Date posted: 27th September 2017
Home security - Windows & Doors
Home security is clearly a priority for all of us but it appears, we don’t always help ourselves when it comes to keeping intruders out and our home and valuables safe. New figures from National Home Security Month show that we often adopt a somewhat cavalier approach to the security of our property – and frequently pay the price.
This is all too apparent in new figures released by National Home Security Month (NHSM). Running throughout October. This shows that in more than 70% of burglaries intruders gain access through a door. What’s even more worrying is that 16% of us, don’t lock our doors or windows when leaving the house!
Sponsored by Yale, National Home Security Month aims to raise awareness of the things that we can all do as homeowners to improve the security of our properties from installing cameras and security lighting to replacing locks and windows.
And burglary is on the increase here in Hampshire. The number of Hampshire households broken into at the close of March this year compared to the previous year, show a 14% hike. That’s a jump from 10,900 in 2015/16 to 12,437 offences.*
This, according to figures from NHSM, suggests that the average value of items stolen is around £2,300, while repair bills run anywhere from £700 to £3,000. The worst time of the day for burglaries is from 6pm to 6am, while there’s a 25% spike in home burglaries during the autumn and going into winter.
Windows and doors play a critical part in home security and the window industry has collectively invested millions in a never ending battle to outwit burglars.
Are my windows and doors secure?
If someone is determined enough to get their hands on your kids gaming console or the laptop left on display on your kitchen table in front of your bi-fold doors, you’re probably not going to stop them. But can make it much less appealing and much harder to do by making sure your doors and windows feature the latest security innovations including multi-point locking and most importantly are locked when you leave your home!
So what are the seven ‘deadly sins’ of window and door security?
- Are your windows or doors in a good state of repair?
This is the starting point. Poorly maintained windows and doors are obvious week points in the security of your home. If locks don’t work, if wooden windows are rotten or warped, they’re by definition, more vulnerable and more tempting to burglars.
- Are your PVC-U windows externally glazed?
This should set alarm bells ringing. When PVC-U windows first came out they were often externally glazed. It made installation and glass replacement easier, mainly because it means the double-glazed unit was easier to take out. The trouble is, it’s just as easy for burglars to do the same. So there is a possibility that if you have old externally glazed PVC-U windows, your home isn’t secure – even if they do have locks! Editors note - Some externally glazed windows could have either bonding or security clips to make glass removal more difficult.
- Do your windows have multi-point locking?
New PVC-U windows feature multi-point locking systems. These use multiple mushroom headed shoot-bolts to anchor the opening sash to the window frame, making them almost impossible to force. If you don’t have these type of locks, or have cockspur handles, your home is going to be vulnerable.
- Are your patio doors more than 20 years old?
The great thing about aluminium and PVC-U windows and doors unlike timber is that they still look great after years of service with only minimal maintenance. The downside is that this can lead you into a false sense of security about their performance. Older patio doors a prime example. They were manufactured with an inherent weakness – the sliding sashes in many cases can be lifted out of the frame from the outside! If you have them, replace them now.
- Do you have older PVC-U or timber doors?
We promise, we’re not just ‘knocking’ older products but so many of them seem to have featured underlying weaknesses. All that stands between a burglar and entry to your home in a timber door is often a good kick because without multi-point locking, the force of the impact goes into just one or two points in the frame. Older PVC-U panel doors may use multi-point locking but they also have an inherent vulnerability. Give the main panel a good kick and you can be through it in seconds!
- Do you have a Euro cylinder lock on your entrance doors?
Euro cylinders serve as an illustration of how product technology moves on. They were heralded as a security innovation when they first hit the streets but very soon a number of failings appeared. This includes snapping’. The lock can be grabbed where it protrudes from the handle with mole grips or a similar tool and then hit with hammer to snap the lock in two.
Eurocylinders are such a security risk that we have actually listed the twice! This time the method is altogether more sinister. Burglars can break into your house leaving no sign of damage using a widely available skeleton key, originally designed for locksmiths. This allows them to gently knock the pins that hold the locking mechanism in the locked position out of place, allowing them to freely open the door. And because it leaves no obvious signs of forced entry, there have even been cases where insurance companies won’t pay up!
If you bought a door from us in the last few months, you can breathe a sigh of relief - we haven’t used the Euro Cylinder for last few months for exactly this reason. And if your door was bought from us before then, there is no need to panic. It remains secure to all but the most determined criminals.
How do high security windows and doors work?
As we’ve seen, it’s a constant battle to keep intruders out but new windows and doors feature some pretty-smart tricks to do so. Given what we’ve said about bumping and the Euro Cylinder, we’ll take that first.
High Security Doors – the low down
High security doors also employ a number of other innovations to keep burglars at bay. This includes multi-point locking, high performance anti-drill, anti-pick and anti-bump door cylinders and the local thickening of frames to provide an extra-strong fix for hinges and locks.
Given what we have said about the Euro Cylinder specifically for lock cylinders with either the Sold Secure Approved (SS312) Diamond Standard cylinder or the TS007 3-Star cylinder, which is accredited by BSI (Kitemark).
These are designed to address all of the weaknesses in the old Euro Cylinder doors - and more! We also supply all of our composite or PVC-U entrance doors as Secured by Design as standard. This means that they have been independently tested and met strict criteria set out in the police approved Secured by Design Scheme
These doors also use multi-point locking which fix the door sash (the opening part) to the frame at multiple points using hook-bolts. This is a major advantage over the traditional mortice-type lock because if some tries to force it, the load is spread around the frame and door, rather a single, high impact point.
What to look for in high security windows?
High security and energy efficient windows employ the same principles as high security doors, featuring multi-point shoot and hook-bolt locking mechanisms to anchor the opening sash to the frame. This includes 8-point locking (9 on larger sizes) providing the ultimate burglar deterrent.
These are also fully tested by an independent test laboratory to over 6,000N force; more than double the requirement of the BSI 7950 security test. Where security is a major area of concern, this core specification can also be enhanced to meet all requirements set out under SBD.
Depending on the window’s location, this can include the introduction of laminated glass to the specification. This features a special layer which holds the glass together, a little bit like a car windscreen if someone tries to force entry by smashing it.
Do I need to upgrade to high security windows?
If you have had new windows or doors fitted in the last three-years, as long as you bought them from a reputable supplier, they should already be highly resistant to attack. If your door is older but fundamentally sound but may have a Euro Cylinder, it’s worth getting the lock changed - a very low cost exercise for the peace of mind it will give you.
If your windows and doors are really long in the tooth, for example they’re externally glazed or older PVC-U panel door, it’s definitely worth considering their replacement.
We’re happy to carry out a free window and door home security check. It’s also worth remembering that it’s not just window and door security which has moved on but also energy efficiency and aesthetics.
*Hampshire Constabulary Freedom of Information Request HC/00944/17