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Why a Home Security Audit is Just as Important as a New Home Walkthrough

Purchasing a new home is an exciting milestone, but it comes with a lot of responsibility. We’ve all heard of a home walkthrough, but have you considered doing a security audit on your new home? A new home walkthrough is typically performed by a realtor, contractor, or homeowner before moving in. The purpose of this inspection is to ensure the home is free from defects and issues that could lead to costly repairs or homeownership headaches afterward.

A security checklist is very similar. It will help you get an understanding of your home’s existing level of security and point out vulnerabilities that need addressing. With this security checklist from Pop-A-Lock, you can have peace of mind, feeling safe in your new residence.

Examine the Entrances

First things first, check all the entrances to your home, including the front door, back door, and the door from your home to your garage. Check to make sure each door is made from solid metal or wood, as hollow doors can be easily knocked in. The door should also fit snugly into the door frame, and the frame should be tightly secured to the wall. Make sure your locks are working and that you have a deadbolt lock in addition to your doorknob or door handle lock. When moving into a new home, you may want to consider lock rekeying. This won’t require a whole new lock installation, but ensures that you know exactly who has access to your home. 

A photo of a bright, modern home. The shot is from the dining room into the kitchen and highlights beautiful, airy windows full of sun.

Check the Windows

Next, you’ll want to check all the windows in the house.  Windows should also be made from solid material and fit snugly into their frames. The windows may have locks but these can be broken, so check your windows for areas that are weak or can easily be accessed by burglars. You’ll want to take a look at the locks near the bottom of the window as well as those on the sliding glass. If you have a two-story home, or windows that open to a hazardous area, make sure these windows are lined with window screens.

Smoke Detector and Fire Extinguisher

Some other things to check inside the building are the smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. Make sure your smoke detectors are working properly and have new batteries. You can easily check whether your fire alarm is working by pressing and holding the test button on the smoke detector. You should hear a loud noise. If you don’t, you may need new batteries or an inspection performed on your smoke detector.

New homes are not always equipped with a fire extinguisher. Though it may feel like a pain to purchase a new one, it can be the difference between a quick fix and a disaster.

Update Your Security System

If you don’t already have a security system installed in your home, consider installing one as soon as possible. Most break-in attempts occur through easy access points like doors or windows. Having a security system installed will notify you if someone has broken into your home, or entered at a time when you’re not home. If your new home does have a security system, check that it is working, and more importantly, that you know how to use it. After all, a security system is only effective if it is used consistently.

Photo of dusk where the sky is getting dark, but the horizon is filled with the sunset’s glow. In the image is a beach home with towering palm trees and outdoor hanging lights.

Keep the Perimeter of Your Home Well Lit

Now that you’ve checked some things inside the house, let’s walk around the perimeter of your home to make sure everything is in tip-top shape. You want to make sure the outside of your home is well lit on every side. This will make it more difficult for burglars to break in and harder for them to escape without being noticed. You want your lighting to be motion-activated, especially near the doors and windows where they are most needed.

Clean Up That Foliage

This may sound like a landscaping tip more than a security tip, but make sure your yard is well kept. Overgrown bushes and trees make for an easy hiding spot for potential thieves. You’ll want to trim your bushes up to the height of your windows so that you can see outside without obstruction.

Make Sure Your Address is Visible

It is also important that your numbered address is easily legible from the street. If plants are blocking their view, or the paint has faded over time, you’ll want to prioritize getting this fixed. Emergency services like the police or EMS need to be able to see your address clearly, in case of a burglary or health emergency.

A photo of many friends sitting on the ground outside around a short table. There’s a guitar and the table is decorated with drinks, food, and other festive items.

Know Your Community

Finally, get to know your neighbors. This may sound like it has nothing to do with the safety of your home, but it’s important in case anything should happen. Neighbors can keep an eye out for each other and inform you if there’s ever  unusual activity nearby. If you ever go out of town, you’ll want a trusted neighbor to have a spare key. This way, they’ll be able to do things like collect your mail and take out the trash to help your home look occupied.

This home security checklist will only take about 30 minutes of your time, but can make a lifetime of difference. Just like a home walkthrough, a security checklist can save you from financial burden. By checking off each of these steps, you can be sure that your house is protected from things like invasion and fire. Your safety is our number one priority – if you find yourself needing security systems installed or fixed, or locks rekeyed, don’t hesitate to call your local Pop-A-Lock! We’d be delighted to help.

 

Why Your Sliding Doors Require Routine Maintenance (And How to Care for Them)

What if the difference between a confrontation with an intruder and a safe, restful night of sleep was something as simple as cleaning debris from your sliding door? Or if the difference between losing your dog in traffic and getting out of the door in time to catch her was simply reinstalling your sliding doors properly? 

If your sliding  door is left without maintenance, it is liable to  get caught on a faulty track or built up debris  without you even realizing it. That could mean someone mistakenly leaving it open  just enough to catch a burglar’s attention, or getting it stuck closed to prevent you from getting out in time for any event you wouldn’t want to miss—whether that’s catching an escaped pet or witnessing a shooting star. 

It’s easy to overlook the little things as we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of our busy worker bee lives. That’s why we want to make sure you keep your home safe by letting you in on some basic precautionary steps you can take immediately.

