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How to Choose Home Locks

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The locks that protect the doors of your home are a major line of defense against burglars. In fact, crime statistics show that nearly 40 percent of all burglars gain access to homes through the front door. There are a number of choices available for locks to provide security. Here are some of the choices:

  • Cylinder lock. These can be single or double cylinder locks. The difference is that a cylinder lock has a key only to gain entrance, while a double cylinder system requires keys on both sides of the door. Some homeowners prefer double cylinder locks to stop burglars from reaching in from a broken window to open a door. However, removal of the inside key for security is a concern for many in the event of an emergency and the need for a quick exit.
  • Mortise lock. A type of lock still generally seen in older buildings where the entire device fits into a pocket, called a mortise, that is actually carved out from the edge of the door. So the deadbolt extends out from the frame of the door into the frame of the wall. A very secure type of lock.
  • Keyless locks. This includes any of the digital lock technology that includes pushbutton locks, in which a combination is entered directly on a pad on the door handle. There also are remote entry locks that are controlled by base unit that sends a signal to a sensor install on the door. A third option is a biometric lock, which only opens if an accepted fingerprint is registered on a pad on the door handle.

Safety Concerns for Home Locks

While the style of opening the door can vary, even most digital locks depend on a deadbolt system. There are options to consider that can significantly improve the security that a deadbolt offers with any kind of lock system. One of those options involves the type of door involved. Experts recommend a solid wood or metal door to make it more difficult for a burglar to kick in the door. Other choices involve the materials used for the lock system itself.

  • Stronger strike plate. This is the piece that attaches to the doorframe that is often no more than cosmetic with some lock systems. Look for strike plates in heavy gauge metal that come with screws 2 to 3 inches long so the strike plate connects to the wall frame and not just the frame of the door.
  • Deadbolt throw. The "throw" is how far the deadbolt extends from the door edge. The longer the throw, the more protection offered. Experts recommend at least a 1-inch throw.
  • Beveled steel casing. The outside of the lock needs to be strong enough to resist blows from a hammer or other tool that a burglar might use to quickly enter a home. Hardened steel provides significant strength while beveled steel resists the grasp of a wrench or pliers in an effort to twist the lock off the door with a wrench or pliers.
  • Deadbolts with anti-saw pins. Another common way for a burglar to defeat a deadbolt is to simply saw it off. Anti-saw pins inside the deadbolt have the freedom to spin. When a saw makes contact, the back and forth motion only causes the pins to spin.

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