Emergency Locksmiths: The Benefits, Uses, and Costs Explained

Dec 16, 2020locksmith

emergency locksmiths

What do you do if you’ve gotten locked out of your home or vehicle after hours? Locksmiths have downtime, like anyone else, and might not be available.

But that’s why the profession has a category called “emergency locksmiths.” As with any locksmiths, the vast majority of emergency locksmiths are hardworking professionals. Their goal is to help people handle difficult situations—like yours.

How can an emergency locksmith help you when you’re in trouble or unexpectedly need locksmith services? That’s what we’ll discuss here. Keep reading so you’ll be ready for a lock-related crisis should one happen.

What Are Emergency Locksmiths?

Emergency locksmiths are thoroughly trained and certified locksmiths. These professionals happen to specialize in handling urgent situations, though. And this means they have made certain adjustments to their lifestyles and workplaces.

For example:

  • Emergency locksmiths need to juggle their schedules in various ways to accommodate 27/7 emergency service
  • Emergency locksmiths usually work out of specially equipped vans, not offices or storefronts
  • Emergency locksmiths have little to no time to prepare for the situation they will face upon arrival at the scene

We should be very grateful that so many people enjoy the benefits of an emergency locksmith’s unpredictable lifestyle.

How Much Do Emergency Locksmiths Cost?

One benefit emergency locksmiths enjoy is being able to charge a bit extra for their services. It isn’t much for the customers, but these small amounts can add up for the locksmiths themselves.

So what does an emergency locksmith cost? It depends on the situation and circumstances:

  • How far will the locksmith need to travel?
  • What time of day or night is the call?
  • The type of service(s) needed

Locksmiths cost $155 per call on average, with a typical range between $100 and $225 based on a home help site review. Emergency locksmiths’ added costs range from $100-250 for an upfront surcharge or augmented charges for ordinary services.

Of course, the emergency locksmith cost will vary considerably. But, you should expect an itemized invoice so you can account for all the charges. You might be surprised by all the locksmith did!

How to Choose the Right Emergency Locksmith

As with any profession, some locksmiths are better than others. Whether you’re choosing a regular or emergency locksmith, you should perform a careful check on the locksmith you’re considering.

We realize this fact-finding work can be challenging and stressful when you’re facing an emergency. But this type of situation makes checking that much more important. It’s a matter of safety.

According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), there are things you should check before hiring locksmith services of any kind. Even in an urgent situation, you should take the time to research the business.

Here’s what to investigate when finding a convenient locksmith business:

  • Ask the person responding for the full, legal name of the company.
  • Research the business address—if something seems suspicious, find out why.
  • Do a quick internet search, focusing on words like “complaint” or scanning reviews with fewer than four stars.
  • Request a cost estimate and ask that the locksmith bring it on the call.

Here’s what to check when the locksmith arrives:

  • Ask for and check the locksmith’s ID and business card, and be sure everything matches the information you received.
  • Review the written estimate and ask about any changes to what you heard during the call.
  • Ask for proof of insurance and any required state certifications or licenses.
  • Be very wary of a locksmith wanting to drill into your lock; this shouldn’t be necessary.
  • Before paying, get a written invoice, with the company name, that lists all costs: labor, replacement parts, and all fees.

Remember: if you did your research as we’ve described, you’re likely to have had a good emergency locksmith experience. So be sure to save their contact information in case another emergency arises.

What Are the Benefits of an Emergency Locksmith?

An emergency locksmith might work as a one-person operation or part of a larger locksmith business. Either way, the individual in this role is likely to have certain qualities that benefit their customers.

Locksmiths who have been on the job for a while are likely to be experienced and dependable. You can also expect them to be adaptable and prepared enough to address whatever situation they might find when arriving at the scene.

Emergency locksmiths will also be prepared for all but the most obscure emergency needs. Even in the unlikely event that an emergency locksmith lacks certain parts or equipment, they’ll provide a temporary fix and return as soon as possible.

Today’s Sophisticated Locks

Have you ever thought about how much advanced education today’s locksmiths must have to work with new technologies? We’re referring to both those that enhance older, more familiar devices.

But we also need to discuss how the newer digital technologies have affected traditional locking mechanisms. Imagine what would happen to emergency locksmiths who arrive at a scene, only to face an unfamiliar technology.

That simply can’t happen if today’s locksmith industry is to stay in business. Fortunately, though, new technologies have opened new avenues in our industry. Many DIY-minded homeowners have now learned some of the tricks of our trade!

Common Emergency Locksmith Services 

We considered what might constitute standard emergency locksmith services. Then, we thought about creating separate categories for lock emergencies on the road and those at a home or business.

It occurred to us that there are few significant differences (and we’ll note those that do exist). Locking and security technology for vehicles and buildings alike has evolved.

Both have gone from purely mechanical to those augmented by digital technologies. We believe there will always be a mechanical component to locks and other security devices—our industry depends on it.

Broken Key

We’ll begin with what most certainly is an “old technology” concern: the broken key. Many of today’s automotive and home locks no longer even use traditional metal keys. They’re more likely to use digital codes and wireless transmission technologies.

