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Rekeying vs Changing your locks

What are the differences between rekeying vs changing your locks? Should you rekey or change your locks?

Do you know who has keys to your home or office building? Probably more people than you think. These are a few situations where you should rekey your locks:

  • Whenever a key has been lost
  • Whenever a key has been stolen
  • If you have moved recently into a new home or office space
  • If there’s been a staffing change in your organization
  • If a house member or roommate has moved out
rekeying vs changing your locks old door knob
What is a rekey?

All this means is that instead of buying new hardware like a knob or handle for your door, a locksmith will change the pins in the lock itself so that the previous keys won’t operate it. It is usually cheaper to rekey the existing hardware than to completely replace it. Rekeying your hardware is a simple solution to keeping your home and work place safe and secure. A full service locksmith shop like Harry’s Locksmith will have the knowledge and expertise to rekey homes, office buildings, car doors, and vaults and safes.

How much does Harry’s Locksmith charge to rekey locks? There’s three main factors: location, number of locks, and number of keys.

  1. Location. Our service area fees start at $49 in the Downtown Vancouver area.
  2. Number of locks. It’s approximately $12-15 per lock cylinder that we rekey.
  3. Keys. Standard residential keys are approximately $2.75.
In what circumstance do you need to change the locks?

For example, if you have had a break in or intruder recently and the locks were damaged, you want to replace the locks.  Another good reason to change your locks is worn out hardware or if you want to upgrade to a better security system. There are numerous benefits from transitioning to keyless entry or other alternative entry options.

If you’re thinking about rekeying or changing your locks, give us a call today for a free estimate and our team will help guide you through the process and pick out the best option for you. Our locksmiths are experts in their field with over 100 years of combined industry experience rekeying homes, offices, cars, filing cabinets, desks, mail boxes, and more.


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Why You Need a Panic Lock for Emergency Exits

When most of us enter or exit a building, we rarely think about all the technology that goes into making that happen. We walk in, we walk out, and we expect to remain safe in the process.

Entering and exiting is something we do dozens of times each day. We don’t think about it. We do it. Yet for many of us, there comes a time when getting out of a building as quickly as possible becomes necessary. And the normal front door operation might not do.

That’s what emergency exits are designed for. But as a business owner, it’s your job to think about emergencies before they happen. It’s important to have a panic lock for emergency exits in place to ensure safety and security for your customers and employees.

Exit Lock

In a commercial setting, the standard exit lock (also called an exit device, exit bar, or exit hardware) is often in place. It’s a locking device that consists of a bar across the inside of the door; you push on it as you exit to release the door latch. If you try to open it from the outside, the door will be locked.

This can be a great form of security in some circumstances. It provides numerous ways of exit in a large facility, without putting occupants at risk by giving multiple ways of entry. You can also install hardware that requires a key or code to enter, to allow only authorized personnel to access whatever is beyond the door.

Panic Lock

A panic lock (also called a panic bar, a crash bar, or a panic device) is used to provide quick unlocking of a door in an emergency situation. A panic lock is designed to save lives. It’s also designed for compliance with local and federal laws.

When a panic lock is used on emergency exits, it will have a spring-loaded metal bar fixed horizontally on the inside of the door. When the lever is pressed, it activates a mechanism that unlocks the door. Pushing on the bar will release the lock, making it easy to push the door outward and escape to the outside.

To be classified as a panic mechanism, it must:

  • Release easily when pressure is applied to the push bar. It must easily open in the direction of exit travel.
  • Have a push bar with a pressure of 15 pounds or less for easy use.
  • Cover at least half of the width of the door, making it easy to use in emergency situations.

Meeting Codes and Requirements

According to the International Building Code Requirements (IBC), panic locks for emergency doors are required in three different situations:

  • In assembly situations where the occupant load is greater than 50 people
  • In educational situations where the occupant load is greater than 50 people
  • In high-hazard occupancies, no matter how many people

These requirements are only in place on doors that have a lock/latch system. If it’s merely push/pull hardware without a locking mechanism, these rules don’t apply.

In some locations, commercial buildings are also required to follow the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) safety code, which requires panic hardware to be in place in four separate situations:

  1. In assembly situations with more than 100 people
  2. In educational situations with more than 100 people
  3. In daycare situations with more than 100 people
  4. In high-hazard situations with more than 5 people

Fire-Rated Doors

The idea behind having panic hardware in place is to make it easy for building occupants to exit the building. There are many reasons people evacuate: accidents, threats, and fire are just a few examples.

