Doors keep out bats, bugs, bears, blustering breezes and bad guys. That’s why we’ve used them for thousands of years. But to keep the bad guys out, you have to lock them.
The #1 means of illegal entry into a home is through unlocked doors (and windows). A small percentage of burglars will attempt entry even if you’re home. (Source: a survey of fellow inmates from John Maclean’s book Secrets of a Superthief). Unnerving? Yes!
- Measure the length of your door’s deadbolt (do this for all your exterior doors).
- If the deadbolt throws less than one inch, replace the deadbolt.
- If it extends one inch, consider having a new cylinder installed.
The one-inch throw. For deadbolts to be effective they have to extend (or “throw”) a full inch. Find a measuring tape, and measure your extended deadbolt. If it throws an inch, great. If it doesn’t, it may not stand up to a strong kick to the latch area–#2 means of illegal entry. [Ours old deadbolts barely threw three-quarters an inch. Until I did my research, we were unaware of this glaring weak spot]. Fortunately, deadbolts can be replaced by experienced DIY homeowners, or, locksmiths. Buy the best you can afford.
New Deadbolts: Best and Better
ANSI Grade 1. The best exterior residential deadbolts are rated ANSI Grade 1.
Their quality lies in tamper-proof design, superior locking mechanisms and materials, and good to great resistance to lock picking and bumping. One excellent brand, Mul-T-Lock, has 10 pins in their tumblers and are highly resistant to jimmying, bumping, and picking. Schlage’s ANSI Grade 1 has five pins. (See ANSI grade chart below).
ANSI Grade 2. ANSI Grade 2 locks offer good to moderate resistance to lock tampering, and are less expensive than Grade 1.
Overall, ANSI Grade 1 locks cost a little more and you have to look harder to find them. Locksmiths tend to carry better quality locks than big box stores. Shop around. Buy the best you can afford.
Replace Cylinders & Re-key
Cylinders & New Keys. If your deadbolt throws a full inch, great. However, if over the years, you’ve given out copies of your house key to your kids, friends, dog sitters, and cleaning people–install new cylinders in all your existing exterior deadbolts. It’s called re-keying.
How does it work?
The cylinder in the center of your deadbolt is taken out and replaced. Simple. It could be a DIY job, but more likely to one for the locksmith, especially the Mul-T-Lok. Note: cylinders can be installed into deadbolts from other manufacturers.
Benefits of re-keying:
- Well chosen cylinders make a great security upgrade. Look for ones made with hardened steel and advanced locking mechanisms.
- It’s more cost effective than replacing all the deadbolts on exterior doors
- One newly issued master key can unlock all the deadbolts on exterior doors.
It makes a lot of sense to phase in security upgrades in your home, this is a great way to start.