How Your Sliding Doors Could Get Damaged 

The truth is, it doesn’t take much for your sliding doors to get stuck or damaged. One of the primary causes leading to damage is simply prolonged use. The longer and more often you use them, the more wear and tear they accumulate. It’s also a common problem for dust and dirt particles to get caught inside the track, making it difficult to open or close the door. This really takes a toll on the rollers and has a high probability of leading to a need for professional repair. 

The important thing is that you address any minor issue as soon as you can, because the longer you leave a problem with your doors unresolved, the more likely it is to graduate to a much more serious situation. Using the doors while there is damage can also exacerbate the problem, so it’s best to keep use to a minimum until you can tend to them.

Installation & Inspection

Thankfully, while it doesn’t take much to run into a problem with your sliding doors, it also doesn’t take much to maintain them to avoid any problems altogether. One of the first things you should do that can help prevent any cause for concern is perform regular inspections

If you notice the door struggling to operate properly or any misalignment on the track, you know you’ll need to act. Should you run into this kind of situation and repair it quickly, the problem might still persist. In this particular instance, it is likely the result of having been installed incorrectly to begin with, so  you may want to try the installation process again. Make sure when you are inspecting your doors to use them gently so you don’t cause any unnecessary harm to the tracks or glass.

Regular Cleaning

For most people, a regular cleaning will do the trick to keep doors in good condition. Depending on where you live and how often you use them, you may need to clean them more or less frequently. If you live near the ocean, for example, the salt and humidity can lead to damages on your doors’ exterior,  so best practice would be to clean them once a week. For most people, aim for once a month at least. 

To clean the doors, just wipe the frame inside and out which will help  protect them against weather damage. Be sure to avoid any harsh chemicals as they can harm the finish on your frame. Just start with a regular dusting followed by warm water and a little soap.

A lot of wear can come from bits of fallen food, dirt and mud brought in from shoes, or even just pet hair landing on the track. There’s also rust, grime, and debris that gets blown in from the outdoors. You’ll want to clean your track and rollers monthly for proper maintenance. 

First vacuum out any of the junk that’s lodged in the track, then use a screwdriver, wire brush, hanger, butter knife, or whatever you have handy that will  fit inside the divots to scrape out anything the vacuum didn’t pick up. Be sure to pay special attention to the wheels as anything that gets caught inside might be easy to miss. Afterwards, use the warm water and soap solution from earlier to clean off the leftover dirt and an old toothbrush will make for a good finisher.

Lubricate the Tracks 

Finally, make sure door opens and closes smoothly by lubricating the tracks. You’ll prevent running into a sticky situation where your doors are tough to open or close fully and you can sleep sound at night knowing those sliding doors are keeping you safe. Lubrication will allow the wheels to  run easily across the track, but make sure you focus on the bottom wheels as they will require more attention than the top since most of the weight is resting on them.

If you have it handy, a silicone lubricant is your best bet. Just apply using a clean cloth or rag. Since not everyone has access to silicone lubricant, a  mix of baking soda and white vinegar will be just as effective. You can put it in a squirt bottle to make it easier to use. Be careful not to use too much or the floor around it might cause someone to slip. It’s important to wipe away any extra lubricant that leaks away from the tracks and keep use toa minimum. Once you’ve applied the lubricant, it’s time to use the door—open and close it a few times to get that lubricant in every crack and crevice so you can be certain it’s going to slide with ease.

You may also want to lubricate the door locks and handles from time to time. A light spray of WD40 should suffice. Keep in mind, the lubrication process should come after cleaning and never before or it will do more harm than good. If you have aluminum tracks, lubrication is not necessary and can create other issues that are much more severe, so we would avoid using it at all costs. Aluminum tracks don’t rust, so a light cleaning is plenty.

Additional Maintenance

If you’ve gone through the above process and your door still isn’t cooperating with you, you’ll need to hire a professional. When replacing your sliding doors, it’s worthwhile to have your locks checked as well. 

Not only can Pop-A-Lock rekey and replace your locks, we’ll even do a security audit to make sure your home is safe– from your locks to sliding doors to the lighting outside your home. Afterall, your safety is our number one priority! For all your locksmithing needs, your local Pop-A-Lock is here to help.

Residential Doors: Different Types and What to Know About Them

Doors are everywhere – your home, your car, your workplace. As frequently as we open doors, we often disregard the details. You may be surprised to learn about the various material and style options available for residential doors. 

Some are best designed for durability, others mainly for style. Regardless, the right kind of door is out there for you. Keep reading to learn about the different types of residential doors and what you should know about them.

Residential Door Materials

There are a variety of different materials to use for residential doors. Among the most common are wood, steel, and fiberglass.

Wood is the most traditional material for a residential door whether it’s a front door or inside the home. It is highly customizable and comes in a variety of finishes – from custom paint colors to varnishes that enhance the wood’s natural beauty. Wood can also be easily cut to fit a custom frame. Wood is fairly durable but requires periodic maintenance because the finish can easily fade, peel, or warp when exposed to the elements.

Solid-core wood doors are the most durable and are less likely to warp over time. Hollow wood doors should only be used inside the home as they can be easily kicked in.

