11 Ways To Never Get Locked Out of Your House Again
From high-tech to old school, here are some ways to help you avoid the stress and frustration of home lockouts.
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Install a Smart Lock
A smart lock is a keyless mode of entry that connects via Bluetooth to your cellphone or other mobile devices. Physical keys can be easily lost or stolen, but smart locks can:
- Open doors to friends and family even when you’re not there;
- Track and record who’s entered your home and when;
- Give house guests and workers temporary access;
- Change a passcode at a moment’s notice.
Fitting with your existing deadbolt, the August WiFi (4th Generation) Smart Lock is easy to install and works with many types of voice assistants (Alexa, Google, Siri and more).
Upgrade to an Electronic Combination Lock
Another keyless option, digital combination locks work like an ATM — you enter a series of numbers that lock and unlock the door. It’s a lower-tech fix that doesn’t require a WiFi connection. Most of these locks are hard-wired, although some battery-operated models are available.
The OrangeIOT Keyless Entry Deadbolt Lock is one such battery-powered lock with an illuminated keypad. It’s easy to install and comes with security options like an auto-lock feature that engages in 99 seconds, and a mechanical key override for extra backup.
Install a Fingerprint Scanner Door Lock
Biometric keyless locks (AKA finger scans) read and react to a unique, authorized fingerprint. It’s a one-in-a-million way to identify a person, and fingerprint scanners are relatively hack-proof. Most scanner locks can be programmed to recognize multiple fingerprints.
A good choice is the Lockly Secure Pro WiFi Smart Lock. It opens your doors with the fingerprint reader, a pin keypad or remotely through your smartphone.
Switch to a Deadbolt
Has this ever happened to you? At the moment you realize you left your keys lying on the kitchen table, the door slams and automatically locks behind you!
To avoid this nightmare scenario, replace your standard entrance-style lock with a single-cylinder deadbolt. Not only is this super secure but it can only be locked from the outside WITH a key.
Earning a 4.7-star rating on Amazon with more than 3,800 reviews the Schlage Single Cylinder Deadbolt comes in 12 finishes.
Hang Up a Lock Box
Real agents have relied on lock boxes for years. They’re a portable way to permit access to your property without putting too many sets of keys in circulation around town.
It’s an ideal temporary fix to let in a housekeeper or service provider while you’re at work or away. They don’t need to be installed, and combinations can be reset if you suspect a breach.
Greg Wilson, a landlord for 22 years and owner of ChaChingQueen.com, offers a creative twist to this approach. Instead of putting the lock box on the front door, he hangs it on his backyard shed. “That way our house doesn’t look silly having a lock box on it and I don’t need to buy a lock for the shed,” he says.
The sturdy, solid zinc Master Lock 5414D Heavy Duty Key Lock Box can store up to five standard keys, fobs or key cards at a time.
Hide a Key
If done correctly, hiding an extra key where you can access it easily can be one of the simplest ways to avoid a lockout.
Store-bought containers that conceal keys come in various shapes and styles, from lawn gnomes to faux rocks to fake dog poop. We recommend something a little less “cliché,” like the well-camouflaged Sprinkler Key Holder by Trademark Global, Inc. It’s actually a real sprinkler head that installs in the ground, and you access the key via the screw top. Ingenious.
Pro tip: Place the faux sprinkler in an inconspicuous spot in the yard where no one can see you retrieve it.
Here’s another key-hiding strategy from Arie Van Tuijl, owner of Home Inspector Secrets, a home maintenance blog: “Use a silicone cable tie to secure a spare house key (and spare car key) somewhere underneath the car.” Van Tuijl says it’s less likely to fall off when driving than magnetic key cases.
“These cable ties have a strong inner steel-core and an outer silicone sheath,” Van Tuijl says. “And since they’re so flexible, they are easy to loop the tie through the keys and secure to almost anything under the car.” When you need to retrieve the key, says Van Tuijl, “the cable tie can be removed in a few seconds.”
Give an Extra Set of Keys to a Neighbor
One low-tech way to increase the chances of getting into your house if you lock yourself out: Enlist a friendly and trustworthy neighbor to be your key buddy. If you have another ally living nearby, consider giving them a set as well in case the first neighbor is out of town. Be a good egg and offer to reciprocate.
Mark your keys clearly with Uniclife Colorful Key Tags (20 Pack). Made of tough, see-through plastic, they come with removable write-on tags for easy identification.
Pro tip: Never write your name or address on the tag. Instead, come up with a code name in case the keys fall into the wrong hands.
MARIIA KALINICHENKO/GETTY IMAGES
Keep a Locksmith on Speed Dial
If you’re the kind of person who habitually forgets or loses keys, you could really benefit from a close and personal relationship with your friendly neighborhood locksmith. Working out a deal with one ahead of lockout emergencies may not only get you into your house faster, but could save you money. Many companies offer loyal customers discounts.
Maintain or Replace Old Locks
Getting locked out of the house isn’t always a function of absentmindedness. Locks, like most things with moving parts, eventually wear out or rust. They’ll become stiff and difficult to turn, then stop working at the most inopportune times.
To properly maintain your locks, periodically spray the keyhole with a product like WD-40 Three-in-One Lock Dry Lube. After applying, insert the key and twist it a couple of times to work in the lube.
You could also play it safe and replace an old lock with a brand-spanking-new one. Enlist a professional locksmith to install it or do it yourself. It’s pretty easy.
Buy a Phone Case Key Holder
While it’s not so unusual for people to misplace keys, it’s rare they’ll leave their cell phones behind. A phone case like the Hoblaze Phone Card Holder is a stick-on mini-wallet with a convenient and stretchy outer pocket that holds an extra house key. Should the unthinkable happen, you’re “covered.”
Run a Quick Key Check
This may seem like a no-brainer, but before leaving the house, get into the habit of quickly checking that your keys are on your person. Even if you’re in a hurry, it only takes a nanosecond to avoid the front-stoop “sit of shame.”
If you own an iPhone, Marina Vaamonde, owner and founder of HouseCashin, recommends putting an AirTag on your keychain.
Here’s the trick: Set up the “notify when left behind” setting on your phone. Once the AirTag is enabled to Find My App, Vaamonde says “it will let you know immediately if your phone and AirTag are separated.”
Vaamonde recommends keeping your keys far from your door because, ideally, “you want your phone to buzz and tell you that you forgot your keys as you’re exiting your home, rather than after. This way, you’ll never forget your keys before you leave the home because your phone will ping before you exit thanks to the attached AirTag.”