Reinforce and Burglar Proof Your Entry Door -- by Home Repair Tutor
How to Burglarproof Your Doors
Burglaries are always a concern for homeowners. But what's the best way to keep your house safe? Undoubtedly you've already installed an alarm system (if not, do so right away), and maybe you've got a guard dog patrolling your property too. Statistics prove that most burglars enter a house through the front or back door. So keep those doors locked and secure. Here are some suggestions.
Do You Have the Right Door?
Get the right doors.If your front and back doors are hollow, you need to replace them immediately. How do you know if your door is hollow? Simply knock on it. Hollow doors are merely sheets of veneer over a cardboard core. All exterior doors should be solid and made from the following materials:
- Solid wood
- Solid wood core (a layer of veneer over solid wood)
- Metal (Note: make sure metal doors are reinforced inside and have what is called a lock block. Otherwise, they can be bent out of the frame using a car jack)
If installing/replacing a new door and frame, consider a fiberglass door that swings outward rather than inward (and don't forget using security hinges).Having a door open in this way helps absorb any type of forced entry.
Replace all windowed exterior doors with windowless doors.For maximum security, all doors should be windowless, and you should not have windows close enough to the door so that a thief could break the window and unlock the door from the inside. A deadbolt isn't much help on any door like this for that reason. A big dog's the only possible hindrance with these doors, but only with the landlord's permission.
- If you do have sliding glass doors, glass door panels or nearby windows, however, cover the glass with a security grate or grille on the outside or a clear, unbreakable polycarbonate panel secured behind the glass on the inside.
Lock Your Doors
In a significant percentage of burglaries, the criminal enters the victim's home through an unlocked door. Even the strongest locks in the world are useless if you don't use them. Lock all exterior doors whenever you go out - even if you'll just be gone a few minutes.
Install deadbolt locks.With the exception of sliding doors, all exterior doors should have a deadbolt lock in addition to the lock built into the doorknob. The deadbolt should be high quality (grade 1 or 2, solid metal with no exposed screws on the exterior), with a throw bolt (the bolt that comes out of the door) at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) long. The lock should be properly installed. Many homes have lower quality deadbolts or throw bolts less than 1 inch (2.5 cm). These must be replaced.
Install a dead-lock.Adding an additional lock will provide extra security when you are home. The dead-lock (sometimes called an 'exit-only deadbolt') is a deadbolt that does not have an external key. It may be clearly visible on the door from the outside, but it cannot be broken into without destroying the door, frame, or lock itself. While this security won't help directly when you aren't home, its visibility may discourage an intruder from trying the door.
Secure sliding doors.The best way to secure sliding doors is to install keyed locks at the top and bottom. You can also make or purchase a bar that swings down from the door frame to the middle of the door to prevent the door from sliding. At the very least, place a rod (a thick wooden dowel, for example) in the bottom track of the door to keep it from being opened. Regardless of the method you use, it's a good idea to reinforce the glass with polycarbonate panels, as recommended in the previous step.
Reinforce Your Entryway
Install cylinder guards around the lock cylinders (the part where you insert the key).Burglars can sometimes remove or damage lock cylinders by hammering, wrenching, or prying. Protect these with metal guard plates or protective rings on both sides of the door. Install guard plates with round-head carriage bolts to prevent them from being unscrewed. Free-spinning rings around the cylinders will prevent the use of a pipe wrench to twist out the cylinder. Many locks come with these already, but if yours doesn't, you can purchase them.
Replace flimsy strike plates.The strike plate is the metal plate that surrounds the lock-set (the hole in the door frame where the lock bolt enters). All exterior doors should have heavy-duty metal security strike plates secured by four 3-inch screws. Many homes are built with lower quality strike plates or have strike plates that are secured with short screws that just attach to the door jamb, not the underlying stud.
