Choose wisely

February 26, 2013 -

It only makes sense after several years of exposure to the elements your exterior door locks may look a little weathered.

by Frank Fourchalk

I often get calls from folks who want me to install new door locks they purchased as replacements for their existing oxidized hardware. Eight times out of 10, I send the homeowner back to the store to select a better brand of lock before I start the installation process.

The danger lies in the fact homeowners get caught up in the monetary value of a lock, instead of its practicality. It looks good, but will it keep the bad guys out? Unfortunately, inexperienced homeowners are unaware they’re downgrading their home’s security by purchasing and installing cheap, poor quality locks.

The blame often lies in the packaging itself. Often low quality, inexpensive locks are displayed in appealing packages designed to hook homeowners on the first bite.

But be forewarned, packaging alone won’t keep the bad guys out. If you look a little closer, you might find these offshore locks do little more than look good when installed on the door.

So if you’re thinking about replacing your locks, make sure you stick to brand name products like Schlage or Weiser who offer good warranties.

When a poor-quality lock is installed, there are several problems you may run into down the road that will ultimately cost you money.

For example, cheap locks are vulnerable to forced entries, offering little protection for the homeowner. And believe me, burglars are well aware of the vulnerability of inexpensive, low-quality locks.

Crooks are not scared off by cheap locks and often choose the path of least resistance.

Their preferred method of entry is kicking or shouldering the door open or prying the lock off the door. And when it comes to lock picking, they usually offer little resistance to even the most novice thief.

Cheap locks are notorious for jamming and malfunctioning with continual use. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where the only lock leading into your home has decided to quit working.

This could end up costing you money in locksmith call out fees and a new lock. Often locksmiths who attend lockouts because of poor quality hardware will recommend replacing the inexpensive lock with a better quality one.

So how do you determine a good quality lock? Before purchasing your new lock, take the deadbolt out of the package and feel the weight. You can get a good idea of the quality and strength by the weight. Generally speaking, the heavier and more expensive the lock, the better quality it is.

Some other things to look for are a solid brass body, free-spin collar, pick-resistant cylinder, saw-resistant bolt and steel shrouds that cover the bolt’s extension. The free spin collar will prevent a burglar from twisting the lock off the door. The pick-resistant cylinder will help make the lock virtually pick resistant.

The saw resistant bolt will halt a break-in by preventing a burglar from sawing the bolt in half to gain entry. And finally the steel shrouds protect the bolt’s extension mechanism inside the door from being accessed from the outside of the door by a technique called ice picking.

Often when homeowners think about replacing their door hardware, they have a tough time selecting the colour of hardware best suited for the colour of their door.

If that sounds familiar, Schlage Lock has made this selection process much easier with a feature on their website ( ) called “style selector.” This will allow you to pick the colour of your door as well as the style and colour of your hardware. Once selected, you can see exactly what it will look like when placed on the doors of your home.

– Frank Fourchalk is a security expert with 20 years in the business. Visit his website at

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