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How can I be sure my home locks are secure enough?
by
Checkatrade

With an increase in domestic burglary, it is important to ensure your locks are secure and not vulnerable to break ins. Here we take a look at the different types of front door locks and how you can choose the right one to ensure that your home is as secure as possible.

Home security should no doubt start at your front door as this is the gateway to your home. Recent research has shown that 74 percent of burglars gained access to properties via a door and of these 29 percent got in by forcing the locks. Secure and reliable locks are therefore the first line of defence for your home and investing in strong, solid and suitable lock installations throughout your home will provide increased protection for your family, your home and its contents.

Whether you are purchasing a new lock or replacing an existing one, when you are choosing one for your home, a number of factors need to be considered. Recommended questions to ask include:
• What kind of door is it that you have i.e. what material?
• What level of security is required?
• What is the quality of the frame that you are fitting it in?
• What are your insurance requirements – do they need to comply to British Standards?
A qualified locksmith can advise on the most suitable solution and ensure that the job is done properly.

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What are the different types of front door locks?

Mortice lock

These are the most common type for external timber doors. They are embedded (or ‘morticed’) into the door, rather than surface-mounted or clamped. The strike plate is fitted to the frame and a key is always needed to operate it.

They can have anything from two to seven levers, increasing in security with every lever that is added. The higher the number of levers, the more difficult it is for intruders to pick, therefore making it harder to force open, enhancing security levels. It is recommended to have a minimum of a five-lever mortice lock and even better still to have one that is compliant to British Standard BS3621, as this will provide a longer bolt throw, anti-drill plates and a security curtain inside. Look out for the trademark BS kitemark on the faceplate to determine if your current locks are compliant with the standard.

To take this further, there are commonly two types of mortice locks:

  • Sashlock

Sashlocks work by using a lock, latch and a set of handles so that you can open and close the door without it locking behind you. You can lock the door by turning the key, but the built-in latch means it is also possible for the door to be held closed on the latch while remaining unlocked. This is useful for a number of reasons, not least of which it reduces the chances of a lock out.

  • Deadlock
    A deadlock can only be operated with a key and works with a single bolt locking mechanism meaning that when the door shuts behind you it is not possible to open it from the outside without a key. This is essentially a sashlock, without the latch, and may act as a good deterrent for thieves.

Multi-point locking system

These are most commonly used for composite and uPVC doors. A multi-point locking system has a minimum of three locking points, where pins, hook bolts or rollers sit at the top and bottom of the door followed by a latch in the middle. All three points lock simultaneously with the turn of a key as the multi-point locking system bolts the door into the frame, giving a high level of security.

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Nightlatches

These are mounted onto the internal side of the door itself with the latch mounted on the frame. They are not recommended as the only form of security for an external entry point but can be good as a ‘secondary lock’ to provide additional security for wooden doors.

  • Standard nightlatch

Every time you close the door, the nightlatch engages and it will lock behind you. This means you need to either use the lever on the inside or the key from the outside to open it. Pushing the snib or button, which is found on the internal case of the nightlatch, up or down, holds the latch in the unlocked or locked position. However, if the snib is locked on the inside, you will not be able to use a key to get in from the outside.

  • Key deadlocking nightlatch

A deadlocking nightlatch operates in the same way as the standard version, except the bolt from the outside can be deadlocked by inserting the key into the lock after the door has closed. Once the nightlatch has been deadlocked, the latch cannot be slipped using the common method known as ‘card slipping’. However, once deadlocked from the outside, the internal handle will not be operable.

Cylinder locks

These can be used on composite and uPVC doors and offer security and practicality. Coming in two different shapes, oval and euro cylinders, these can be single or double cylinders. The different level internal pins move around inside the cylinder as the key is turned thanks to its serrated edges. Single cylinders are operated by a key on the outside but do not require one for locking/unlocking from the inside, whereas double cylinders are operated by keys on both sides. With lock snapping, bumping or cylinder drilling and screwing commonly known methods of entry for burglars, it’s important to choose the right product and remember to check the faceplate for the BS kitemark.

Protecting your home should always begin by assessing your locks. Do you need to replace or repair them? There are multiple types that will help to ensure that your home is secure enough to prevent unauthorised access. Once you have decided on your preferred products, it is advisable to have them properly fitted by a professional.

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