You're excited to be moving from an apartment to a previously owned home. Once you get moved in, you'll be eager to make those little adjustments that will make the house feel like your own home. You should also be concerned with how well the house protects you and your family from a break-in. Here are a few ways to ensure the safety of your family and possessions in your new home.

Change Locks or Rekey?

At a minimum, you should have a locksmith come to the house and do lock rekeying of all of the exterior door locks. The previous owners may have given keys to various friends and family members. You don't know to how many people the realtor gave access to the house. This will give you some confidence that a stranger can't just walk in using a key that they have kept. But this is also a good time to evaluate the effectiveness of the locks on the exterior doors. A walk-through with the locksmith is a good idea to determine how well you are protected.

Deadbolts on Exterior Doors are a Must

Every door that gives people access to the house from outside needs to have a deadbolt installed. This includes garage doors and walk-in basement doors, if they allow access into the rest of the house. Three common deadbolt styles are available:

  • Single cylinder - This lock installs inside of the door with a steel bolt that extends out through the side of the door into the door frame to prevent the door from opening.
  • Externally mounted - This lock mounts on the surface of the door inside of the house. The steel bolt moves into a portion of the lock that is mounted on the door frame.
  • Vertical deadbolt - This is an externally mounted deadbolt where the bolt slips into an enclosed portion of the lock on the door frame. This protects the bolt from being accessed by a burglar to try to saw through it.

Evaluating Existing Deadbolts

The locksmith will also tell you how well an existing deadbolt is doing its job. Some of the features to look for include:

  • The steel bolt must extend at least one inch into the door frame to give you adequate protection. Any less and a thief may be able to pry the door away from the frame enough to clear the bolt from the frame and open the door.
  • When the door frame is made of weaker wood, the striker plate should include a reinforced steel box in which the bolt travels to protect the bolt from being forced through the wood frame.
  • All of the deadbolt components should be installed using extra long hardened steel screws to prevent them from being pried out of the wood.

Contact a locksmith like Carlsbad Village Lock & Key for more information.