Do you know what kind of lock you have on your door? Is there a better one? The most important reason, if not the only reason, for having a lock is to prevent people getting into your home without your permission! You need a good lock to protect your family and your possessions. If, despite your best efforts, your home is broken into, you will need to satisfy the insurance company that you took all the precautions you could!
Here is an outline of how to tell what you’ve got, and how to know if it’s enough
British Standard Locks
These are locks made to British Standard 3621. Most insurance companies will insist on a lock that conforms to this standard, and may not pay out in cases where a burglary occurs and the locks were not BS 3621.
Where to buy Locks
A qualified locksmith is probably the safest place to buy locks and bolts. They will give you advice on what is best for your personal needs, and also provide assurance that your locks conform to any insurance standards. Large hardware shops carry a wide range of locks, and if you know what you are looking for, can often save you money.
Types of Locks
There are two basic types of lock – a mortice lock which fits into the door, and a rim lock which fits onto the door.
Mortice Locks – A mortice lock is one that requires a pocket or mortice to be cut into the door where the lock is to be fitted. A mortice lock is extremely secure. Mortice locks are usually either deadlocks (a single rectangular bolt), or sash locks (a second spring loaded bolt). A sash lock is often used with an ordinary door handle to keep the door shut even when it is not locked. The best mortice locks should have at least 5 levers or, for a cylinder lock, 6 pins.
Nightlatch or Rim Locks – A rim lock fits on the face of the door. Most rim locks are either cylinder locks or night latches. Although possibly less secure than a mortice lock, a rim lock is far easier and more convenient to install, making it the most widely used front door lock. Most modern cylinder rim locks can be deadlocked, to stop the bolt from being pushed back by inserting a credit card etc. into the door edge.
There is all sorts of jargon relating to locks that can confuse and bewilder. Here is a brief list of the terms and their meanings:
Backset -The measurement used on a night latch or mortice lock.
Bathroom Lock – A mortice lock with a thumb turn handle to enable the door to be locked from the inside.
Deadbolt – Found in the centre of a multi-point lock to improve security. Usually rectangular but sometimes hook shaped.
Deadlock – A mortice deadlock has a bolt which is operated by key rather than a latch. Some nightlatches have extra security by turning the key twice to engage the deadlock function.
Door Chain or Limiter – A chain that limits the opening of the door.
Dummy Mullion – A bar fixed onto the side of patio door to secure the door in a locking position.
Espagnolette – A type of multi-locking point usually used for patio and sliding doors.
Faceplate – The plate of a mortice lock that is visible in the side of a door.
Follower – Sometimes called a rower it is the square hole in the backset of a mortice lock that the spindle passes through in order to operate the handle.
Door Keep – Sometimes called a receiver or striker, a door keep is the small metal plate that fits onto the door frame to receive the bolt or latch of a door in order to lock it.
Levers – Levers are often used in mortice locks and padlocks. The more levers a lock contains, the higher the level of security it offers.
Locking Point – The point where the multi-point lock enters the outer frame of the door, using either a hook or a rectangular shaped bar.
Master Key – A single key that operates a variety of locks that all have their own different keys.
Nightlatch – A type of rim lock mounted onto the surface of a door, a nightlatch has a latch that can usually be deadlocked into position.
Snib – A button on a nightlatch that holds the latch down, so that the door won’t lock if accidentally slammed shut.
Spindle – A square metal bar that passes through the door and connects the door handles on either side. When the door handles are turned the spindle is rotated, moving the latch and allowing the door to open.
Thumbturn Cylinder – A knob fitted to one end of a cylinder allowing the door to be locked or unlocked without using a key.
Hopefully this makes your door locks slightly easier to understand, and helps you know what the experts mean when they talk about locks