In some cases, doors have more than one purpose. Yes, they are designed to move people from one area to the next. But in commercial applications, doors along the path of an emergency route may also be designed to slow the spread of smoke and fire.

Fire-rated doors are installed as a part of an overall fire-prevention strategy, which helps keep a fire contained to smaller areas within a larger facility. This helps building occupants stay safer while evacuation procedures take place and helps emergency personnel get in and out safely throughout the rescue process.

Fire-rated doors and other fire-rated building materials are usually located internally and are not included as a part of the exterior structure. They include:

  • Doors that lead into stairwells
  • Doors that lead to common hallways
  • Doors that connect separate locations inside the building

All fire-rated exit devices must be panic exits by default.

Other Panic Lock Considerations

Panic hardware is designed to keep people safe. There are a few additional rules to keep in mind when installing panic locks for emergency exits.

Once a panic door is in place as required, no additional locking device can be installed. That means you can’t install a deadlock, padlock, chain, or other locking device to increase the security of the door. The panic hardware cannot be equipped with anything that prevents the release of the lock the way it was intended.

If a panic lock is used on a fire door, it must include fire exit hardware and be clearly labeled as a fire exit, stating, “Fire Door to be Equipped with Fire Exit Hardware.” Fire exit hardware is different in that it has a “dogging” mechanism that locks into place to prevent the spread of fire. A retraction device may be used to provide this dogging process, as long as the latch slips into place automatically when fire or smoke are detected.

If your commercial building is at risk for other possible emergencies, such as hurricane, tornado, or earthquake, you might be under other codes and regulations. Consult the rules in your area to be sure you are in compliance with the regulations.

While panic locks for emergency exits are mostly installed for compliance and safety concerns, they can also be installed for convenience, security, or even durability as well. In some cases, panic locks make it easier for your customers and employees to move around. And because they add strength to your entry points, they might last for years longer than other locking mechanisms you might be considering.

Have a question about the best way to protect your property and comply with laws and regulations too? Harry’s Locksmith can help. Give us a call today.

Lockout/Tagout Solutions for Facility Managers

What is lockout/tagout?
Lockout/Tagout (aka LOTO) is a system that outlines measures for controlling hazardous energies like electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, chemical, and thermal. Industrial production facilities use lockout/tagout products to first lock a switch or valve with a safety device and to indicate when a piece of machinery or equipment should not be turned on until completion of maintenance or servicing work.

Why is lockout/tagout important?
The lockout/tagout standard is designed to protect the 3 million plus employees who service or maintain machines or equipment that may be exposed to serious harm or death if hazardous energy isn’t properly controlled. Non-compliance with this standard routinely results in worker related injuries and sometimes even deaths. According to the OSHA, compliance with the lockout/tagout standard prevents and estimated 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year.

How do you protect your building and workers?
Employers are responsible for protecting employees from hazardous energy sources on machines and equipment during service and maintenance. Use only lockout/tagout devices authorized for the equipment and ensure that the lockout/tagout devices identify the individual users. Most importantly, make sure to have a documented and enforced energy control procedure for your building and its employees.

Where do you buy lockout/tagout supplies?
Harry’s Locksmith is a one-stop security shop for property managers in Vancouver and the Portland metro area. From padlocks to lockout kits and labels, we carry in stock Abus safety lockout/tagout solutions.

Harry’s Locksmith provides the products and services you need to help keep your building secure and OSHA compliant. The OSHA LOTO standard has 5 requirements that all safety products and devices must meet:
1) Durable
2) Substantial
3) Standardized
4) Identifiable
5) Exclusive for safety

Click here to read the full OSHA standard for The Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout), Title 29 Code of Federal Regulations.

For more information on LOTO products or to purchase LOTO supplies, give us a call at 360-696-4901.


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The Exit Locks You Need in Your Commercial Building: Panic vs. Fire

Emergency Exit Locks

The first rule of any emergency situation is to be prepared. Be prepared with a game plan, an organized response, and an exit strategy. Harry’s Locksmith, your Vancouver locksmith, is here to help you with the latter. We want you to have the correct exit locks in place in case of an emergency.

While we certainly want your commercial building to be secure from unauthorized personnel, we also want you to be able to get out of the building quickly and efficiently when necessary. That’s why we’re going to tell you exactly what exit locks you’ll need in case of a panic or fire emergency.

