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Top Experts Answer- The Most Urgent Home Security Questions

Keeping your home safe is often a tedious yet necessary task that most homeowners must deal with if they are to protect themselves from outside intruders. Redfin sought out home security experts to answer the most pressing questions homeowners are searching for, to get you one step closer to finding the perfect solution for your home!

Find their answers below:

How often & when should you change your locks?

Your locks should be changed whenever you move into a new home or anytime you suspect someone you don’t know/trust may have access to your home.

Unlike a forcible break-in, someone with a copy of your key can come and go undetected until you either notice missing items or, worse, discover and confront them in your home.

One way to change your locks is to have them re-keyed—changing the inside pinning so the old key no longer works and a new, differently cut key will work. Another way is to replace the locks entirely so the key for the old locks won’t fit in the keyhole.

There are options for upgrading the security level of your existing locks and brands and security levels can vary. Tell your locksmith what you want to achieve and ask for your options. – Discount – Locksmith

What factors should I consider when shopping for a smart lock?

There are many benefits to a smart lock, like having packages placed inside and not exposed to “porch pirates,” letting in guests, not needing to hire a locksmith to change locks, etc. But the benefits should never compromise the security of a lock. Pay attention to battery life, wireless connectivity, manufacturing quality, and multiple device risk (more connections increase the risk exposure). A smart lock adds convenience without compromising its primary purpose: security.

A smart lock without video is blind. Pin codes, e-keys, and remote unlocking based on text messages are convenient, but leave room for hackers to procure private information and falsify their identity. A live video assures to know precisely who your visitors are, who may be accompanying them, and who is leaving and when.

As you research, you’ll discover that some smart locks come with wifi connectivity and others don’t. Does it matter?

Yes;  if your lock is not wifi-enabled, the manufacturer won’t be able to update your device with important software and firmware updates. You’re essentially buying a dead-end device. – Get Gate

What is your recommendation for home security in rural versus urban areas?

Whether you have a home in an urban or rural area, it’s important to remember that home security is a must.

If you have a home in an urban environment, you’ll experience a sizable amount of foot traffic, which means more potential burglars. As such, take an extra level of precaution by using higher security locks than you would if your home were not in a city or town.

Additionally, a security window film will make your windows more difficult to break, requiring potential intruders to hit your window harder and more frequently than unprotected windows. This gives you more time to be alerted to their presence and also encourages them to give up and leave. Finally, a video doorbell provides great protection against package thieves.

In rural areas, you won’t have nearly as much foot traffic near your home. Nevertheless, your home will feel more secure with the addition of motion-activated lights and a gated driveway. While the former will alert you to any possible intruders and also serve to deter them, the latter will give you complete control over who enters and exits your driveway.

Regardless of where you live, make sure that all of the locks on your doors and windows are inspected and, if necessary, replaced by a professional. This will ensure that you have the right level of protection for your security needs. – Elite Locksmith

How do you spot locksmith fraud?

Who you choose to invite into your home is a serious decision. Locksmiths become aware of personal information such as where you live, how to enter your house, and where you keep your safe. We know you are entrusting us with your safety and personal information, so we want you to choose a reputable company.

Consumers should:

  • Do research ahead of time. Call around, check reviews, and get their business license, locksmith license, and insurance information.
  • Get a quote upfront and if the scope of work changes on-site, agree on pricing before allowing them to proceed.
  • If you feel uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to call the police.
  • Get a receipt when the job is completed.

Most locksmiths agree that red flags are:

  • No upfront pricing or super low pricing upfront
  • Non-work vehicle (e.g. unmarked sedan)
  • No business name on invoices
  • No insurance
  • No uniform
  • Bait and switch pricing (a larger-than-advertised bill once the job is done)
  • The locksmith immediately resorts to drilling the lock –  1800 Unlocks

Should you change the locks after buying a house?

Yes! When moving into a new home the first thing you want to do is replace the old locks and ensure you’re the only one in control at the moment, the past no longer affects you. Don’t wait for the old gardener to reappear in your backyard to realize you’re not the only one with a key.