Secure exposed hinges.Hinges should be on the inside of the door. If yours are not, rehang the door or secure the exposed hinges with non-removable pins. You can do this by removing at least the two center screws of the hinge (on each side) and replacing them with non-removable hinge pins (you can get these at the hardware store) or double-headed masonry nails. Even hinges that are not exposed should be secured to the frame with 3-inch screws.
Fortify your frame.Even if your door is strong and has high-quality, properly installed locks, a burglar may be able to gain entry by breaking or prying the door frame. Most door frame moldings are simply tacked to the wall, so a crowbar or a solid kick can easily separate the frame from the wall. Secure your door frames to the walls by installing several 3-inch screws along the frame and doorstop. The screws should reach the wall stud.
Install viewers.Viewers (also calledpeepholes) allow you to see who is on the other side of the door. Install wide-angle viewers at eye level on all exterior doors. If you have to open your door to see, your locks won't do you much good. Try to find peepholes with covers to prevent people from looking back in with special tools, like a reverse peephole viewer.
QuestionI'm renting and my landlord will not make my door secure. The hinges are on the outside and the strikerplate is crap. Is there any other way than a deadbolt to secure my door? I have been burglarized more than once.Glenn LetteerCommunity AnswerInstalling a security pin on the "hinge edge" of your door will prevent the door from being removed if an individual were to remove the pins in the hinges. Once this is complete, install a deadbolt. You can do it yourself if your landlord won't do it.Thanks!
QuestionThere are people in our neighborhood stealing things from open garages. What do I do?Community AnswerWell, for starters, make sure your garage is always closed if you are not pulling in or pulling out.Thanks!
QuestionMy door has hinges that don't come on either side. The door hangs on the wall. How can I be sure the door is safe? I have been burglarized six times and shot once. How can I keep the door closed?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerInvest in a better door with more locks and possibly a home security system. Having all that happen means you're an easy target.Thanks!
QuestionI live in a townhouse, and I have an alarm system, but I believe my home is being entered by someone that works in maintenance. I put in new locks, but I still think they are entering through the back.Savannah BowenCommunity AnswerIf you put in new locks, it is unlikely that anybody but maintenance is entering your home. If nothing is being taken, try to ignore the problem unless there is specific evidence that shows that somebody has broken into your house. If the problem persists, report that someone has been breaking into your house.Thanks!
QuestionTwice when having cable TV installed in my apartment, the installer had to lay a fairly large cable through the sliding glass door. Although the door will close, it will not lock. What can be done?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can drill a small hole through the wall for the cable to go through. Many cable companies have policies regarding where they can and can't run cable. It might be worth it to ask the company if they approve of the cable being run through the sliding glass door. If not, they should come take care of it. A lot of times you can hire the cable installer to take care of things like this on the side, on your dime. Some of them will even hook up free cable for the right price!Thanks!
Is there a plate that I could buy to put over the lock to stop scumbags snapping keys off in the lock?
Is a padlock safe when burglarproofing my doors?
How can I get my door to shut more quickly?
What kind of external keyed patio door lock is best for the door tracks?
How can I protect my door if it can be unscrewed to gain entry?
- Doors and their hardware need maintenance from time to time, and poorly maintained doors make it easier for a thief to enter your house. In particular, make sure the tracks for sliding doors are in good repair and that the door stays in the track.
- Add a security camera. Even 1 or 2 economical cameras can deter would-be thieves. You can set them up to record going to your computer or phone. Uniden makes good systems that won't break the bank.
- When placing a rod behind a sliding door, use PVC, wood, or aluminum. Avoid steel, as it can be lifted with strong magnets. The PVC, wood, or aluminum will give a burglar ample resistance to opening the door. Once they feel it is too hard, they will move on to an easier target.
- Garage doors are notoriously easy to enter, so use the same measures for the door between your garage and house as you would for an exterior door. Also, lock your car while it is in your garage and do not leave house keys in your car or elsewhere in the garage.
