take care of them.

Note, we do not bill upfront if we are finalizing a phone or email quote, or are continuing to do the job you have called us for. The service call and labor is included in the jobs we provide.

If you are uncertain of whether a quote is free or if there will be a charge please ask over the phone. If you call and ask us to come over to help you figure out what you need and take care of your needs, we will do just that and charge for it.

We hope this posts helps clarify when and where quotes and surveys are free and when you will be charged.

4 Ways to Identify your Keys and Locks

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This page is to help you identify your keys and locks for us over the phone so we may come out with the correct locks and keys to take care of your needs. Below is a step by step process, a video and images to help you identify your keys and locks.

Identification Methods

1) Name on the key or Lock: Kwikset or Schlage are the most common residential locks and keys. They can be stamped with their full name on the head of the key or face of the lock

2) Name Abbreviation: Kwikset is “KW” and Schlage is “SC” The most common keyways are KW1 & SC1. They are typically stamped on the key, see video of images below.

3) Name on the lock latch: look at the edge of your door on the latch for a name.

4) Key Head Shape: The majority of Kwikset and Schlage keys use different head shapes. See video.

Video: 3 ways to identify your hour keys and locks

If you need help identifying your keys or locks give us a call at 541.632.3968