6 Easy Home Security Improvement Projects

As a homeowner, keeping your home and the people who live there secure and safe is a top priority. Expensive security services can help deter thieves and keep your home safe, but there are also a number of inexpensive and simple steps you yourself can take to improve your home’s security.

The majority of burglars enter through the front door, the first-floor windows, or the back door. Securing these points of entry, even using simple methods, can deter a thief or delay them long enough to alert the authorities. Here are just a few ways to make these places secure:

Make your dead bolts pick-proof. Any thief with a hairpin and some patience can pick a lock, so to keep your home safe you need to make sure the dead bolt is firmly in place and cannot be turned. For dead bolts that lock in the vertical position, replace one of the dead bolt screws with the SIMLock (only $10, and easy to install) to keep the deadbolt firmly in place and keep it from turning.

Install inexpensive alarms on your doors and windows. Wireless alarms, available at home centers and online, are activated by doors or windows opening. Even a small alarm is noisy enough to drive away a burglar. These alarms attach to a door or window alongside the magnetic contact strip (within ½ inch of the strip), and when the door is open, the magnetic contact is interrupted, causing the alarm to shriek. The delay feature on the alarm allows you to leave after setting it, and deactivate after opening the door once you’re home.

Secure your patio doors. Patio door locks are among the easiest to pick. Installing an auxiliary foot lock along the bottom of a patio door, or a door top lock at the top, can supplement a weak built-in lock. Both of these locks can be installed in about 10 minutes, and cost about $25 each.

Reinforce the strike plate on your entry door. Adding a heavy duty strike plate and extra-long screws to your door jamb will help it withstand being kicked in by a burglar. Strike plate-reinforcing hardware usually costs $5-$10 at home improvement stores, but if your dead bolt is newer than 10 years old then chances are it’s been reinforced already. You can check by removing the strike plate: a reinforced strike plate is heavy steel with at least 3-in screws.

Reinforce the wooden entry door to your garage. The weak center panels in an old wooden garage entry door are a prime target for thieves, who can easily kick them in. Strengthen this vulnerable spot with a ½-in plywood reinforcement panel. 2x4s in bar-holder brackets provide added reinforcement.

Install a peephole so you know who’s at your door. Most home entry ways don’t have a peephole, which raises your risk of opening the door to visitors with less than innocent motives. A wide-angle door viewer is the best way to go, providing better visibility than smaller peepholes. These are cheap and effective; one model from M.A.G. Engineering and Manufacturing Co., for instance, provides a view of 160 degrees and is available online for only $4.20. Installation is easy: just drill a hole from each side, and screw the viewer in.

These are just a few of the many ways you can amp up your home’s security and make sure that your family and property remain safe. Home security doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated, but it does need to work, so don’t ignore this important aspect of home ownership.