One of the top concerns we hear from our clients involves the degree of security in their building. We know you work hard and want to protect your business and investments. It makes sense that you would want to ensure your building is impenetrable.

But while your building’s security is of the utmost importance, so too is your safety. That’s why Harry’s Locksmith stocks a variety of exit locks that will allow you to move through and out of the building as needed.

Panic Lock

The first type of safety lock you’ll want to secure on your commercial building is a panic lock. This type of lock can be disabled quickly in the event of an emergency. History has shown us that panic bars are essential in a variety of life and death situations. In fact, panic locks, or bars, came about as a result of the 1903 Iroquois Theatre Fire in Chicago, which claimed the lives of 600 people who were unable to exit through the theater’s locked doors.

Panic hardware typically consists of a metal bar placed horizontally across the door. While the door is securely locked from the outside, the metal bar (also known as a push bar or crash bar) can be pushed, thus disabling the latch and allowing for a quick exit from a commercial building. This can help in a variety of emergencies from an active shooter situation to a bomb threat and everything in between.

Panic locks are essential because in heightened situations in which you may panic, you don’t want to be fumbling with locks or otherwise losing precious time. Panic locks ensure that you’re able to exit the building both quickly and efficiently. Not only are they required by certain commercial building codes, they are essential in keeping your tenants, employees, and other building occupants safe.

Fire Exit Locks

Likewise, fire exit locks also allow you to vacate the building quickly in emergency situations. As with panic hardware, fire hardware became standard for commercial buildings following tragic historical events, such as a 1908 fire at the Lake View School in Collinwood, Ohio. As the blog entry notes, “Large numbers of panicking children could not open the latches and ended up crushing each other in an effort to escape.” Following those events, fire safety regulations were altered across the country and the first model of a panic bar was introduced.

Now, many commercial building codes require the use of such locks. So what’s the difference between a fire exit lock and a panic lock? Firstly, fire exit locks are used on fire rated doors. A fire rated door prevents the spread of fire and is typically composed of heavier parts than a panic door.

Another key difference between fire hardware and panic hardware is that a fire exit lock must re-latch upon closing. This requirement helps the door withstand the pressures of the fire and limit its spread to other areas of the building.

How do you know which lock you’ll need for your commercial building? As mentioned, some of that will be determined by international building code. But part of it will also be determined by the purpose of your particular building and its use.

For instance, there are many variations on panic hardware and fire exit hardware that can be installed based on your individual building needs. An infant-care unit at a hospital, for instance, may opt to have a delayed egress locking system installed on its doors. Delayed egress locking systems allow security personnel more time to thoroughly vet those attempting to enter and leave the area.

Such systems also disable the delayed egress locking mechanism once the automatic sprinkler system or automatic fire detection system is activated, thereby allowing occupants to quickly vacate the building in fire emergencies.

On the other hand, you may want to have sensor releases on your doors that will detect when someone is approaching. For example, a building serving the physically disabled may want to ensure occupants are able to quickly exit the building when necessary. Sensors remove the need to physically push the panic bar by detecting when individuals are approaching the door from within the building, allowing for an easy means of egress.

There are many factors to consider when selecting panic and fire exit hardware for your building. One item of importance is that while panic locks and fire exit locks can be life-saving measures, they will only work if properly installed. You don’t want to take any chances when it comes to your safety and security. That’s why it’s important to contact your trusted Vancouver locksmith to ensure proper installation of such locks.

Harry’s Locksmith serves the Greater Vancouver, Portland Metro area and businesses along the Pacific Northwest I-5 corridor. We’re an established regional and community partner since 1949. Our locksmiths are experts in their field and can also answer any questions you have about which lock to place where. After all, locks aren’t one size fits all.

We want to make sure that you are choosing the ones most appropriate for the safety and security of your occupants. That’s why we’ll customize your exit locks to best suit you and your commercial building. And remember, enhanced safety doesn’t have to mean compromised security. We’ll make sure you have the best of both worlds, so that you and your occupants feel safe, as well as secure.

Why is the Electric Strike Lock Door Handle Hot?

Have you ever gone to grab the handle of a door and it felt strangely warm? While your instincts might have been screaming fire, there may have been another explanation for this sensation. And every builder of residential homes and commercial buildings should be aware of it.

