Whether you are an urban prepper or are perfecting a homestead, upgrading the locks on your home and making sure they are installed properly is one of the most overlooked, least expensive, and most effective ways to harden your security.
I believe the best way to keep the bad guys from getting your stuff is to keep them out in the first place. This is the job of a good commercial quality lock and NOT your average home alarm system. Alarm systems only let you know when someone got in – they will not keep them out. (Unless you are talking about perimeter defense systems-which I am not.)
Not all locks are created equal. The lock on your doorknob or leverset is not strong enough to withstand breaking and entering. Neither are the small screws holding the hinges to the door frame.
You need an ANSI Grade 1 deadbolt on every exterior door, the door from your attached garage leading into your home, and on every door leading to your stores. Period.
- ANSI Grade 1: Highest Rating for Commercial and Residential Locks
- ANSI Grade 2: Highest Rating for Residential Only Locks
- ANSI Grade 3: Lowest rating and only meets minimum grading requirements
Unfortunately, most common residential locks are only ANSI Grade 3 and can be quickly and easily defeated by intruders. The ANSI grade can be found on the package of higher quality locks. I recommend and install Schlage ANSI Grade 1 Deadbolt Locks.
You will also need to install a Door Reinforcer and a Strike Plate. The door Reinforcer is a piece of steel that wraps around your door at the deadbolt location. This prevents breaking and splitting of the door.
The strike plate is critical piece of hardware installed on the doorjamb. Without a properly installed quality strike plate, your door can be kicked in – even with an ANSI 1 deadbolt. The bolt can be kicked through the wooden doorjamb and trim.
Pro Tip: Use a Lock Installation Jig for doors with no existing deadbolt.
Once you have installed your new deadbolts it is now time to install the strike plate. The strike plate should also be ANSI Grade 1. The Schlage deadbolt comes with the strike plate and 3” screws.
The strike plate must be secured into the doorjamb with at least 3” long screws. The screws should go through the doorjamb and into the structural studs in the wall. The screws must be strong enough to withstand kicking and battering. DO NOT USE black drywall type screws – they will snap in half!
Pro Tip: Use a drill to bore a pilot hole in the wood to prevent the jamb and studs from splitting.
It is imperative that you reinforce the hinge side of your doors with long screws just as you did with the strike plate. On the door side of the hinges, remove and replace one screw at a time. Use a pilot bit to prevent the jamb and studs from splitting and install the long screws. Again, the screws must be long enough to go through the jamb and into the structural studs. You will be alarmed to find the screws you just removed are only 1 ½” long. These tiny screws are holding your door in place and will be torn out of the jamb with only one or two good kicks.
Pro Tip: Use the proper sized Philips screw tip when installing the longer screws. A bit that is too small will bounce out of the slots and strip out the screw head before you get the screw seated and will be nearly impossible to remove.
Check out “how to videos” on YouTube like this one on how to secure and reinforce a door.
For around $100 per door you have hardened the security of your home and purchased real piece of mind. No lock is completely burglar proof. But, by hardening your doors, you are making it harder to break and enter, the would-be intruder needs to make more noise and spend more time to break in to your home – two things he doesn’t want to do.
Tommy is a licensed security and fire safety professional with 20 years experience designing, installing, and maintaining life safety and security systems. He is licensed in multiple states and has obtained the highest certification level from NICET. Tommy is passionate about teaching others about how to be safe and secure at work and at home. He specializes in perimeter protection, video surveillance, intrusion detection and fire protection technologies.
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