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Locksmith in Cardiff
Published by Admin in Burglary Prevention • 22/10/2010 07:36:00


In the last few years, the number of mortice keys (popularly known as ’Chubb’ keys) being copied has fallen, and the number of cylinder keys (popularly known as ‘Yale’ keys) has risen dramatically. Most people, when faced with the necessity of having a new door, have opted for uPVC. Also, due to fierce competition in the field of double glazing installation, many households have chosen a package which involves a new door ‘free’ with new double-glazed windows. However, we should not be fooled in any way - nothing is ‘free‘.

These doors cost money, but by building the cost into the overall cost of the double glazing offer, the customer believes they are getting a good deal, and the sale goes ahead. All too often, what they are getting is the cheapest, most basic locking system available, and by discarding their ‘old-fashioned’ wooden door, they often lose out on security.

They are sometimes told that, instead of having to carry those two heavy keys they had before, it will be just one light key. What the customer is not being told is that, since these doors have been available, burglars and opportunist thieves have been testing them for security, and many locking systems are inadequate - they will not keep an intruder out for more than a few seconds. Furthermore, double glazing installers do not manufacture locks.

There may be those who are more aware of security issues and insist that the locking mechanisms have more than just the basic roller bolts, but they have very little idea of how good the cylinder may be. Their choice of lock to supply to their customer is most usually determined solely by cost, and if it’s part of a package deal, then the cheaper the better.

In 1980, the British Standards Institute introduced a quality standard for door locks which was immediately taken up by insurance companies. BS3621 ensured that the lock was strong enough to resist a prolonged force attack, to resist picking and drilling, and that there were enough variations of the keys available for the lock (a minimum of 2500 keys) that it was unlikely that anyone could go around with a bunch of keys and find one that would open the lock. Thirty years ago, most homeowners had wooden doors, and those that studied the small print of their insurance policies would call their local locksmith, and ask us to fit a lock that conformed with BS3621.

Of course, once this standard of lock became available, in common with many other locksmiths, I put one on my own front door. There were lots of break-ins in the 1980’s and 1990’s, on wooden doors with just a single cylinder lock, or on the new uPVC doors, and we upgraded hundreds of wooden doors with locks conforming to BS3621. Unfortunately, there were limited upgrade options available for uPVC doors back then, and at least one householder we knew went back to a wooden door following a series of three burglaries through his modern uPVC door. Following pressure from insurance companies, consumer groups and the police, a number of manufacturers have stopped making the basic uPVC mechanisms that are most prone to break-ins. Even though the basic mechanisms now cost more, there are still numerous types that are really less than adequate.

But where installers save is by fitting cheaper mechanisms that may have the extra security features, but are made out of cheaper materials that will last for only a fraction of the time that better items last. We still regularly see mortice locks that pre-date the 1980 British Standards kite-marked watershed. In normal use, a quality deadlock can be expected to last for 20 years - some will last twice as long. There are very few uPVC locking mechanisms that are made to last, and the standard of manufacturing materials used for most of them now means that you can expect to have to replace it within a decade.

There are several dozen prominent manufacturers of uPVC locking mechanisms, and the one thing that they have in common is that they have very little in common. There is no standard size for a mechanism. If you were to make something cheaply, aware that it would be unlikely to last very long, then you wouldn’t want your competitors to make a better, longer lasting version of the same thing. So you make sure your version doesn’t get replaced with something better, and then the customer is forced to come back to you if they want something that fits - and you sell more units. Success depends on making a product that is cheap, and that can’t easily be improved upon. In 1946, mortice lock manufacturers agreed upon certain industry standards that applied to locks for wooden doors. In many cases, if you needed to replace a lock, you could fit a different lock manufactured by someone else with the minimum of fuss. That doesn’t apply to uPVC doors.

There are hundreds of different locking mechanisms manufactured, and no two of them are the same. As with any difficult problem, the challenge lies in identifying options. As the saying goes, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat”. If you have a uPVC door that has stopped working, and had previously been trouble-free for more than ten years, it is possible that the locking system is now obsolete and unavailable. You have at least two options available: either replace the entire door, or find a uPVC lock specialist like PPM Locksmiths that can fit an improved locking mechanism for a fraction of the cost of a new door. For most of the basic systems there is no direct replacement now available, but we are able to identify the most suitable match for your door from the range of improved locking mechanisms.

As approved company members of the Master Locksmiths Association, we regard the security of our customers as our prime concern. If the direct replacement for your broken or worn out door mechanism happens to be very basic, low security, we will advise you that this is the case, and recommend that you upgrade to an alternative version. Almost every door is different from the rest, but in nearly every circumstance, we can improve your security to a more acceptable level. Even if there is nothing mechanically wrong with your uPVC locking mechanism, some systems are just not good enough to be used on an external door. The original 1980 BS3621 specification applied to 5-lever mortice locks that were then insurance-approved. Many double glazing companies capitalised on the confusion in customers’ minds about this, and sold the 5-point locking mechanisms as if they were insurance-approved, but these mechanisms do not meet BS3621.

The security requirements for uPVC depend greatly on individual insurance companies, but as a general guide, if you don’t have hooks that swivel out, or bolts that extend out into the frame, your door may not be secure. The rollers on their own are not really enough. If you have doubts about your door, try going through the motions to lock the door while the door is in the open position - that will show you how the mechanism operates, and you should be able to distinguish the hooks and rollers on the edge of the door. Please call us if you want some pointers. We will happy to advise you without further obligation.

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PPM Locksmiths Ltd 7 Dominions Arcade Queen Street Cardiff - Phone 029-20231717