New construction buildings that have electrified door locks have all sorts of unique quirks that one new to construction might not be familiar with. But even the experienced builder should learn a thing or two about the new technology available for locks and door handles. Electric strike locks enables the electric release of a locked mechanical latch or bolt. But if you’ve ever passed by an electric strike lock door and felt heat coming off the handle, your gut reaction might be to concern.

Nothing is scarier than feeling heat coming off that metal, especially if you’re mind goes to images of metal working and shaping. But a hot strike lock is a different sort of problem all together. Though it might seem like a sure sign that something is malfunctioning in your electrified door lock, there are reasonable explanations why an electric strike lock might get hot.

We here are Harry’s Locksmith have found the three reasons why your electrified door lock might be hot. While it might seem dangerous, we assure you there is a simple fix if a hot strike lock is your problem.

Why Use An Electrified Door Lock

Many commercial buildings choose electric strike locks because it gives them greater control over the timing of when a door may or may not be accessed. A master control panel will regulate the hours during the day or night when a door is open, or even who has access to that door with the appropriate credentials.

An electrified door lock can make commercial or community spaces more safe and protected. However, just like any door, there are several ways that these types of locks can malfunction and get too hot for comfort.

It’s in Constant Use

Construction professionals hear questions all the time about electric strikes that are hot to the touch. But the number one reason why that might be the case is that the door is in constant use and therefore is being powered continuously.

Often this is a problem if the lock is being used for several hours a day without rest and most electrified door locks run continuously because they use electricity to remain locked for part of the day.

If a door is unlocked through the use of an electrical timer, the lock or the strike that is controlled by the timer is run continuously for part of the timing cycle. Which means that the electric power that flows through the latch and bolt has ‘burned out’ solenoid. Which brings us to the second reason for a hot-to-the-touch electrified door lock.

The Coil Pack is Old

A ‘burnt out’ or ‘burnt in’ solenoid is the result of an old strike. Over time the coil pack inside the solenoid becomes less efficient and eventually the potting inside the solenoids melt or ‘burn in.’

A solenoid can reach up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but once it exceeds this temperature is when things start to get risky.

When the potting ‘burns in’ it takes more amperage to power the lock because there is more resistance in the electrical circuit as it passes through the coil.

And though the phrase ‘burned out’ might seem scary, when this happens there is no reason to believe that the solenoid will catch on fire. It simply means that the solenoid has been worn so much so that it no longer functions properly. If this is the case, your coil pack may be running toward the end of its life cycle and it will be time to replace the unit with a new electrified door lock.

There are Problems With Your Power Supply

The source of power for your electrified door lock can also be the root of your hot door handle issues. The resistance in your coil will only be exacerbated if there are problems with the your power supply.

A power supply with less than sufficient amperage to consistently power your strike lock will cause your solenoid to “run” hotter. Additionally, a drop in the current of energy, say through a long wire run with inadequate wire gauge, will cause the solenoid to not receive sufficient current, also causing the lock to run hot.

On the hand, a voltage supply that is too high, higher than the solenoid is rated to accept, will also result in a hot strike lock.

But it’s important to remember that sometimes solenoids just run hot. However, if the lock or handle seems like it could cause injury or is unusable, disconnect the device and call a professional locksmith to inspect what the problem might be.

Another great tip, according to Door Hardware Genius, to prevent overheating (after first making sure that your power supply issues have been resolved, if that is the root of the problem) is to use an electrified door strike with full inrush voltage and current upon activation and then reduce the voltage and/or current to a holding level, which will allow the solenoid to run cooler.

If fixing your electric strike lock door temperature seems like a task too dangerous for you to fix on your own, why not let our team at Harry’s Locksmith send over one of our talented technicians to walk you through the process. We offer a full range of commercial and residential locksmith services and have been a part of the Vancouver, Washington community for over 60 years.

Allow us to treat you like family, as we have with all of our customers since we first opened our doors in 1949. Our services include facilities upgrades; lock installation, repair, and replacement; electrified locks, strikes panic hardware, security doors, ada compliance, and mag locks installation and repair; and even door installation, repair, or replacement.

No matter what needs you have for your home or business, we’ll be happy to help.

The Major Differences Between Electrified Locks and Electric Strikes

Businesses used to rely on the traditional lock and key, just like homes. But the security just didn’t hold up. Thankfully, tremendous strides have been made in the locksmith industry and there are options to fit doors and budgets of all sizes.

Today, a hot option for businesses is to protect their spaces via electronic entrances. The benefits are numerous. Owners can easily determine who is coming in and out of the space, are no longer regularly replacing lost keys, and don’t have to replace said keys every time there is a staffing change.