Is there a common security routine required when moving to a new home?

To put it bluntly – no! The best solution is just to ask a certified locksmith to replace all of your locks and refine your security systems so no one else has the code. – Quickly Miami Locksmith

What are the hardest locks to pick/Bump keys?

Lock bumping is when someone uses a specially made “bump key” to unlock and break a lock. Unfortunately, almost every tumbler lock is vulnerable to this method of lockpicking.

Based on my personal experience as a locksmith, the hardest locks to pick or bump are:

  • High-security locks
  • Commercial-grade locks
  • Kwikset smart key locks
  • Schlage locks G1-G3

High-security locks are made with complex and highly specialized key configurations that make standard tools and approaches to lockpicking or bumping almost useless.

Commercial-grade locks are 6-pin tumbler cylinder locks which make them very difficult to compromise.

When it comes to residential deadbolts, there are two main companies in the market—Schlage, and Kwikset. Although they are not the only companies out there, Schlage and Kwikset make the standard deadbolt locks and the most common locks being sold in the local hardware stores. Therefore, the hardest-to-pick and bump-proof locks I ever came across during an emergency lockout call are; “Kwikset smart key” locks and Schlage deadbolt rated G3-G1*.

*G1-G5 ANSI rating – G rating defines the security level of the locks, in terms of the resistance level to picking the material the locks are made of.

Overall, G1-rated locks are the top secure locks and G5 are the weakest locks. Most common residential locks sold in hardware stores are rated G3, G2 & G1. – MDM Locksmith

How to choose a home security system?

There are four factors you should consider before deciding which security system best suits your home:

1. Which type of monitoring device you need:

  • Landline – While it is the cheapest option, it is also the most susceptible to tampering. It’s best used in remote areas.
  • Broadband – This connection is much safer than a landline, although if your internet is down then your security system is as well.
  • Cellular – The fastest and easiest to install, cellular systems are not susceptible to tampering but are the most costly of the group.

2. Installation Process

You have the option of employing professionals to install your home security system or going the DIY route. If you elect to have your security system installed by professionals, you can continue to go about your day while it is installed. The drawback here is that there may be a fee for the service.

If you decide to do the installation yourself, the company will give instructions as to how to do so. If you run into an issue, you can always request a professional be sent out to assist you.

3. Technology

Home automation is the new wave as its features give you convenience and control.

However, to have access to this control, you will typically have to purchase a larger package from the home security company. If you are not ready for the upgrade, ensure your security system has all the capabilities you will need in the future.

4. Price

When choosing a specific home security system, consider the following fees: installation, monthly fee, service fee, relocation fee, and cancelation fee. Prices will vary by company and package, so it’s wise to compare different companies’ prices to decide where best to spend your money. – Blue Light Alarm

What’s better, a wired or wireless house alarm system?

There are two different types of equipment and monitoring for home security systems: wired and wireless. Security systems that use wired equipment are hardwired into a home’s electrical system. However, security systems that use wireless equipment and monitoring are becoming more popular because of their flexibility to install, use, upgrade, and move.

A  wireless home security system uses sensors throughout the home that communicate wirelessly with the control panel, using radiofrequency technology. The control panel will then communicate to the outside world using a cellular uplink.

On the other hand, a hardwired alarm system connects sensors to the control panel with a network of wires (concealed within the walls and floors of your home) and then to the outside world using your home’s telephone line.

While a wired system is more reliable, costs less, and doesn’t have batteries,  it becomes useless during a power outage.

Wireless systems give you more options, including home automation, and don’t require the use of your power grid or landline. Wireless systems continue to protect your home when the lights go out, but you need to change their batteries and the signal may be interrupted, causing false alarms. – I Smart Safe

How many motion sensors do I need in my house?

The typical home requires 1-2 motion sensors. For these to be effective, they should be professionally installed.