Metal doors can be made of steel, aluminum, and iron. Hollow metal doors can come in varying degrees of thickness or gages. Solid metal doors have a range of options for the door core such as honeycomb or insulated cores. Steel doors often have a polyurethane core as solid steel would be too heavy for the hinges of a door. Steel doors are the most common type of metal door because they are very secure and durable. However, metal doors can dent and rust, unlike wood doors. Steel doors are also not as versatile as wood doors because it is harder to cut. 

Fiberglass doors are strong and durable and require little maintenance. Some fiberglass doors come with wood grain-mimicking finishes that are beautiful and realistic. They work well in almost any climate, even in extremely cold and damp conditions. Unlike wood, fiberglass doors do not warp, crack, or rot. And unlike steel, the doors don’t rust, scratch, or corrode. 

Styles of Residential Doors

You’ve probably seen more hinge doors than you can count. Hinge doors are also known as passage doors and these are, by far, the most common residential doors. However, there are also a lot of additional styles you may not be familiar with.

Dutch doors are rare but offer a very unique feature. These doors are split in half so the top and bottom open separately. These doors are very convenient for letting fresh air into the home without fully opening the door. The top half, more or less, acts as a window. This type of door goes great in the kitchen to air out after cooking.

French doors are double doors that open inward. They appear luxurious and spacious and can be designed for interior use or as a front door. 

Sliding doors roll along a track and typically open from one side or the other. Sliding doors may be wood or glass. They are most often found as an exit to a patio or the entrance to a closet.

Pocket doors also slide on a rail but they disappear into the wall when opened. The name comes from the fact that they hide in the “pocket “ of the wall. These types of doors are commonly used for powder rooms, bathrooms, closets, and pantries. They’re a great space saver and offer a sleek design. 

Barn doors have a lot of character and have acquired increasing popularity over the years. This type of door slides on a track on the outside of the room. Unlike the sliding door or pocket door, a barn door hangs from the track and glides freely at the bottom. Barn doors are common for bedrooms, bathrooms, or just about anywhere inside the home.

Which Door is Best for You?

Deciding which door is best for you depends on what you value most in a door – safety, style, or longevity.

If you’re opting for safety, steel doors will prevent any unwanted visitors from entering your home. A steel door is virtually impossible to kick in. For ultimate safety, opt for a steel door with a polyeurtheane core as hollow doors are not as secure.

If you’re searching for something affordable and durable, a fiberglass door will be your best option. The material is resistant to dents, warping, rusting, and corroding. With realistic wood-grain finishing, a fiberglass door is beautiful and does not sacrifice longevity.

Whether you prefer a sleek design or something a bit more worn on the edges, there are stylistic choices for everyone. French doors may be the best choice for you if you’re looking for something luxurious with a classic feel. Barn doors will suit you better if you prefer a rustic, down-to-earth feel, but are primarily used for the interior of your home.

Dutch doors take the cake in terms of uniqueness. They offer functional and stylistic benefits. If you have young children or pets, opening the top half of a dutch door can let fresh air and sunshine in without your little ones running away from you.

If you upgrade your front door and need new locks installed, your local Pop-A-Lock will be happy to help. Our expert technicians can install new locks in minimal time at an affordable price.

Types of Residential Locks: Which Kind Is Best for Your Home

We use residential locks everyday – when we leave the house, come home, and when we’re inside to help keep ourselves and our family safe. Most people, however, may not even be familiar with what these locks are called and how they operate. Find the best fit for your home by reading more about each type of lock below.

Doorknob

The doorknob is the most common type of lock and is usually found on the front entrance to a home. These locks are composed of either a single cylinder or double cylinder. The cylinder is the part of the lock where the key goes in. A single-cylinder means that the door can only be unlocked from the outside. On the inside, you’ll find a knob which you can twist to lock the door. Double cylinder door knobs can be locked with a key from either side, and are more common in residential spaces, where locking from the inside is only permitted by those with a key.

To increase security, these kinds of doors can be paired with a deadbolt or a spring bolt. A doorknob with a deadbolt is a great option for most homeowners. Deadbolts typically help to provide the highest level of protection from the outside world, and the doorknob is a classic lock to pair with it.

Handsets

Handsets are another common lock for a front door entrance; they are, however, a bit more stylish than the typical doorknob. Similar to the doorknob, these locks can also be equipped with either a single or double cylinder. In residential homes, handsets are usually equipped with a single-cylinder and can be locked from the inside by twisting a knob.

Unlike a doorknob, these locks are typically paired with a deadbolt, rather than a spring bolt, for additional security. Spring bolts work by compressing when the key is in the cylinder to unlock the door. Once the door is closed, the spring automatically jumps back. A deadbolt is manually locked when you are inside your home, to add additional securement from break-ins and even severe weather. Deadbolts are much more secure than a spring bolt, which is why most residential and commercial spaces opt for this kind of lock.

A handset is a great option for homeowners who want a more stylish option than the classic doorknob. They’re just as secure, but have a bit more curb appeal.

Hand Levers

Hand levers are another form of common residential lock, but don’t provide as much security as the doorknob or handset. For this reason, you’ll usually find them inside the home for doors to bedrooms, closets, or bathrooms. Hand levels are almost always single-cylinder locks. This is because they’re used inside the home, where locking is necessary for privacy rather than for security. The handle feature makes these doors easy to open when lugging in groceries, shopping bags, or other goods around the home.