Even within electronic entrances, there are various options, but you should understand the difference between fail-safe and fail-secure locking devices.

Fail-safe and Fail-Secure Locking Devices

With fail-safe locks, the default state is actually unlocked. To keep it locked during normal business operations, power is applied. Should the power be interrupted or fail, the door automatically unlocks or releases to let people out of the space.

The Major Differences Between Electrified Locks & Electric Strikes

Fail-safe locks are mostly used for main entry points like office doors or lobby access doors. A popular use for this application is maglocks which, by design, require power to operate.

With fail-secure locks, if the power is interrupted or fails, the door stays locked. Its default state is locked or secured, so the door gets locked when power is removed. Fail-secure locks are often used for IT rooms or other sensitive areas.

However, because the door keeps locked in emergencies, typically it will be used in conjunction with a mechanical override, such as a regular key. Fail-secure locks are used for fire-related doors or staircase (stairwell) doors. The reason is that in the case of a fire, those doors should remain closed to seal off a portion of the space and help reduce the fire from spreading.

To make the best decision for your location you’ll want to consider cost, convenience, and having the proper fail-safes in place. This is what you’ll want to know before visiting with the closest locksmith.

1. Electric Strikes

Electric strikes are generally used with metal or wood doors. They can also be used in conjunction with a deadbolt, which is good because if you are not currently using something electronic, odds are you are using a deadbolt and will need something that is compatible.

There are many ways to describe an electric strike, but the easiest way to understand what it is would be to think of it like a door buzzer in an apartment building. Electric strikes work virtually the exact same way.

No physical key is needed, but the door remains locked while only authorized users can be buzzed in. This most commonly is done in the form of a buzzer, keypad, fob reader, or key card.

Given its compatibility with wood and metal doors and general affordability compared to other electronic door security options, electric strikes are a very popular both in the home and for commercial properties.

Fail-secure and fail-safe measures can both be easily taken with an electric strike as well. If the power goes out, the fail-secure with an electric strike is that the doors remain locked, but can be opened manually either by turning the door latch or using a physical key.

2. Electric Push Bars or Exit Bars

These are generally used in order to comply with fire code. The doors are locked by default, but the push bars make a fast exit from a building possible in the event of a fire.

You will often see the push bars on side entrance doors in large buildings and they are required by law in a lot of cases because if there is a fire, people can run down a flight of stairs and push the bar quickly to get out.

A push bar allows a building to have a modern access control system operating its doors while also complying with safety and fire code regulations, making it a suitable option in many cases.

3. Magnetic Locks

These types of locks are perfect for a modern office building because most architects now design buildings with elegant glass doors and those are not always compatible with physical locks.

They operate using a powerful electromagnet attached to the top door frame at the corner with a corresponding metal plate on the door itself, meaning the locks work just like two large magnets.

Magnetic locks are a workaround for those designs and the amount of force necessary to operate the door’s opening and closing usually varies based on how large the door is in each scenario. As a result, magnetic locks can be a very classy option.

However, it should be kept in mind that they quite often require motion sensors and backup batteries to operate. They are also one of the more expensive options, so if you are on a budget and looking to cut costs, magnetic locks are probably not the way you want to go.

4. Electrified Mortise Locks / Wired Mortise Locks

These are an excellent option because they are incredibly easy to use and operate. Mortise locks operate almost entirely like a standard lock that most people have been conditioned to use all of their lives, except they have a power cable connecting the lock to the power supply.

The only somewhat complicated part is that mortise locks require a wire to go through the doors and into the main wall, meaning you either need to use electrified door hinges or on-wall cabling to make them work.

These locks can be set up to be either fail-safe or fail-secure depending on your personal preference.

Some more expensive mortise locks can be set up to switch between fail-safe and fail-secure mode, but it can be a little complicated to install it that way, so if you choose to go that route, you will want to consult with the closest locksmith.

Although mortise locks are a classy option like magnetic locks, unlike magnetic locks, they are not compatible with glass doors, so that must be kept in mind when deciding whether or not to use them.

Harry’s Locksmith has been a regional and community partner for businesses and residents since 1949. Our service areas include the Greater Vancouver area, Portland metro area, and the Pacific Northwest I-5 corridor. There’s no job too big or small for our team of locksmiths who are experts in their field. Our specialties include security doors, keyless entry, ada compliance, master rekeying, and fire door rating inspections.