Motion sensors are intelligent interior traps designed to detect and alert you of movement but they don’t cover every square foot of interior space. Before you can determine how many you need in your home, you will need to determine the type of motion sensor that best suits your needs.

Types of motion sensors:

  • Wireless PIR (passive infrared) senses temperature, and movement/differences like people.
  • Pet-immune motion sensor.
  • Dual technology motion sensors combine PIR & Doppler technology (which detects air movement). This type of motion sensor is used for harsher environments such as sunrooms & garages. – Absolute Security Alarms

Do I need window sensors on every window? How to determine the right number for your home?

Most of the time, it is not necessary to place a sensor on every window in your home. You typically only need window sensors on basement-level and first-floor windows, as those are the most common break-in entry points.

In some cases, it’s preferable to use a motion sensor or a glass break sensor instead of a window sensor. For example, if you wish to secure a room that has multiple windows, you may choose to place one glass break sensor instead of several window sensors. A motion sensor can detect an intruder moving in its vicinity. This means you know when an intruder is in your home—whether they entered by opening or breaking a window, or simply walked through an unsecured door.  – FrontPoint Security

What is a contact sensor? How do you determine the right number of contact sensors for your home?

A contact sensor is a device that indicates whether something is open or closed. The most important doors in your home to protect are outside ground-level doors.

In most cases, a contact sensor is used to monitor a door or window but they can be used for other purposes as well. A sensor usually has two pieces: one piece houses a transmitter to send signals to the security system and two pieces of metal surrounded by a glass tube called a “reed switch,” while the other piece houses a magnet. When the magnet is placed near the transmitter, one metal piece is drawn close to the other one, closing the circuit which indicates a “closed” condition. When the magnet moves away from the switch, the metal pieces move apart, opening the circuit which indicates an “open” condition. You install one piece of the sensor on the door frame and the other on the door itself. When the door is closed, the magnet and switch are near each other and the sensor reports that it is “closed,” but when the door opens, the magnet and switch are separated and the sensor reports that it is “open.” So, when the system is armed, the opening of a window or door will send a signal to the panel, setting off the alarm.

First, do a quick count of all the doors and windows you’d like to protect in your home. Protecting all outside doors is essential for a home security system as most burglars will come through a door instead of a window. The second step is to go beyond the security of your home and consider anything you want to monitor inside your home such as the jewelry box, or a gun safe. The more sensors you install, the more information you have to keep your home and family safe! – Mountain Alarm

How do motion sensors for outdoor lighting work? How should you determine if your home should have one?

Motion sensors for outdoor lighting are a great way to deter unwanted guests on your property while also alerting you of their presence. Motion sensors work by detecting infrared waves, sensing motion in any direction over a given range. They work best in detecting warmer objects such as people, animals, or vehicles. When motion is detected the light turns on for a set period.

Other types of motion sensors can be set up to activate video cameras, take still images, and alert your security panel to trigger an alarm. If you have entrances, windows, or areas around your home that are out of sight or not well-lit, installing motion sensors with outdoor lighting is an ideal way better to protect your home, property, and family. – Link Interactive

How safe is a wireless home security system? Can it be hacked?

Years ago, the only way to install devices for security was to drill through walls. This required a lot of time and could cause water damage to the home.

Today, wireless technology has emerged as the answer. Wireless security systems can even integrate lighting, thermostats, locks, and garage doors to control right from your phone. These features utilize a GSM module for control.  As a cellular communicator sends the signals, there’s no need to worry about phone lines going out for extended periods.

Whether this system is susceptible to hacking depends on the equipment, proper installation, and most importantly, the company supporting it.

However, DIY systems have become available to the public through retail and mail orders. They are normally lower in cost than a professionally installed security system but lack many of the important capabilities and safeguards. Transmitting a signal for help is crucial for any alarm system. Many DIY systems depend upon the internet for communication. A lapse or interruption of internet service will stop a signal from being sent. Standard internet service is also susceptible to being hacked. – Pass Security

What is the benefit of a security system that automatically calls the police versus one that does not?