Hand levers are a great alternative to classic door knobs inside the house. They are easier to open than a door knob, especially when your hands are full. They are also more stylish than the typical door handle.

Electronic Locks

Electronic locks are the middle option between traditional and smart locks. They usually have an electronic keypad that prompts the owner to type a passcode to unlock the door. They also have a keyhole as a backup if the electronic portion runs out of battery, or if you can’t remember your passcode. Fortunately, most electronic locks will remain charged for about 3-5 years, as unlocking takes up very minimal battery. Some are even solar-powered!

Electronic locks are great for any homeowner, particularly those who don’t want to carry around keys. They’re also perfect for larger families, so kids can get in and out of the house without worrying about losing a house key. After all, a lost key can mean an unwanted security risk!

Smart Locks

Smart locks allow you to use your phone to unlock your home. Some operate with Wi-Fi, others a Bluetooth connection. If your lock operates on Wi-Fi, you can adjust your locks wherever you are, as long as your phone has a wireless connection. This feature is perfect for anyone who drives to work and wonders, “Did I lock the front door this morning?”

Smart locks are ideal for any homeowner, since they require a personal phone to get into the house. If you’re forgetful about locking your door, you’ll love having a smart lock and the opportunity to check, double-check, or even triple-check your locks from any location.

Now that you know a little more about residential locks, it’s time for an upgrade! By understanding how each lock works and the benefit of each, you’ll feel more confident about your choice. Whenever you’re ready to change the locks on your home, Pop-A-Lock is on standby. Learn more about our residential locking services on our website. After all, your safety is our number one priority!

The Pop-A-Lock Checklist to Making Sure Your Home is Secure

A family of three sitting around a white table.

Home is where the heart is – for most people, that’s their family. We’re sure you want to keep them safe. According to the FBI, there are over 1 million burglaries a year in the United States, with the average value stolen being $2,600. Unfortunately, burglaries aren’t the only threat. Roughly 350,000 home fires occur a year. Precautions to avoid these events are simple but often overlooked. Follow these guidelines to secure your home and keep you comfortable.

Roses climbing up a trellis leaned against a house with light gray siding. Plants are growing up the wall near a window.

Keep Your Yard Neat

Believe it or not, an unkempt yard can put you in danger. Tall bushes provide a place for burglars to hide from yourself and neighbors. Overgrown vegetation near windows can be especially dangerous in providing a way for burglars to discreetly sneak in. Excess foliage also makes fires easier to spread. In the event of a fire or a burglary, you’ll likely try to call 911.  Tall bushes will conceal your home number, making it difficult for emergency services to find your home quickly. By keeping bushes short, you can reduce hiding spots , prevent the spread of a fire, and increase the efficiency of receiving help in an emergency.

The outside of a house with outdoor lamps lighting the way.

Light Your Home and Advertise Your Security System

A lit entrance to your home is also very important. Burglars aren’t looking for a challenge. Make sure the driveway and entrance to your home are lit at night. Keep the backyard lit as well. You may even consider motion sensor lights or flood lights, which help to deter burglars. Also, it is important to keep the signs of your home security company visible. Burglars are three times more likely to rob a home that lacks home security. So keeping stickers on all your windows and a home security sign by the front door will help keep you safe.

A key in a door lock.

Secure Your Doors

Oftentimes, burglars will kick down a door that is locked. Keeping the deadbolt locked on doors will make this much harder. Most doors already have a deadbolt, but they can be easily installed if your door doesn’t already have one.

Sliding doors should also be double secured with a dowel rod or some kind of additional lock. Doors should fit tightly into their frames so they are not flimsy. Weather stripping can help secure a loose fitting door. Take it a step further by installing a heavier door made from metal clad or solid wood. These differ from hollow wooden doors or doors with glass windows that could be broken in just moments with little effort .

You’ll also want a way to see outside your door without opening it. Most front doors already have a peep hole, but if yours doesn’t, it’s smart to install one as soon as possible. Another alternative is a doorbell camera. Not only can you see who’s there when the doorbell is rung, but they typically save video footage of your front door throughout the day in case of any suspicious activity.

Stay Equipped For Fire Safety

Every home should be equipped with a fire extinguisher, smoke detector, and carbon monoxide detector. Roughly 50% of house fires occur in the kitchen due to cooking. It is important to keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen for this reason. Additionally, be sure to replace your smoke detector batteries as soon as they go out. Most smoke detectors have a built-in carbon monoxide detector as well but if yours doesn’t, consider getting a separate device. Carbon monoxide is silent and deadly making a detector extremely important for your safety at home.

Two people sitting on swings facing each other.

Know Your Neighbors

In addition to the appearance and equipment in your home, it is important to know your neighbors. Get to know your neighbors on both sides of your home as well as across the street. They can keep you in the loop when you’re out of town or at work if they notice some unusual activity.

Take Precautions When Out of Town

Avoid sharing your vacation on the internet until you’ve returned home. Don’t tell anyone you’re leaving, except people you trust, like your family and neighbors. Have your neighbors keep an extra key on hand and collect your mail for you. Burglars will often choose a house that looks empty or has an overflowing mailbox. It is also a good idea to set a timer for the lights to stay on inside from the morning till about 6 p.m. After all, 65% of burglaries happen during the day while people are at work.