- You can purchase either double-cylinder or single-cylinder locks. A double-cylinder lock requires a key to open from either side, whereas a single-cylinder lock only requires a key on one side. Double-cylinder locks thus provide more protection for your home, especially if you have nearby windows that a criminal could reach through to unlock the door from the inside. Check your fire code before installing double cylinder locks, as this may be a violation.
- When securing strike plates, angle the screws back slightly to catch the frame.
- You can purchase grated metal security doors that go outside your door for another layer of protection.
- Examine your neighbourhood and keep in mind that professional thieves will choose the easiest targets first. Try to always make your property a little less attractive to thieves than the neighbouring properties.
- Do not make your home a fortress. Firemen use manual tools to gain entry for EMS calls and/or fire emergencies. While they are good at what they do, they have, on occasion had to find an immediate alternative such as a front window.
- Do not leave keys "hidden" under doormats, in plants, or in other such places. No matter how well hidden, there's a good chance a burglar might find your key. Keep your keys on you. If you must leave a key outside, put it in a quality lock-box that is properly installed and out of sight.
- The majority of "simple" burglaries, break-grab-go, are reported as a daylight crime. For evening and night protection, the above door guides are great. Outdoor lights such as a porch light are strongly recommended.
- A simple additional security measure that can be used when you are home is to put an empty glass bottle or can filled half-way with change upside down on your doorknob. This will fall (and make a loud noise, except on carpet) should someone turn the doorknob. (Caution-the bottle can break leaving glass fragments around the door).
- Adding a storm door that locks makes it harder for thieves to kick in the door since they have to kick through two doors. The storm door also gets in the way of the best to place the kick on the door. There are also doors that look like gates which are called security doors. These doors should also have dead bolts. Many people don't like the look of these doors. They also make laminated glass storm doors, which has tempered glass like your front windshield, meaning if it breaks it stays in place.
- If you are replacing your door, consider getting one with Bandit Latch. It adds a great deal of security.
- In addition to or instead of a heavy duty strike plate, a 4" piece of 3/4" galvanized pipe set into the door frame for the dead bolt to extend into will make it a lot harder to bash the door in.
- Always check chain locks from the inside. The last thing you want is for thieves to push the lock back. Make sure you have your chain lock on the right side of the door this might make thieves struggle and also take them more time and effort to open them.
- Make sure that the strike plate for your doorknob lock has a metal lip on the outside to prevent jimmying. You can also purchase specialjimmy guards.
Turner lock-Polished BrassLocks, no matter how good they are, are worth nothing if they're not locked. Many folks forget (or are too lazy) to lock the dead-bolt when leaving. If that's you, consider the installation of a "Turner lock" -- this is a dead-bolt lock which can be locked from the outside without a key.
- Don't become obsessed with security. Naturally, you want to take all reasonable measures to protect yourself, your family, and your belongings, but don't turn your house into a prison. No matter what precautions you take, you could still become the victim of a crime at some point, and you've got a life to live - don't let fear prevent you from enjoying your life.
- Even the most solid lock system is worthless if the frame around the door is weak. Make sure the door frame is as strong and secure as the lock.
- If you're not used to locking your doors and you have a door that you can lock without a key, take care to remember your keys whenever you leave the house. You may lock yourself out once or twice despite your best efforts, but you'll soon get into the routine. Leave a copy of your key with a neighbor, or discuss hiding it somewhere on their property, rather than leaving an obvious hide-a-key device with your key next to the door.
- Double-cylinder locks, while more secure, can present a danger in the event of a fire since you must find and use a key to open them, even from the inside. In some jurisdictions, building codes prohibit their use in residences. Consider the risk these locks present before installing them.
- Lock picking is easy if you know how to do it correctly, even on a dead bolt. Also a bump-key proof lock is something you should look into. Medeco locks, although expensive, provide the best protection from picking.
Things You'll Need
Solid wood, or metal doors
Grade 1 or 2 deadbolt locks
Heavy-duty strike plates
Screws and carriage bolts
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