Life is unpredictable and break-ins, gas leaks, fires, and medical emergencies do not care if you’re able to dial 911. That’s what a UL-certified monitoring station is for. In case of situations when you can’t get to your phone or tablet in time or you aren’t home to handle the situation yourself, these systems call the emergency contact list in the order specified and the necessary authorities prevent loss and damage.

Having a security system that is monitored 24 hours a day does not mean that you should not have safety measures and emergency evacuation plans in place, it simply means that you are not alone when the unthinkable happens. – Ackerman Security

Should I display window decals and a yard sign?

Yard signs are a great deterrent for passing cars or people to see.

Window decals, on the other hand, are great for when a person is up close to the house. You should have a decal near the front door as a reminder that security cameras are recording. You should position one on the garage window to inform potential intruders that breaking in is not a good idea.

There is a greater benefit to having yard signs and window decals than not having them as you are less likely to experience an intruder breaking into your home.  – Orange Security

How important are outdoor sirens?

All Ring security cameras feature a siren to scare off intruders. If a Ring user answers a Ring Motion Alert on their phone, for example, and they see an unknown person on their property, they can speak with them through the Cam, and even set off the siren to scare them off the property.

Sirens are important because they can alert both homeowners and neighbors to a break-in, whether it takes place while you’re asleep or out of the house. It also lets the burglar know that both you and your neighbors are aware of their presence and that the police are likely on their way. No home wouldn’t be made safer by the presence of an outdoor siren. – Ring

How important is a home security system with audio vs one without it?

This will largely depend on how you intend to use this capability. Having security cameras that are capable of recording audio can be great for monitoring people who come to your door. They can also prove beneficial if someone unlawfully enters your home. However, you do need to know and understand your local wiretap laws as these laws will vary from state to state, and depending on how you intend to use the recordings you could potentially be breaking the law.

Having audio, cameras in your home is generally acceptable and you usually would not be breaking any laws if you are not doing anything with the recordings. The trouble comes when you share the recordings or try to use information gathered from the recordings. In most states, a person who enters a private residence unlawfully forfeits any right to privacy.  However, in most other circumstances where you intend to share or use information gathered from these recordings, you must have written consent of the individuals being recorded prior to recording them. So, you will want to take this into account when deciding if having a security system with audio is right for you. – Montavue

What are the best entry door locks?

Most locks can be broken down into either low or high-security locks. Your need for each is going to be determined by the location of your home as well as how much you’re willing or able to pay for the lock.

Our two favorite low-security locks are Kwikset’s SmartKey and the Schlage deadbolt. The former is an excellent lock because it is both affordable and nearly pick-proof. Not only that but you can also easily rekey the lock on your own without needing to call a professional to do it for you. Meanwhile, the Schlage lock provides a sturdy, hard-to-pick lock at a good price.

When it comes to high-security locks, two of the best options on the market are the deadbolts made by Mul-T-Lock and Medeco.- A Lenny Locksmith

What are the best places to place indoor cameras throughout your home?  

The best places to place indoor cameras in your home are those places where you have the highest chance of catching an intruder red-handed.

  • Front and rear doors are the most likely entry point for burglars, so make sure you have indoor cameras pointed in that direction. If any of these cameras detect motion when nobody is home, you can get a notification on your mobile device along with a snapshot or video clip. You can then call law enforcement if required.
  • Windows are the other potential entry method for burglars—place cameras to cover windows that are not easily visible from the street.
  • Garage doors:  if you park vehicles there or if they lead to the inside of the house.

Visible indoor cameras can also serve as an effective deterrent. But there is a risk that a burglar may try to destroy or steal your camera before retreating. Good hiding spots for cameras are empty sections of bookcases, shelving units, or any other place where the camera can easily blend in. Even if a burglar manages to get away, there is a good chance that at least one of your strategically placed cameras would capture some identifying features that the police can use. – Vueville

For more security and safety tips please keep visiting MdM blog.

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