Pop-A-Lock puts your safety first. If you find yourself locked out, Pop-A-Lock will get a technician to you so you don’t have to break a window. We also have electronic locks if you’re looking to update your residential lock system. When following these guidelines, you will be able to enjoy quality time in your home, feeling safe and secure.

Trying to Break In After Being Locked Out? Why You Should Not DIY

A person looking through a closed window.

Being locked out of your car or home is a stressful situation — so much so that the advantages of kicking down a door or breaking a window appear to outweigh the resulting damage. While these seem like favorable alternatives to waiting around for help, especially if you’re in a hurry or stuck in an unsafe location, it’s almost never worth it. Read on to see why DIY’ing your entry in a lockout situation puts you at risk for injury, burglary, and even unsavory run-ins with the law.

Property Damage and Personal Injury

When squaring-up your door or car window, thinking only of getting inside, it’s easy to overlook the costs. Forcing open a door or breaking glass inevitably results in damage to your property — the repair costs from which are almost always more expensive than calling a locksmith. Depending on how much force you use and the quality of the locking mechanism, these costs can be brutally high. Now add to this the costs of rekeying. Additionally, with breaking in, you risk harming yourself on door debris or broken glass. Imagine now dealing with a medical emergency on top of losing your keys on top of repair expenses. It’s a triple-whammy anyone would want to avoid.

Shattered glass next to a person's feet.

Security Risk

Breaking open a door or window leaves your property vulnerable to theft, no matter how quickly you’re able to mend the problem. If you break down your door, it’s likely that it won’t be able to shut properly once you’re inside. It’s even less likely that the locks will work. Broken windows, on the other hand, allow for easy entry, in addition to tipping-off any passersby to the fact that. If you’re unable to fix this damage right away, your home or car becomes a greater target each day you leave it sitting unfixed. Once again, in any of these cases, calling a locksmith will be easier than replacing property or dealing with the trauma of a home invasion.

An open door at the end of a dim hallway.

Legal Issues

Imagine for a moment you’re a kindly passerby. You notice someone reaching through a shattered car window, straining to grab the keys left in the ignition. Or, alternatively, you spot your neighbor’s door slightly ajar, one of the hinges broken. As a good Samaritan, you alert law enforcement of these break-ins immediately.  However, stepping out of this perspective, both cases happened to be instances of home or car owners trying to gain access to their own property. If law enforcement arrives on the scene, they would immediately profile the perpetrator of the break-in as a thief and arrest them, even if they’re the rightful owners of the home or car. There typically isn’t enough time to produce the proper documentation if you’re interrupted while breaking in. If you’re caught, you’d have a lot of explaining to do, and could even wind up in some legal trouble.

Person writing at a desk.

Time to Call Pop-A-Lock

If you’re in a safe location and locked out of your home or automobile, your first course of action should be giving Pop-A-Lock a ring (number). While we trust you’re strong enough to break down a door or window, our 24/7 locksmith services and roadside assistance will get you back inside just as quickly — minus the damage.

How You Need to Layer Up With Home Security This Winter

A house blanketed in snow.

The arrival of another chilly winter season often means one of two things: staying inside and getting cozy, or traveling (whether it be to see family for the holidays or going on vacation), leaving your home unattended. Regardless of which of these applies to you, it is crucial to take a few extra steps to layer up with home security in the winter time.

Not sure how to do that? Luckily for you, your local Pop-A-Lock experts have some helpful tips on how to stay safe and secure this holiday season.

Three people's sock-clad feet held out to the fireplace.

Your Security System

If you’ve just moved into a new home, or there is a different reason that you don’t yet have a security system, consider investing in one. This is especially crucial if you are planning to leave town for the holiday season, as you will not be able to respond immediately if something were to happen. Installing a security system that fits your home and its needs is the first step to ensuring your peace of mind, whether you are staying in or getting out this winter.

In addition to simply having one, there are extra steps you can take to increase the effectiveness of your alarm system:

  • Glass break sensors: These sensors monitor for the sound of glass breaking. These can be especially helpful if  your home has a lot of windows, or if there are several windows that are prone to break-ins (close to the ground, in a hidden area).
  • Open/close sensors: Not only are these handy to remind you when you’ve left a window open, they can also alert you to unusual openings and closings of windows and doors.
  • Security signs and stickers: Burglars may be deterred by the presence of a security sign or sticker on the windows.
  • Security cameras and doorbells: Many smart doorbells come with a motion-detecting camera. These doorbells and additional outdoor security cameras can be useful to let you know when someone unwanted is poking around outside.
  • Electronic locks: The key benefit of electronic locks is that they can be locked and unlocked from afar, allowing you to check and double check (maybe even triple check) whether a door is locked or not from a greater distance and without having to walk to the door inside the home.

Speaking of outdoor security cameras, there are several other things you can do to protect the outside of your home this winter.

Person taking the cover off of a motion detector showing the circuit board inside.

