If you currently have a deadbolt and lock that you purchased at one of the big box stores or at your local hardware store, you may have a lock intended only to keep out flying lizards.  Most of these, according to tests run by police services around the country are pretty much worthless when it comes to security.

Most can be opened with a paper clip, a credit card or a screwdriver.  So, what should you look for when you buy a new lock for your home?

Tips for Buying the Right Doorknob Lock

Locksets that have a key that goes into the knob are the first thing to avoid. Look for a locking system that has a key insert above the doorknob. This is especially imperative if you have the handle type that is so popular today.

Make sure that the plate that holds both the knob and the lock is made of steel even if it appears to be brass.  Brass is a very soft metal that can easily be compromised. When you have this installed, be certain that the exterior plate is sealed so that it cannot be loosened from the outside exposing the locking mechanism.

Tips for Buying the Best Deadbolt Lock

Take time when you are buying a deadbolt to read all the specifications on the packages.  Just because you find a brand name that claims to be “high-security” does not mean that it really is.  It may look secure.

It may even have the necessary double-cylinders that are part of the requirements for high-security deadbolt identification.  But, if it fails to meet other requirements, it may just be a great gimmick instead of a safety feature.

The best high-security deadbolts are made of steel with a ½” thick shank that extends 3” or more into the receiving wall.  They will come with a steel “box strike” rather than just a plate.  The strike is the area that receives the bolt.  It should also come with steel screws that are long enough to go into the stud beyond the frame – generally 2-3” in length.

Double-cylinder deadbolts that require a key to open the door from either side have been outlawed by some fire departments. The response from manufacturers has been to make a “panic-proof” deadbolt that can be opened in emergencies with a single action.

Tips on Keeping Your Locks Safe

Even if you have a high-security deadbolt installed, it can be compromised by a window near the door that can be broken to allow a thief to open the lock.  Replace glass panels in or next to a door.  Replace and seal up doggie doors and mailbox slots as well. These are excellent openings for thieves to use with specially made tools.

Have your high-security locks installed by a locksmith that is licensed and bonded.  A handyman to repair your sink is not putting your life at risk. If the same handyman installs a high-security lock just a bit wrong, you could have unexpected and very unwelcome company at 2:00 a.m.

Have someone with a bit of knowledge test your locks immediately after they are installed – the locksmith would do this anyway. Finally, have a locksmith check and maintain your locks at least once a year.

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