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Securing your home

Find out how to satisfy insurers and protect your home with these tips on home security from locksmith Paul Byrne at Alexandra Locksmiths.

In this article

With all the different locks and locking mechanisms available on the market, what do you need to secure your home and satisfy your insurers? Paul Byrne from Alexandra Locksmiths Ltd talked us through some of the different options.

Wooden front doors

A rim latch (often referred to as a Yale lock) alone will not secure a front door. A five-lever mortice deadlock, to British Standard 3621, should also be fitted. Look for the Kitemark on the face plate, which is cut into the door.

Though a rim latch and mortice lock are usually enough for insurers, you should consider fitting three locks. With a rim latch in the middle and deadlocks with the same key at the top and bottom, any force against the door is better distributed. It also acts a visual deterrent.

Hinge bolts, which lock into a strike plate on the frame when the door is closed, are also recommended.

For extra security, consider a London bar to support the strike plate and a Birmingham bar to support the frame on the hinge side. You could also fit a lock guard or reinforcer and a letterbox cowl.

Check our guide to securing your home when you go on holiday or read on for more tips from our Which? Trusted Trader locksmith,  plus our glossary with more details about each of the locks and security devices.

uPVC doors

A multi-point locking system, which meets insurance standards, is fitted to uPVC doors at the point of manufacture. Note that if you’re moving into a property with uPVC doors, an insurer may require you to change the cylinder lock.

It is not usually possible, or necessary, to retro-fit additional locks to a uPVC door. Instead, to avoid ‘lock-snapping’, a method which exploits a vulnerability of the Euro-Profile cylinder locks on most uPVC doors, you could upgrade to an ‘anti-snap’ (also called ‘break secure’) cylinder.

'Anti-snap' or 'break secure' Euro-Profile cylinders

Many manufacturers make and market anti-snap cylinders but not all of them are effective.

Ask your locksmith for cylinders that have Sold Secure SS 312 Diamond level or TS 007 3 star rated standard certification - these offer the highest level of security and have been independently tested.

Sliding patio doors

Patio doors normally have a multi-point locking system built in, though most insurers will be content with a locking bolt at the top and bottom. Doors which can be lifted off their track may benefit from a device to prevent this.

French doors

Mortice rack bolts or surface-mounted locking bolts should be fitted to the top and bottom of French doors, in addition to a five lever (British Standard 3621) lock in the middle. Hinge bolts, regardless of whether the doors open inwards or outwards, are also recommended.

Glossary of locksmithing terminology

  • Birmingham bar: A straight, metal bar fitted to a door frame, on the hinge side, to protect against attack
  • Deadlock: A lock which contains a deadbolt – a type of bolt which is not sprung and cannot be pushed back. The only way to disengage a deadbolt is with a key or thumb turn.
  • Hinge bolt: Fixed protrusions on the hinge side of a door which engage with a plate cut into the door frame.
  • Letterbox cowl: A protective letterbox cover, attached to the inside of a door, which prevents interference or access to door locks.
  • Lever: The movable part in a lock. The levers are moved by the key to operate the lock. The five lever lock is often an insurance requirement.
  • London bar: Where a rim lock (which isn’t set into the door and frame) is fitted, a London bar reinforces the frame and supports the strike box. It’s a metal strip with a D-shaped section to fit over the strike box.
  • Lock guard or reinforcer: Where a mortice lock has been cut into a door, a metal plate can be fitted to reinforce the lock area.
  • Mortice lock: A mortice lock is one which requires the mechanism to be cut into the door, window or piece of furniture which is being fitted with a lock.
  • Rim lock: A lock or latch which is fitted to the face of the door, rather than being cut into the door itself. Often referred to as a ‘Yale lock’.
  • Sash lock: In relation to doors, this is a lock which combines a key-operated deadbolt and a handle-operated latch. Usually found on back doors for convenience.

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