The Outdoors

The area around your property, such as the back and front yard, side yards, garages, or natural areas (forests and bodies of water) is just as important to keep an eye on as the inside of the home. As previously mentioned, security cameras are the first step to securing the outside of the home. Here are a few more things you can do:

  • Lights, lights, lights: There is almost no use for security camera systems if you cannot see what is happening on the video footage. Lights can also deter burglars, since entering a home that is well-lit is a deterrent.
  • Keep the exterior clean: If a home has snow build-up or an overgrown lawn, it will seem as though the home is not lived in. Intruders are more likely to want to enter a home if it seems as if the owners will not be back for a while.
  • Secure gates and fences:  If there is a gate in your back or front yard, secure it with a lock. Additionally, you can protect your yards or gardens by making it more difficult to climb the fences. This can be done by either making your fences taller, or adding obstacles (such as spikes) to the tops of fence posts.

Don’t forget the garage: The garage is also a vulnerable entrance point for intruders. If you tend to keep the garage open, consider installing a security camera inside the garage or simply closing it when nobody is home.

Two floodlights on a brick wall.

Inside the Home

Though installing a security system and securing the outside of the home seem like good enough precautions for home security, you cannot forget the actual home. All of your belongings, furniture, electronics, and even family heirlooms are at risk when you leave your home for long periods of time. Here are some things to think about when layering up with indoor home security:

  • Lock up small valuables: Valuable items such as jewelry should be hidden away, even locked in an inconspicuous drawer somewhere in the home. This is where it is important to think like a burglar; where is the last place they would think to check?
  • Invest in a safe: Important documents such as birth certificates and passports, as well as firearms and medications, should be kept in a locked safe that is bolted to the floor. If the safe is not bolted down, it still runs the risk of being carried out of the home.

Prepare a bright surprise: Motion sensor lights can be useful inside of the home as well as the outside. Intruders are likely to be startled by a light turning on in a room in a home they thought was empty.

Conclusion

Pop-A-Lock’s main goal is our customers’ security. If that means installing, inspecting, or repairing an alarm system or camera system, give us a call, we’ve got you covered. We want you to have the peace of mind you deserve this winter, no matter where you are.

The Top 10 Locks We Recommend for Your House

Hand holding a phone up to a smart lock.

Your home is the place for everything. A place to kick off your shoes after a long day of work and relax in front of the TV. It is a place to raise your kids and watch them grow. Home is for the holidays; a place to gather and share stories. Don’t let a faulty door lock keep your home from experiencing these moments. We want you and your household to feel safe during the day and at night. That is why we compiled a list of our top 10 favorite locks for household security. Find the lock that’s perfect for you!

Best Standard Door Lock

Yale Premier Single Cylinder YH82

  • Strong strike plate design 
  • Resistant to kick-ins
  • Tough to pick and drill through the cylinder

Best High-security Door Lock

Medeco Maxum 11*603

  • Strongest deadbolt ever
  • Excellent for drilling
  • Withstands kick-ins
  • Uses hardened steel inserts and rotating pins so it is hard to pick 
  • Provides protection against unauthorized key duplication
  • Lifetime warranty on its internal mechanism and its finish

Best Electronic Door Lock

Schlage Touch Keyless FE375 CAM

  • Electronic deadbolt
  • Hard to pick
  • Withstands drills and kick-ins
  • Smart keypad lock
  • Does not connect to the internet or smartphone 
  • 25-year warranty on its internal mechanism and a five-year warranty on its finish

Best Smart Lock

Yale Assure Lock SL 

  • August’s smart lock app and platform 
  • Remote controlled 
  • Access log 
  • Voice control (via Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit/Siri, and Google Assistant) 
  • Electronic keys 
  • Door open/close sensor 
  • Resists drilling, picking, and kick-ins

Best For Built-in Wi-fi

August Wi-Fi Smart Lock

  • Compact frame
  • Compatibility with Apple HomeKit/Siri and Z-Wave Plus smart home hubs to control your door
  • Remotely lock or unlock the door, check door status, and grant virtual guest keys
  • Built-in Wi-Fi so no additional Wi-Fi bridge 
  • Phone or watch is your key 
  • Easy to install and attaches to your existing deadbolt
  • Automatically locks and unlocks your door through geo-fencing 
  • Need the August Connect WiFi adapter, $79, to get access to all of the lock’s features.

Best For Voice Control

Schlage Sense Bluetooth

  • Deadbolt lock lets you:
    • Lock and unlock your doors via phone
    • Program access codes
    • Set up access schedules
  • Voice-activated Siri controls
  • Can’t access the lock from beyond the range of its Bluetooth radio unless you have an Apple TV

Best For Nest Users

Nest X Yale Lock With Nest Connect

  • Sharp-looking smart door lock 
  • Combines Yale reliability with Nest IoT home connectivity
  • Extended battery life
  • Nest Detect sensors can be placed farther apart in the home
  • Keyless, with a touchpad for entry by pin code
  • Set up to 20 pin codes for different individuals
  • Get notified when five incorrect pin attempts

Best Keyless Entry Lock

Schlage Touch Camelot Deadbolt

  • Compatibility with your home automation system
  • Manage the lock from anywhere on your smartphone 
  • Highest industry ratings for residential security and durability 
  • Stores up to 30 unique access codes
  • Fingerprint resistant 
  • Three built in alarms 
  • Three-year electronics warranty and lifetime warranty on its finish and mechanics

Best Deadbolt

High security Mul-T-Lock

  • Best resistance to bumping, picking, and forced entry techniques
  • Forged with strong materials including hardened steel and use patented technology
  • Two interlocking ball bearings which increase jimmying resistance
  • Increases the effectiveness of your existing door hardware
  • Only authorized Mul-T-Lock dealers can create Mul-T-Lock keys
  • Available in single, double, and captive key designs

Best Smart Lock For Apartments

August Smart Locks

  • Easy install with no hardware changes
  • Share virtual keys easily 
  • Control & track guest access with the app
  • Control front from anywhere with your phone
  • Door sensor telling when you door isn’t secure 
  • Smart alerts to notify you about comings, goings, and changes in door status

Pop-A-Lock Is Here To Help

We place utmost importance on keeping our customers safe in their own homes. Pop-A-Lock is here to help. Don’t put your safety and security at risk – let a trained professional install or repair your locks correctly at minimal time and cost. Give us a call today!

