Door locks are your first line of defense in keeping unwanted intruders out of your home. Most burglaries involve entry through front or back doors, and it is critical to always know who has keys to your home. That is why it is recommended that you change your door locks when you move into a new home. However, there locks come in a wide range of price and quality, so finding the right balance between the two can be difficult. It’s important to understand what goes into making high-security locks.
Many residential locks use ordinary steel, which can be easily drilled. High-security locks use hardened steel or brass. Some reinforce the cylinders with steel plates. These features don’t make the lock drill-proof, but they make it a much longer process. Believe it or not, there are locks that have plastic components, and you want to avoid those. In a quality lock, you want a strong metal, and plenty of it. A high-security lock should have some weight to it!
There are different lock designs, and some offer more security than others, even among well-made brands. There are doorknob locks, horizontal deadbolts, and vertical deadbolts. Doorknob locks are spring-operated and very easy to breach; therefore, they are not suitable for exterior doors.
Most standard locks are horizontal deadbolts. This means that the “throw,” or bolt that moves back and forth into the door frame slides horizontally. This design works well, and you will find this type of lock on most residential doors. However, it is still possible to defeat the lock by prying the horizontal throw free of the door frame. That’s why it is important to have a lock with a longer throw that penetrates deeper into the frame, making it harder to pry it free.
For a design that cannot easily be pried, consider a vertical deadbolt, also known as a jimmy-proof lock. In this type of lock, the throw mechanism is completely on the inside of the house. It does not extend from the inside of the door into the door frame. It moves up and down through a series of metal loops that cannot be reached by prying.
Most standard locks use an ordinary set of 5 tumbler pins. The key has one job to do – move the pins the right amount to release the cylinder plug. With the right lock picks or a bump key, these locks are susceptible to picking and lock bumping.
Some High-security locks may have additional pins, and they may use security pins which are shaped in a way that make them much harder to move with a pick.
Other high-security locks use secondary mechanisms in addition to the tumbler pins that require the key to do two things at once. This makes it harder to pick the lock, since it is difficult to get the lock pick to do both required functions simultaneously. Still other locks use very small or curved keyways so picks won’t go in far enough to open the lock and bumping would require a very specific bump key.
When it comes to locks, price matters. The materials and workmanship that go into making a better lock add to the price. So, while you don’t necessarily need the most expensive lock, with extra bells and whistles, you don’t want the cheapest lock, either. Go to the higher end of your budget when selecting exterior locks for your home. Remember what you’re trying to protect! While no residential lock can guarantee that it will prevent someone from entering your home, a high-security lock can make the difference between whether or not someone is successful breaking into your home.