Will I be able to use my existing key or existing master key system with new hardware?
If the proper hardware has been ordered using the letters and/or numbers off the head of the key, then it is usually possible to key to your existing keys. Most often, it is physically possible to key the locks to an existing master key system. However, there are standards that must be met in order for these things to be done properly.
We’ll address keying to an existing key first. First and foremost, the key you are requesting we use must be cut to manufacturers specifications. Using a worn key or a “generational key” creates a situation where we can only guarantee the lock will work with the single key provided.
A “generational key” is a copy of a key that is not original to manufacturers’ specifications. The first copy of an original is a 1st generation key. The copy made from the 1st copy is a 2nd generation key. The copy made from the 2nd copy is a 3rd generation key and so on. Some places do a good job cutting keys and adjust their key machines on a regular basis. Many do not.
Are My Keys Able to be Copied by Anybody?
Most keys in use today may be duplicated. If you have provided a key to an employee, a contractor, or a cleaning company, then even if you get the key back, you can’t know if a copy has been made. Many people feel that if they have the key stamped “DO NOT DUPLICATE” they have solved the problem. The fact is that there is no law to prevent key duplication if a key is stamped that way unless the key belongs to a state or federal agency or the US Postal Service.
Most manufacturers do make a line of locks and keys which do have key duplication restrictions. The locks and keys have patents which limit production of the key blanks to the original manufacturer. The manufacturer then controls key blank distribution through contracts with the distributors of their products.
For top shelf protection, we recommend Medeco High-Security Locks which are tested for resistance to forced entry, pick resistance, and drill resistance in addition to the key duplication restrictions. Medeco also produces a line of locks, KeyMark, that focus on the key duplication restrictions only and therefore may save you money by not buying features you don’t feel you need. Medeco and KeyMark also make a wide variety of replacement cylinders that may fit into existing hardware thereby saving you money. In many cases, you won’t have to buy complete replacement hardware for this reason.