How To Stop Your Home From Attracting Burglars

French bulldog in a sheet with eye, snout, and ear holes.

Halloween is right around the corner, bearing with it the typical abundance of pumpkins, tacky yard-inflatables, and trick-or treaters. But buried in the heightened fright of the spookiest season lies a true threat — burglars. We don’t mean to be Debbie-downers, but crooks see the costumes and increased foot-traffic as a great distraction, and the faux-cemetery in your lawn as the perfect hiding spot. Luckily, there are several preventative measures you can take to ensure your home is as formidable as ever, so you can take your mind off thieves and get back to worrying about how much candy you’ve eaten.

Burglars Look for These Signs

According to the FBI, a home is burglarized every 26 seconds in the U.S. But thieves don’t select their targets at random: they look for signs that your security is compromised. Here’s a list of tell-tale signs that a home is ripe for burglary.

 

Unkempt lawns: Burglars are always on the look-out for additional cover and signs that a home is sitting vacant. Typically, unkempt lawns indicate that you’ve been gone for an extended period, making it obvious that your home is unguarded. Overgrown hedges and tall grass also make for perfect cover, as thieves can easily duck out of sight or shield their presence as they break in. Though messy lawns are eye-sores for the whole neighborhood, nothing is more attractive to a thief.

Dark home: Darkened windows or doorways signal that you’re either asleep of away from home. Since most burglaries occur in 8-12 minutes, thieves have a very narrow window and thus look to strike when it’s the least likely they’ll be apprehended.

Negligence: Home burglaries are always higher during summer months since thieves know most families are away on vacation. As mentioned earlier, signs of negligence such as an unkept lawn are dead giveaways that you won’t be home any time soon. Overstuffed mailboxes or packages left sitting in a doorway also indicate that no one is checking on your house — making these items easy targets as well. Additionally, if a thief suspects that you’re away from home, they’ll likely look for a spare key before attempting more destructive break-in methods. If you’re also negligent in hiding your spare — hiding it in obvious spots, such as under a mat or in a flowerpot — breaking-in is made all the more easy.

Expensive items on display: After going through all the trouble of breaking in, no thief wants to leave empty-handed. As such, they choose to target homes they know have expensive items. Whether it be a flat-screen TV, china cabinet, or expensive jewelry, leaving your valuables near high-visibility areas . Leaving your curtains open for extended periods is dangerous as well, since thieves need only to peer inside to get a sneak-peek of their potential score.

Opened doors: This is perhaps the most obvious sign, but leaving a door or window open by mistake can serve to attack thieves that would otherwise leave your house undisturbed. Opened garages are targets as well, since it’s likely that the door inside the garage is less secure than your front door.

The outside of a large house at night.

Take the Target Off Your Home

Security cameras: You may have a high-tech alarm system within your home (and, in our opinion, most homes should!) but nothing stops a thief in their tracks more than an outdoor security camera. Cameras not only record evidence and signal that your residence is under watchful surveillance, but also alert you to any potential disturbance.

Guard dog: This might seem a little barbarian, but having a loud, imposing dog that barks every time someone approaches your home actually helps deter thieves. According to a survey, 34% of convicted burglars stated that hearing or seeing a dog would turn them away from a home they were considering breaking into. But be warned — dogs require a lot of care, so buying one for security purposes alone is never a good idea. That being said, these watchful guards make for loving pets.

High visibility: Mow that grass and trim up those shrubs: a clean lawn means burglars have no place to hide, and indicate that someone’s been attending to your home. If you plan on being away for an extended vacation, it’s usually good to employ the help of a friend or neighbor in keeping your lawn clean and removing any packages that arrive while you’re away.

Lights with timers: To give the appearance of being home at all times, it’s best to leave a couple lights on. But you don’t need to worry about skyrocketing electric bills when securing your home: leaving the same lights on at all times can indicate absence too. In reality, it’s best to plug your lights into an automatic timer. These devices are cheap and can be purchased online — just be sure to set the timer to “random” so thieves can’t detect a pattern.

Close up, lock up: In the survey mentioned above, 56% of burglars said they entered a residence through the front or back doors, while another 22% said they entered through a first-story window. Based on this information, it’s best to make a habit of locking up behind you every time you go back inside, and to do a lock-check of every door and window before you leave home or go to bed. Along with this, you should be sure to hide valuables out of plain view, and close your blinds or curtains as well.

Grass with an eerie mist above it.

Locksmiths Know Security

If you’re still unsure of your home’s security level, Pop-A-Lock is here to help. With our residential security audit, we’ll check your home and property for potential blind spots, and advise you on how to beef-up your security measures. Check out our website for more handy tips and info about our services.

