Is Additional Security for UPVC Doors Necessary?
A huge number of homes are fitted with UPVC doors. They are attractive and largely maintenance free, but are UPVC doors secure and what can you do to make UPVC doors more secure?
UPVC doors are the natural choice for a lot of people when they think about changing their existing doors for new ones. UPVC Doors are virtually maintenance free, never need painting and are available in a wide range of styles and colours.
UPVC Doors are also the doors of choice for a large number of new builds.
The question that many people ask however is whether or not UPVC doors are secure or is it worth considering installing additional security for UPVC doors? .
Are UPVC Doors Secure?
The locking system used on UPVC Doors are generally accepted as being superior to those found on the majority of wooden doors.
Wooden doors are usually fitted with a maximum of two locks, a five lever mortice dead lock and possibly also a Yale style lock. UPVC doors however feature what is referred to as a ‘multi point locking strip’ which incorporates a number of hooks and bolts. Lifting the door handle engages these hooks and bolts into metal keeps that are attached to the door frame prior to turning the key in the lock.
Having multiple locking points makes the door much more difficult to open by shear force compared to a standard mortice and Yale arrangement.
Although multi point locks are reasonably secure there are lots of additional measures you can take to Provide Additional Security to UPVC Doors.
Is the Standard UPVC Doors Standard Locking Mechanism Secure?
The multi point locking system used on the majority of UPVC doors generally feature five locking points. The locking points are positioned along virtually the full depth of the door. Mortice and Yale locks, on the other hand, simply engage into the keep on the frame of the door, directly adjacent to where the locks are positioned.
The multi point locking mechanism is operated by a spindle, or tumbler, contained in a metal cylinder that protrudes through both sides of the door. Cylinder locks are referred to as ‘pin tumbler locks’. What this means is that the locking mechanism utilises pins of varying lengths which prevent the lock from being opened without the correct key being being inserted.
The majority of locks used on UPVC Doors were originally five pin cylinder locks. More and more people are now however tending to fit six cylinder locks as they provide a much greater level of security. There are in fact approximately ten times the amount of possible lock configurations with a six pin tumbler compared to the five pin version. This makes it much more unlikely that another door in your neighbourhood uses a key identical to yours.
Anyone trying to simply pick your front door lock will find a six pin lock much more difficult to open than a 5 pin cylinder.
If your UPVC Doors are fitted with a five pin cylinder lock it is well worth considering replacing it with a six pin cylinder.
New cylinders are inexpensive to buy and are extremely easy to fit if you want to do it yourself. The main consideration is to ensure that the cylinder you buy is the correct length for your door. It should not protrude, particularly on the outside, by more than a few millimetres. The more it protrudes the easier it is for a thief to break into your home.
The cylinder is the weakest part of a multi point locking mechanism. If the cylinder is compromised all of the locking points are rendered useless. There are several different types of cylinders available for retrofitting to your doors.
Additional security for UPVC Doors can easily be achieved by simply upgrading your existing cylinder lock to one of the more secure options.
Can You Open a Locked UPVC Door Without a Key?
The standard cylinder locks used on UPVC doors can very often be rendered useless by someone wishing to gain access to your home without too much difficulty.
One of the favourite techniques used by burglars to gain access through a door fitted with a cylinder lock is called ‘lock snapping’. By applying sufficient vertical or lateral force to the end of the cylinder it will snap at the centre, which is its weakest point, beneath the cam. Once the cylinder has been snapped and removed the cam inside the cylinder can easily be turned and the door will then open.
There are special tools that can be purchase specifically designed for lock snapping. These are not however essential as the technique can be carried out using tools found in most garages and workshops.
Making sure that the cylinder lock in your door is the correct length, and does not protrude too far, makes the cylinder more difficult to snap. Ideally the maximum protrusion should not exceed 3mm.
There are a number of high security cylinder locks on the market that are substantially more secure than standard cylinder locks. These include what is referred to as ‘anti snap cylinders’.
Anti Snap Cylinders are designed to snap at a none critical point rather than beneath the cam, which is where a standard cylinder lock will usually snap.
Although the burglar is still able to ‘snap the lock’ he is unable to gain entry as the integrity of the lock is maintained.
Can You Fit Security Chains and Security Bolts to UPVC Doors?
In principle there is no reason why you could not fit any standard security chain to a UPVC Door. In reality fitting a standard security chain would however provide only a very limited amount of additional security and would basically be a waste of time.
The two components of a door security chain are usually screwed directly to the door and the door frame respectively. This arrangement may provide a reasonable amount of additional security for wooden doors as the screws, if fitted correctly, will hold both parts of the chain assembly quite securely. A substantial amount of force will be required to dislodge the screws. In fact it is far more likely that the door and frame will splinter rather than screws being forced out of position.
Sliding security bolts are generally fitted in much the same way as security chains, with one part being attached by means of screws, directly to the door and the keep being attached to the door frame.
Although UPVC doors may appear to be solid they are generally not. The door will usually consist of two relatively thin skins of UPVC (one on the inside and one on the outside) which are laminated to a polystyrene core.