A “broken key” is more a symbol of the old vs. new issues we see facing emergency locksmiths today. Many older buildings and vehicles still grapple with old-style locks—which could be damaged by age and the process of removing broken keys.

These locks could be rusted inside or even damaged by a long-ago break-in attempt. It makes extracting a broken key more of a challenge than it might be otherwise. But there’s plenty of advice out there explaining how to handle a simple broken key.

Accidental Lockout

Accidental lockout is a widespread occurrence with both buildings and vehicles. Typically, someone locks the key(s) inside, tries to “break in,” and ends up calling a locksmith for help. Let’s look at both cases.

Home Lockout

Accidental lock-outs can be more complicated. Not long ago, emergency locksmiths could open a locked vehicle or residential door using simple tools. Key-bumping is among the easiest ways to pick a lock.

Seeing key-bumping in action should make you nervous about your personal safety and security. Other, more complicated lock-picking techniques are out there as well. One of the best solutions to criminal lock-picking is to invest in a keyless lock.

Keyless locks can help prevent getting locked out of your home. It’s true, but only as long as you and others living with you have or know the necessary means of opening the door in question.

There are several keyless home-entry methods to consider here:

  • Combination locks have been around for a long time and have established ways of being picked.
  • Keypad locks, like combination locks, are relatively easy for criminals to pick, especially if there is no multi-factor authentication involved. 
  • Biometric locks, whether using facial recognition, a genetic sensor, or an iris sensor, can be tricky to pick
  • Smartphone locks, while giving the illusion of being easy to pick, benefit from needing user authentication via both the phone and the lock.

How would emergency locksmiths approach keyless locks? Especially ones using digital technology? The simple (and somewhat naïve) answer is that they can be opened if they can be built.

There is a grain of truth here. Manufacturers, legal authorities, and others have to keep records on keyless (and other digital) locks’ internal workings.

If and how professional locksmiths gain access to this documentation is a closely guarded trade secret. Try asking one of us and see how we respond.

Vehicle Lockout

Vehicle lockouts are a common occurrence, even today. But how similar is a vehicle lockout to a home lockout? We would have to answer by pointing out that it’s more about the type of lock than where it’s housed.

Today, there are three main vehicle door locks: manual cylinder locks, locks with PIN pads, and remote keyless systems. Technology-wise, each locking mechanism supersedes its predecessor.

During the late 20th Century, pin locks were quite popular since they required no keys or key fobs. However, PIN pad locks tend to become unreliable after prolonged use due to internal leakage and exposure to the elements.

Today, the standard for new vehicles is the remote keyless lock. This locking mechanism often uses a key fob containing a pop-out key to use in the cylinder lock if needed. But what happens if you accidentally lock your key in the vehicle?

Not surprisingly, the answer is: call a locksmith. Many people know how to open keyed vehicle door locks. But, as with building locks, digital and remote-entry locks can be more challenges.

As we said above, ask a locksmith for the secret answer.

Lock Rekeying

Rekeying alters a lock’s inside mechanism by installing a newer, more efficient set of tumblers. Whether you’re a homeowner or renter, you need to know why periodic rekeying is essential.

Answer this question for yourself by thinking about these questions:

  • How long have you owned or rented your home, and was it rekeyed when you moved in?
  • Who all has a key to your home: friends, relatives, neighbors, home contractors, babysitters, pet sitters, former romantic partners, friends, and relatives who let you down or got in trouble with the law?
  • How long ago were your current locks installed, and what is their condition?

If none of these questions provokes your concern, you must have gotten new locks relatively recently.

Why You Should Rekey a New Home

Upon moving into a new house, condo, or apartment, you must prioritize changing all the entry locks. Since you don’t know who all might have keys, try to do this before your first night in the new place.

Is this considered an emergency? Something for which you would hire emergency locksmiths? The answer is probably “yes,” especially if you’re unfamiliar with the new neighborhood (and neighbors).

Chances are that you’ve moved into a home that’s old enough to have all keyed locks. It takes most locksmiths less than ten minutes to rekey a lock. If you multiply that by the total number of locks, that’s how long it should take to rekey your home.

If you’re renting, be sure to check with the landlord or property manager before calling emergency locksmith services, though. For one thing, they might already have had the place rekeyed. For another, doing this should be their responsibility.

Why and How Often Should You Rekey Your Home’s Exterior Deadbolts and Locks?

The well-established Schlage lock manufacturer lists several reasons. These are cosmetic, practical, and safety-focused. And address our questions above. They range from making your entryway more attractive to possibly weakened hardware to someone who’s no longer part of your life.

Call an Emergency Locksmith, Won’t You?

Did you realize before reading this article how vital emergency locksmiths can be? They help ensure your comfort, safety, and (let’s face it) busy schedule. We’ll bet you never knew what all it takes to be an effective emergency locksmith.

Now that you know, we hope you’ll be more prudent in guarding your home and vehicle safety. Not to mention, we want you to think more carefully and critically about what having locks on your home and vehicle really means.

How can a locksmith help you today? Contact New Braunfels Locksmith Pros to find out. Having emergency locksmiths you trust can make all the difference in your lock-related emergency!