questionsi could use some help re: home security


I am confused not only by the question you want answered but by these two phrases in your statement. They seem contradictory.

"I just got in from work today to find my front door wide open."
"Today, though, it took an exorbitant amount of effort to unlock the door."

Please clarify. :-)


I can't address the other concerns, but I wonder if your key is worn out. They can get that way. Are others in your home having the same trouble? If not, try a copy, made from a well fitting key, not the suspect one.


If it is your key, I would suggest replacing it as soon as possible. Check to see if it looks bent or morphed in any way, as this happens over time. My car key broke off inside of my door once, and you do not want this to happen to your key or you'll need to replace your key and door knob! It seems, however, that maybe your door knob needs to be replaced anyway. Good luck!


@nmchapma: Haha whoops. I tried the key after walking in and checking the house. I actually suspected it might be the way whoever opened the door got in, so I wanted to see if the key still worked.

@dows @pickypickypicky: I don't think the key itself is the problem, though I'll take a close look. My roommate's noticed the same issues with his key as well.


Doorknobs and locks are cheap, especially when you factor in the "peace of mind" aspect of the locks. Buy a new one. They're actually super easy to install.


Do you own the house? Do you have a dog? The security measures renter can implement are different than those that a homeowner can implement.

Are you sure you closed and locked the door when you left? Years ago I left at noon for a weekend camping event 100 miles away and my ex joined us in the evening after work. He said I'd left the front door to the house standing wide open when I left for the weekend, he got home from work hours later and found the door open. If you are a woman, especially living alone, the fact that nothing is missing may be of greater concern than if you were burglarized. If you think you may have a stalker or if there is a sexual predator working your area you need to be extremely cautious. Replace any locks which may have been compromised by the intruder. Check all your window locks and any other method of entering the home.


Replace the door knob completely. Just get a new one from Ace Hardware. I'd recommend adding a deadbolt. If you are going all out, get a deadbolt with a keypad.


@moondrake: True enough. Unfortunately these creepers don't often self-identify so it's hard to spot them or even know if they're around. One of my high school teachers (and he was a fantastic teacher and all the kids liked and respected him) who later became the principal turned out to be a B&E guy who would steal ladies' undies, usually from women he knew from work. He was doing it for years before he got caught. Creeper!


@zuiquan: If you file a police report on a break-in and there is a sexual predator working the area the police will tell you. There are also often alerts on the news. There's a home invader working my neighborhood right now, there was an alert on the news with a full description and neighbors are reminding one another to be cautious. I am being extra careful with locks and when I go out at night for canine potty breaks, although an attacker would have to be very bold or very well armed to attack me when my dog is with me.


@moondrake: I agree but the thing is, the police often don't even know when there's someone creeping. None of the women knew this guy was doing this or it was even going on until one of them walked in on him in the middle of a "raid" one day. Prior to that nobody had even filed a police report missing anything. Home invasions and other violent crimes are different of course, and they're going to be noticed and reported. I hope they catch the scum in your neighborhood and I hope you stay safe.


@zuiquan: I agree. That's why it's important to report break-ins, so the police can observe patterns. Sometimes these "panty-raiders" escalate to violent crimes. Thanks for the well-wishes. My house was robbed three Christmases in a row about 20 years ago and I upgraded my security quite a lot, so I should be reasonably okay. But I live in a quiet family neighborhood in the safest large city in the US, so it's unsettling to have to think twice about going out at 4am to let the dog answer nature's call.


Two thoughts:
The locks clearly need to be repaired. You house may not have been broken into: the door may just not have shut properly. When I bought this property the locks were all sticky and nasty. I had every single lock replaced, and the deadbolts with double sided keyed (all the doors are have glass).

Second: I agree with dexityspace. Any intruder will have to deal with the three of us: me, Smith, and Wesson.


I am going to be a bit optimistic.
Are you sure the door was closed? If the door latch was not in the hole (completely closed and it was a windy day the door could have blown open, especially with open windows.

The key hole may need some lube, the recommended lube is graphite.

Now less optimistic;
Yes it is easy to replace a door knob, giving you a sound piece of mind. You should have a deadbolt, I have not installed on as it requires drilling.

May I suggest a low cost security system if you do not see the kit on sale that will fit your needs wait. The idea is the system will call some numbers with a prerecorded message, you can not have it call the police.


@devexityspace: how's that gonna help if it happens while they're not home?


@bsmith1: I am more concerned with coming home to an open door than possessions-- and all of the comments made so far have been wise and I had nothing else to add.. such as new doorknob & deadbolt.

Of course there is always ADT but that is expensive..


sad fact - MOST door locks are easily defeatable. a ten dollar pick kit from companies that post here on deals, and some time spent on youtube will have any mischievous teen ready to pick locks with relative ease. Among the DIY home improvement store selections, you want to look for the locks with side-dimple drilled keys. Those are much harder to pick than a cascade tumbler.

For your issue - it's possible the same thing that's making your key harder to use in the doorknob is also responsible for the latch not extruding enough to catch the strike plate on the door frame. You think it's locked, but the first decent breeze that comes along sweeps open the door. If you have a separate lock (dead bolt or similar) that's separate from the knob, and you're positive you locked it, or both... then sure, its possible someone picked it. The act of picking a lock often bends the pins in the cylinder, making the use of the legitimate key more difficult, or even impossible.


forgot to add: a dog and some training work wonders :)


It may sound cheesy, but grab some ADT signs from eBay. Those with security system warning signs are considerably less likely to have break-ins. Replace the door knob. And pick up an inexpensive wireless DIY security system with an alarm siren. A couple of hundred bucks can get you a system with a few door/window sensors and a motion detector or two, and wireless means that you're not installing anything in the walls.


I added a steel kick-bar to my doors, fits under the doorknob and braces to the floor. Of course, there will be one door unsecured by the kick bar when I am out, but the deadbolt is on that one.


What most people don't know is that your locks require maintenance and lubrication. Recommend you lube your lock using graphite lubricant which is a dry lube and works very well in these types of applications. Just squeeze a bit into the lock opening and then operate your key a few times (in/out, turn key clockwise/counterclockwise). Do not recommend "wet" lubes because they can gum everything up internal to the lock.

If you are interested in a home security system, I recommend simplisafe. They are cheap, no contract, and you install the package you build yourself. Everything works on batteries which last 1-2 years each, and monitoring costs us only 20 bucks a month. Much simpler and cheaper than ADT or other systems. YMMV


@eneref: Or if you want to avoid trouble with ADT, make up a cool security company and get a couple of signs printed.


@zuiquan: Just FYI, they caught the guy this weekend. So everyone in my neighborhood is resting better.