You were living in a home where a burglar could enter as quietly and quickly as a fly through an open window. In fact a six year old child could easily defeat a lock that is not installed properly. Improperly installed deadbolts should be at the top of the deficiency list with new home buyers. Builders quite often forget or don’t realize the importance of drilling a hole deep enough in the frame to accept the bolt. Many new homes have partial holes drilled in the frame which do not allow the bolt to fully extend into the strike plate (the plate installed on the frame that accepts the bolt).
Partial holes allow the bolt to enter into the strike plate, but usually hit against the wood frame 2X4 because they are not drilled deep enough. When this occurs, an intruder could easily pry the bolt back to the open position because it has not extended far enough to engage the deadlock feature.
The remedy for this problem is simple, just dig out a little more wood on the strike plate side to allow the bolt to enter without thudding against wood. This will allow the bolt to slide into the deadlocking position. Loose screws, missing screws and wrong size screws are all associated with improper lock installation. Don’t jeopardize your security because a tradesman skimped on crucial screws to complete your homes locks.
Remove all screws from your deadbolt checking for consistency, an easy rule to follow for most deadbolts is, if there is a screw on the left side there should be a screw exactly the same on the right side. The same goes for the top and bottom of the lock.
The building code in most cities calls for 3″ screws that must be fastened through the strike plate and into the wall studding to give maximum strength to the frame. Skimpy builders are again creating a great disservice to the homebuyer by installing much shorter screws in this crucial area. This problem in most cases can only be detected if the homeowner unscrews the screws fastened to the strike plate checking for proper lengths.
Until builders and building inspectors brush up on their locking knowledge, these problems will always slip through the cracks. So as a homeowner, take heed, walk around your new home checking for the problem areasand make sure you mark them on your deficiency list.