Solutions to the Top Security Camera System Questions

Solutions to the Top Security Camera System Questions

security cameras

There’s no training for becoming a homeowner and the avalanche of maintenance questions that follow. Besides, between mortgages, chores, and pesky HOAs, there’s hardly time to worry about whether a simple door alarm is enough to secure your property or if a hair-width crack in your wall means the foundation is going under. 

While we can’t speak to the latter problem, as home safety experts, we can provide solid answers on your pressing security system questions, no matter how small. In this article, we’ll address the five most common home security system questions (per Google search results), hopefully putting your safety worries to rest for good.

Security System Q & A

Q:  What should I look for when buying a house alarm?

A: First, let’s break down the difference between burglar alarms and home security systems, as the two are easily confused. 

Burglar alarms are individual, self-monitored units intended to alert you in the case of a break in. Security systems, on the other hand, may involve alarm units or other security equipment, but these materials are provided through a security company which then provides some form of 24/7 monitoring, such as calling the police when an alarm is set off. 

So, if you’re considering a house alarm system, you first need to determine if DIY, individual alarms and sensors are right for you, or if a monitored security system is more suited to your family’s needs. Though the former is cheaper, it only alerts you to nefarious activity after a trespass has occurred, not to mention it only works to deter crime if you’re home or near enough to hear the alarm. The latter, though more expensive, is probably more cost effective since, for a monthly fee, you receive 24/7 monitoring in addition to multiple pieces of security equipment, such as alarms and security cameras.


Q: What are the top 5 home security systems?

A: Though answers to this question vary based on personal preference, after browsing Consumer Reports and numerous other online rankings, we’ve compiled a list of what we believe to be the best home security systems on the market, in no particular order: 

  1. Vivint Security — best in smart home security
  2. SimpliSafe — best overall DIY security system 
  3. ADT — best in experienced professional monitoring 
  4. Cove Security — best in customer service
  5. Adobe — best in DIY smart home security

That said, this is merely our opinion, and we urge you to evaluate your family’s needs and conduct your own research before landing on any one system.

smartphone cctv

Q: What should I ask a home security company?

A: Great question! Before committing to any one security company, you should read up on their services, equipment, and customer service, weighing what you find against your family’s needs. Once you’ve landed on a couple security services, the next step would be to research or ask a company representative several of the following questions:

  • How long has the company been in business? While you might save money in using a newer company, you should only trust more advances security system monitoring and installation to reputable companies with years of experience.
  • Is the company fully licensed? Just because the company exists doesn’t mean it’s licensed. To ensure you receive the utmost quality, call to verify that your security company is licensed for business with state and local governments. 
  • What is the company’s average response time to alarms? In security, a great response time is considered 60 seconds or less. 
  • How frequently does the company test their systems? This involves regular check-ups to ensure all equipment is working properly. Here, the gold standard is once per month. 
  • What measures does the company take to ensure client safety? This question covers a range of customer safety concerns, from whether the company is fully bonded to whether the contractors who install the equipment receive background checks. Evaluate your concerns and ask accordingly. 
  • Does the security equipment have a warranty? All good things must end and, with electrical equipment, the final act may be closer than you think. Be sure to inquire on the length of the warranty and whether or not your security provider offers free installation/repair. 
  • Can the company provide information to share with homeowner’s insurance? In most cases, showing proof of a security system should lower your monthly premium. 
  • Does the company offer systems with advanced safety features? This includes remote access, cellular monitoring, video services, and email/text/phone notifications. 

Q: What’s the difference between surveillance cameras and security cameras? And what’s the difference between unmonitored and monitored security systems?

A: (Yes, we slightly manufactured this double question, but we think the answers to both are pertinent and somewhat related.)

Security cameras record video footage which are then translated into signals and sent to a remote monitor, whereas surveillance cameras operate on IP networks which link the remote camera to an assigned security location. The latter also typically implies the use of a third-party security monitoring professional.  It follows that if you’re installing video cameras on your property, unless they’re heavily monitored by your security company,  they’re almost always security cameras. 

Regarding security systems, monitored systems are actively monitored by a home security company. This means that if there’s a break in, trespasser, or other equipment-triggering emergency, the security team is immediately notified. Conversley, unmonitored or self-monitored systems involve security equipment you or a contractor installed, which you are then in charge of monitoring. 

These differences are important to note when researching security systems and selecting one that fits your safety needs. 

Q: Should I get window sensors?

A: In other words, are window sensors worth it? We think so, though neglecting to install these small alarms won’t result in a huge dent to your home’s overall safety if you have other security equipment in place. 

According to ADT, 23% of burglars use first-floor windows to enter a home — an alarming statistic indicating the importance of both locking and securing your windows. Window sensors can either alert you if your window is opened or if your glass breaks. Though most home security systems offer window sensors either separately or as part of an equipment bundle, it’s also relatively cheap to purchase these sensors independently.

cctv installation

We Know Security is King

As expert locksmiths, we know proper home security starts at the front door, but it doesn’t stop there. Ensuring your family has the best in protection means scoping your entire property for potential blind spots, and then finding ways to fortify potential weaknesses. If you’re looking for a blueprint on this search, look no further than Pop-A-Lock’s free, DIY security audit, found here.