While we’ve long integrated both mechanical and electronic security solutions into our services, we surprise many customers when we tell them we started out as locksmiths! This makes us uniquely qualified to give customers advice when it comes to choosing and installing door hardware. Since locks represent your first line of defense against crime, we take this aspect of security very seriously. Unfortunately, this area of security actually goes fairly overlooked as business owners leave these decisions to others. In turn, this can lead to several types of lock-related security breakdowns. In this post, we share a variety of common lock hardware issues, as well as some valuable solutions.

First, we’ll show you why we choose the locks we do, as well as how we can measure them up against other locks on the market. From there, we’ll shift our focus from lock quality to lock function. Failing to address either of these areas properly can hurt you quite a bit. Therefore, we’ll help you make informed decisions in these processes. Then, we’ll look at the dangers of self-installed or non-professionally installed locks. Failing to call professionals leads to certain predictable outcomes that we will review. Finally, we’ll explain how we choose locks that meet all legal requirements and regulations. Now, let’s dive in and see how to avoid choosing locks that don’t live up to expectations.

Installing Locks That Fail to Make the Grade

All of us have heard the old adage that “you get what you pay for.” This sentiment runs especially true in the security industry. Many customers express surprise at how much the quality of lock hardware varies. In fact, lock hardware quality varies so much that the industry uses a three-point grading system designed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA) to measure a lock’s quality!

Multiple Mechanical Medeco Locks

The Medeco line of commercial locks can help secure your property by making your doors nearly impossible to breach.

Lock manufacturers often seek out ANSI/BHMA certification for their product lines. This certification involves putting locks through tests meant to gauge factors such as bolt strength, security, the ability to withstand impact and force, and quality of finish, among others. Allegion, one of the biggest global providers of security products, provides this helpful guide to door hardware testing. The lowest-quality hardware receives a “Grade 3” designation, with the best scoring in at Grade 1. As you can probably guess, Grade 2 falls right in the middle. We always prefer installing grade 1 locks, such as our preferred lock products made by Medeco.

Unfortunately, many locks fall under Grade 2 or even 3 quality standards. Burglars can easily pick these locks, or drill them to gain access to your property. Before purchasing locks, look at the packaging to see if you can determine what grade of lock you are buying. If you cannot find this information, assume that you are holding a Grade 3 lock. We recommend installing a lock that will last longer while also providing more security. Next up, let’s look at how choosing the right lock function can prove as important as choosing the right quality of locking hardware!

Choosing the Wrong Lock Functions for the Application

When we refer to the “function” of a lock, we are referring to the way that users must interact with the hardware to open a door. For example, some levers and lever trims operate freely at all times, without the option to use a key or to lock the door at all. We refer to this option as a “passage” function. This door hardware works well on doors that must be closed at times, but don’t require the security of locks. Interior doors that open into common hallways and closets make great spots for hardware with this function.

“Privacy” function levers also do not require a key to operate them. However, they do have a button on the inside that someone in a room can activate to lock out those on the outside of the door. However, operating the handle from the inside will always open the door and “pop” the button back to its unlocked position. We mainly install privacy function hardware in restrooms.

Finally, we also have a couple functions for doors that do require keys. “Entrance” function hardware represents the most popular of these. This function allows the first person in to use their key to unlock the door. At that point, it can stay unlocked until someone uses either a key or a thumbturn on the inside of the lever to re-lock it. For those that desire more security, we install “storeroom” function levers. This function requires the use of a key to open it at all times, with no option to keep the door unlocked. We install these levers in prioritized areas that should remain secured at all times. As you see, choosing the right locking function can prove greatly affect your building’s overall security! Let’s now look at how failing to have professionals install your lock equipment can lead to issues down the road.

Turning DIY Lock Installation into Lowered Security

Customers make a couple mistakes when installing their own locks. Often, they will install locks in a less-than-secure fashion that makes it easier for thieves to breach the locks. Installation mistakes can show up both on the door itself and on the door’s frame. For example, installing a lock too far towards the center of the door will hinder the lock’s bolt from sliding as far into the frame as it should. This makes it much easier to use a brute force attack to open a door. Additionally, failing to cut a proper-sized hole into the frame for lock-catching mechanisms can create this same issue.

A green sign reading "DIY"

Whether you install your own locks or have them ordered already installed, avoiding a professional installation can lead to major security issues.

Many steps of lock installation lend themselves to potential errors that could hurt security. For this reason, we recommend that you have a locksmith review your doors’ lock hardware after installation. Whether you install this equipment yourself or have doors installed with already-selected hardware, taking this step can ensure that you have effective locks that will remain secure for years to come. Now, let’s see how some common lock hardware issues stem from failing to meet legal industry guidelines.

Failing to Follow Legal Lock Hardware and Installation Guidelines

When it comes to securing your business, interior locks serve an important purpose. Interior lock security can help keep offices, supply and server closets, and other rooms and spaces “off limits” to many employees secure. However, we must do so with a couple important guidelines in place. For starters, we must follow Massachusetts Fire Code, based on standards put forth by the National Fire Protection Association (or “NFPA”). The specific code these guidelines are based on is called “NFPA 1.” This code creates legal guidelines for locks that we can install that do not hinder fire security.

For example, we cannot install deadbolts in commercial spaces, as deadbolts can block one’s escape from a burning building. For this reason, we must make sure that we install commercial lock equipment that resides in the handle of the door itself. Additionally, we must also install “crash bar” exit devices on marked exits to allow for quick, single-motion escape during an emergency.

Furthermore, we must also follow legal guidelines contained within the Americans with Disabilities Act (or “ADA”). This Act, passed in 1990, helped create many commercial lock requirements. Congress passed this law in order to ensure universal access to commercial buildings. In particular, this act rules that installing doorknobs in commercial spaces can hinder handicapped people from freely operating doors. Therefore, we prefer to install levers that users can operate more freely than doorknobs in businesses. Following these two major legal guidelines allows us to install locks that provide the most security and ease of use for all.

Putting it All Together and Avoiding Common Lock Hardware Issues

We hope that this post helps you avoid all of the common lock hardware issues listed here. Furthermore, we also encourage you to contact us if this post raises any questions. We will happily answer any and all of your lock-related inquiries. Moreover, we can also stop out and visit your property to see how we can put the material presented here to work. We offer complimentary security audits and equipment quotes to both new and existing customers alike. While on site, we can address your security concerns, and even make our own suggestions based on our observations of your property. Together, we can create a complete security plan to keep your business — and everyone in it — as safe and secure as possible!