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Different lock types for homes

6th January 2018

Well hello there and a very Happy New Year to you. I don’t want to get all Mystic Meg on you but I’m sure that 2018 will be the year that a lot of things happen and some things don’t happen, whilst other things might happen. And remember, you heard it here first. 

Everyone’s heads can be in a bit of a muddle at this time of year what with the over-indulgence throughout Christmas, the not knowing which year to put on your cheques (if indeed anyone even writes cheques any more), and the knowledge that Donald Trump is inexplicably coming up to the first anniversary of his presidency. 

I thought I’d do my bit for the de-cluttering of your head by penning a quick reminder of the various types of locks you can get for your front door. I know, right -  it’s the New Year’s gift you never knew you wanted, but whereas the intricacies of gym memberships or the bank holiday affected bin calendar may be befuddling you, at least you’ll never be caught out by not knowing the difference between a nightlatch or a deadlock. 

For most of the 20th century, your front door lock choice was fairly straightforward. You would either have a nightlatch of the sort made by Yale or a deadlock of the Chubb variety. These worked a treat with doors made out of timber – a material that most doors of the time were constructed of. 

You will still find these two locks on many doors, but in recent times UPVC doors have become ever more ubiquitous, and these are more often than not fitted with a multipoint lock, constructed from bolts, hooks and rollers. Despite the “multipoint” name, a single key is still used, but a turn of this key activates locking mechanisms at several points in the door. This makes the door far more secure as it can’t as easily be jemmied open as it could with just a single point of bolting. 

So what should you be looking out for when choosing a new lock? Well, this very much depends on which type of door you have – we can handily divide this into two sections.

Timber doors

If you still have a timber door, the golden rule is that the lock should be up to date and British Standard. Look out for the all-important kitemark on the body of the lock – many home insurers will insist on locks displaying this and it may invalidate the insurance to use ones that don’t have it. If you have a nightlatch it needs to be able to be deadlocked. In basic terms, this means that the internal handle can be locked. In the old-style locks without this facility, a burglar could just break a bit of glass in or next to the door, reach around, and let themselves in. The deadlock facility gives that extra insurance against this. Ideally for a timber door, I would recommend British Standard mortice locks, preferably of the five-lever variety. These may be more expensive, but there is a reason for that – they are incredibly tough to breach, and they have impressive durability. 

UPVC doors

As I mentioned, most UPVC (or the even newer “composite” style) doors come with multipoint lock mechanisms which are a great step forward. A general rule of thumb is the more locking points in the door, the more secure it is against intruders. 

However, the strength of the system was then counterbalanced by the weakness of the lock cylinder itself. For UPVC doors you had to be especially aware of lock snapping. This became a widespread phenomenon by which burglars would literally snap off the lock cylinder in a matter of seconds and gain immediate access to the property. Check out Youtube videos to see just how quick and easy this was. 

Fortunately, the lock manufacturers soon caught up and brought out “anti-snap” locks which should now be fitted as regulation. The strength of these locks is measured by a star system – the very best locks are three-star cylinders. These should replace any old style snappable locks to give you piece of mind. An alternative is to combine a one-star cylinder with a two-star security handle. One plus two equals three (I didn’t do Maths for nothing!) so this too would count as an overall three-star rating. Whichever route you choose, if you still have the old style snappable locks, I urge you to change them as soon as possible – they’re as good as worthless against a burglar with the right equipment. 

And there’s a whistle-stop tour of the main locks available for your front doors. It probably won’t be the most exciting thing you’ll read in 2018 (God help you if it is!), but it could be one of the most important, especially if you haven’t upgraded the cylinder locks on your UPVC doors to anti-snap modesl. Make it your New Years resolution to get them changed as soon as possible. 

Once again, a very Happy New year to you, and if you have queries or concerns about anything lock-related or to enquire about repairs or replacements, call 01226 399067


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