A Locksmith’s Best Advice For Keeping Your Home Safe

Locksmiths know a lot about home security. Here is some of their best advice.

Keep your home safe from unwanted intruders with these secrets a locksmith won’t tell you. Read on to learn trade secrets from a locksmith.

Beware of Scam Artists

Many locksmiths in the phone book or online are scam artists. They’ll quote you a great price, but when they get there they’ll say you have a special lock they can’t pick, so they have to drill it open. Then they’ll charge you extra for a replacement lock you can buy at The Home Depot for much less.

Find Reputable Locksmiths

Don’t want to get scammed? The good news is that there is a simple way to check a locksmith’s credibility. Find someone reputable at findalocksmith.com, the official website of the Associated Locksmiths of America.

Go for High Grade

It’s easy to defeat the cheapo locks from big-box stores. Most are mass-produced by reputable manufacturers and made to really low standards. Look for at least a Grade Two lock.

Domestic locked doorKM6064/Getty Images

The Best Lock

The best lock is a deadbolt that’s properly installed. It should have at least a one-inch “throw.” On the “strike side” there should be a security plate with screws at least three inches long that go all the way into the door’s wood frame.

Get a Double Cylinder Lock

If you have a window on or near your door, a thumb-turn deadbolt won’t do much good. It’s too easy to just knock out the glass, stick a hand in and turn the lock. If your door is near a window, get a double cylinder lock that needs a key on the inside.

Don’t Trust “Do Not Duplicate”

Keys stamped “Do not duplicate” are duplicated all the time. If you’re concerned, look into high-security locks with keys that can’t be replicated at the hardware store.


Before simply assuming you’re locked out of your home, at least check the door. There’s no easier job for a locksmith than going to a house to unlock a door and finding it already open (and they’re still going to charge you for the service call.)

Simple Solutions

If your key won’t turn, try WD-40 or silicone spray. Sometimes the pins get jammed up, and 25 to 40 percent of the time that solves the problem.

Don’t Buy a Locked Safe

Think twice before you buy a locked safe at a flea market, estate sale or auction. It’s probably going to cost you $300 or more to open it, and chances are all you’re going to find is mouse poop.

police cop car the lawSchmidt Alex/Shutterstock

Rekey a New Home

When you buy a new house, always have your locks rekeyed. Otherwise there’s probably a master key out there that can easily open your home.

Don’t Spin the Dial Too Fast

Sometimes, people call a locksmith thinking they’ve been locked out of their safe. The reality is they’re making a simple, but big mistake when trying to open it: Spinning the dial too fast, trying to open it before it’s unlocked, and forcing it closed when there’s obviously a problem.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest