Now that the ink is dried and escrow has finally closed, you’ve been busy preparing your new home for move-in. Along with new paint and repairs, there are a number of home security tips to consider before the big move-in day. Check out this list of home security tips for new homeowners.
Home security tips for new homeowners #1
Starting with the exterior of your new home, check landscaping in the front, back and side yards. If you have large trees that hang near the roof or a second level, keep these trimmed over 8-feet high to discourage climbing. Trim all shrubs and bushes back to a maximum of 3-feet high. This keeps prowlers from finding a good place to hide.
If you decide to change the landscaping, plant prickly bushes such as holly, roses and creeping juniper or put gravel near windows. Thorny bushes under windows make it harder to access them and gravel under windows creates crunching noise when stepped on.
Home security tips for new homeowners #2
Lighting is one of the biggest initial deterrents for your yard. Check to see that outdoor lighting functions properly. Replace older non-functioning lights with easy-to-install solar motion lights to your side and back yards and directly over garage doors. It is great for putting a spotlight on potential crime.
Put your front porch and landscape lighting on timers or use photo sensors so lights come on and go off automatically at dusk and dawn. These are nice because you do not have to remember to turn them off or on and they save energy, too.
Indoor lighting on timers or automated controls give the impression that someone is home at night. This is much safer than a dark, uninhabited home. Simply plug the lamp into the module and set the timer. For indoor motion lights, you can quickly change out a wall switch for a new auto-sensing switch.
Home security tips for new homeowners #3
Door and lock hardware
Check all exterior doors for separation, cracks or any other damage. Consider replacing any light or hollow doors with heavy, solid-core or steel reinforced doors. Replacing doors may not be as quick and easy as other items on this list, but since doors are one of the main barriers between you and an intruder, it is time well spent.
Check that all exterior doors and locking hardware are in working order. Always re-key exterior door locks or replace them with new electronic locks. You never know who may still have keys to those doors, and chances are you don’t want to find out. Electronic locks are growing in popularity, reasonably priced and easy-to-install. They are more secure than standard locks, protecting against “lock bumping,” a technique used by burglars to unlock standard pin and tumbler door locks.
Most homes are built with basic door hardware that would not pass a “kick test.” Replace standard strike plates (where the latch connects with the doorframe) with high security strike plates and 3-inch wood screws on all exterior doors, including the door to an attached garage. Long wood screws will secure the strike plate deeper into the wooden doorframe, not just into the door molding.
Check your door hinge screws as well, if they are not at least three-inches long, consider replacing them, too. While you are doing this, make sure the hinges are on the inside of the door and not the outside, this keeps the door from being removed. If not, get some help to re-hang the door properly.
Next check the peephole. Is it wide enough for you to see the whole walkway and doorstep? Is it low enough for smaller family members to see through it? If not, replace it with a wide-angle version found in most hardware stores.
Secure patio and French doors using a 3-point locking system. Replace old hardware including loose doorknobs, old chain locks or locking devices that are hard to operate. Sliding glass door latches are not enough to secure these doors. Locks should include a top pin, key lock and the classic wooden dowel.
Home security tips for new homeowners #4
Your windows are the next area to secure. Most new windows come with good locking hardware, but as with doors, a latch is usually not sufficient. If you have sliding windows, check for a secondary pin lock to keep the window from being slid open.
If your windows do not have this, add a slide lock that goes over the track. You can even use these locks for venting to keep the window from being opened all the way. Just be sure to vent no more than three-inches or just far enough to keep a small hand from reaching through.
Secure double-hung windows with a long pin that goes through both sides of the sash to keep them from being lifted. If your windows do not have a lock and a latch, there are plenty of options for securing them including slide locks, hinged wedge locks or keyed turnbuckle locks.
Home security tips for new homeowners #5
Fire & carbon monoxide detectors
Smoke detectors save lives. When preparing your home for move-in, inspect all smoke alarms to be sure they are working properly. Replace any detectors that do not work before move-in. If the detector’s cover has yellowed, there is a good chance it is over 10 years old and needs replacing as well.
Replace any detectors that do not have the ULC stamp on it. Smoke detectors are required in hallways outside sleeping rooms, and on each floor of your home, as well as the basement. For added protection, install smoke detectors inside each sleeping room, in main living areas, except the kitchen, and in the garage if your water heater or furnace is located there.
Also, install carbon monoxide detectors in hallways outside of sleeping areas, and in garages where heaters or furnaces are located. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can go undetected in your home, but is extremely toxic and deadly. A carbon monoxide detector will alert you to high levels of this gas before it is too late. Make sure any carbon detector you install is accredited by the CSA or ULC, which meets the Canadian standards for CO detectors.
Home security tips for new homeowners #6
DIY alarm devices
DIY alarm devices can be as simple as door and window magnetic alarms that emit a high decibel siren. The alarms are triggered when someone enters. You can get a variety of easy-to-install wireless alarm devices for doors, windows, and even to alert to motion. They will not call the police for you, but their shrill siren is enough to scare away most burglars.
Lastly, if your new home already has a home security system in it, have a professional come do a security review and check the system. Many alarm companies will do this free of charge with no obligation to buy. This can give you added peace of mind since a pro may point out vulnerable areas in and around your home that you may not have previously considered.