As you can appreciate attaching anything by means of a screw to this type of construction will simply not give a satisfactory result. Only a small amount of force will be required to rip the screws away from the door. The same thing will apply to screws attached to the plastic frame.
If you are considering adding security bolts or security chains to your UPVC doors then it is essential that you purchase a product that is designed specifically for use with UPVC doors.
How do Door Chains for UPVC Doors work?
There are door chains specifically designed to be used in conjunction with UPVC Doors. Although door chains that are designed to be used specifically with UPVC Doors work in pretty much the same way as conventional security chains the method of fixing tends to be different.
Door Chains for UPVC Doors are not usually attached to the door and door frame with screws.
The section that holds the chain is attached to the door reveal and not to the door frame. By fixing it to the wall in this way means that it requires a considerable amount of force to dislodge it.
Security chains for UPVC Doors do not incorporate ‘keeps’ to attach the chain to the door.Some styles of (such as Secure-Ring Universal Door Security Chain) attach the chain by means of a ring that slides directly over the door handle itself.
The Solon door security chain for UPVC doors works slightly differently. It utilises the existing machine screws that hold the lock and handle assembly to the door.
The bottom screw securing the door handle and lock assembly is removed and replaced with a similar screw that is slightly longer. The additional length of the screw allows a specially designed ‘keep’ to be attached directly to the door handle itself.
In both of the above examples the integrity of the door is not compromised in any way as no additional holes have to be drilled into the door.
Can you get Security Bolts for UPVC Doors?
There are very few Security Bolts for UPVC Doors available. There are however a number of other devices that are designed specifically for use with UPVC doors that do the same job as a security bolt.
There is one product in particular that I have seen advertised that would appear to do a great job of helping to keep your UPVC doors burglarproof.
It is called ‘The Door Bull‘. The product consists of three main components, a frame plate, a locking device and a hanger.
The frame plate is attached to the door frame at the opening side of the door using long heavy duty screws. The screws are intended to pass all the way through the frame into the brick or block structure of the house. The locking device is then slid over the frame plate. When in position the locking device overhangs both the fame and the door itself by a considerable margin. A great deal of force is required to break down the door once the locking device is in place.
The third component, the hanger, is used to store the locking device when not in use.
There are a number of other door lock reinforcers available that work on a similar principle. Most of them however are one piece constructions that are secured to the door jamb and then hinged into position to secure the door. Most of these lock reinforcers include 75mm screws that should be long enough to ensure they pass through the door jamb into the solid wall beyond.
What is a UPVC Door Jammer?
A UPVC Door Jammer is a device that is used to ‘jam the door’ if anyone should try to force it open.
There are several different designs available but basically they all do the same job.
Some of the Door Jammers work by wedging the door at the bottom. The foot of the device is slid under the door and then a bracing leg, which is hinged, is then adjusted to form a brace between the door and the floor.
The second style of UPVC Door Jammer consists of telescopic pole that can be adjusted to suit the door it is to be used on. One end of the pole is positioned underneath the door handle. The length of the pole is then set at an angle and adjusted so that bottom of the pole sits comfortably and securely on the floor.
The door jammer then forms a brace between the door and the floor making it very difficult to push the door open even if the door lock itself has been compromised.
Can You Buy Spy Holes for UPVC Doors?
Although having a spy hole in your UPVC door will not help to make your door itself any stronger it will provide you with peace of mind.
If someone knocks on your front door it is extremely reassuring to be able to see who it is prior to opening the door. This is particularly true if you happen to live alone.
There are a large number of front door peep holes to choose from. Spy holes for UPVC Doors are inexpensive to buy and they are easy to fit and usually require just one 15mm hole to be drilled through the door. The peep hole assembly is them simply pushed through the hole and secured from the inside with a retaining nut.
For anyone who wants to take the concept of the UPVC Front Door Spy Hole to the next level there are door viewers that incorporate cameras. These digital Door Peep Holes are obviously more expensive that the traditional style of spy hole but they do have a lot of features that many people will find useful.
Can I Make the Glass Panel in my UPVC door Unbreakable?
Many styles of front door incorporate a glass panel. These panels may make the door look more attractive but glass is notoriously easy to break and represents a possible weak spot that can be exploited by someone wishing to break into your house.
The glass that is fitted to front doors, including UPVC doors, is usually tempered glass. There are various regulations regarding the type of glass that is fitted to doors and windows that relate to their position from the ground etc.
The strength of the glass can however be improved significantly by covering it with Anti Shatter Window Film.
Anti Shatter Window Film is self adhesive and can be easily fitted by anyone with basic DIY skills.
UPVC door security Overview
There are numerous measures that you can take to provide additional security for UPVC doors. The measures listed above are only a few of them.
Although you may feel that your existing doors are relatively secure it is always worth considering increasing your home security if you can.
The cost of installing additional security measures to your doors and windows is extremely small when compared to the losses you might suffer if your house is burgled!