As most of you now know, there have been about 12 break-ins in Sun City in the past year. These have been daylight events where the front door was forced open and money and jewelry were taken. In an earlier column we suggested that the short screws holding the latch plate to the doorjamb be replaced with three-inch screws that will secure it to the door frame structure. While researching this article, I noted Ace Hardware on Route #47 has those screws on the counter at the register, so you can buy just the two or three that you need.
Another break-in vulnerability is the window alongside the front door. On the following models: Erie, Michigan, Superior, Huron, Ontario, Buckingham, Dearborn, and others, there is a double pane window the full height of the door. Since the deadbolt on the doors of these houses is a single cylinder, i.e. there is no key lock on the inside, a burglar can break the window, reach in and turn the knob on the deadbolt to open the door.
There is an easy fix for this potential problem. The answer is a double cylinder lock. This means there is a keyed cylinder on each side of the lock: one inside and one outside. If someone were to break the window to reach the deadbolt, he would find there is no knob on it, and the key is not in the lock, so the door can’t be opened.
Caution: for safety reasons, you need to put a cup hook on or near the door in a position that can’t be reached from the window and always hang the key there when it is not in the lock. This could be on the side of the door away from the window if there is only a window on one side, or high or low on the door if there are windows on both sides of the door. Whenever you are in the house, the key should be in the lock so you can quickly escape in case of a fire, and a second key should be on the hook.
Ideally, you will want this double cylinder deadbolt to be keyed the same as all the other locks in your home so your old keys still work on all the door locks. Most Del Webb Sun City houses (pre-Pulte) have Weiser brand locks. These are not common in the hardware stores nearby.
What started out as a rather simple solution turned into a lengthy saga of trial and error and Internet and phone research. Don’t give up on me; in the end, the solution is very simple, but I need to explain how I arrived there. I learned from my research that the new Weiser locks have a feature called “Smart Key.” With that feature, you can make the new lock work with your old keys in about two minutes with no tools. The lock can be installed in your door in another 10 minutes. It is held bolted together with two stout screws on the inside of the lock. If you have enough skill to make toast, you can install this lock.
The nearest store that carries Weiser locks is located in Batavia, about 25 miles away. I checked at our local Ace Hardware store, and Doug, the manager, was able to order a Weiser lock for me. When I got it, I tried my current key to see if it went into the keyway. It would not. It was too thick. I went back to Ace to see Doug. He noticed that the key that came with the new Weiser lock was a KW blank, which means it is for a KwikSet lock. The Weiser lock has a WR key blank.
I found that a KwikSet key will work in a Weiser lock, so I went back to Ace to cut my Weiser key into a KwikSet key blank. With the smart key feature, I changed the new Weiser lock to work with my new KwikSet key. I managed to get the lock to not work with either of the keys I had.
I called the Weiser customer service number and explained my problem. I was told that Stanley had bought both Weiser and KwikSet lock companies and was using the KwikSet lock in both brands now. He asked for the numbers on the original Weiser key, and because there were two nines in the sequence, he said the pins were lifted too high inside the lock and it was toast. He said you should not try using a KwikSet key in a Weiser lock, and you should never cut a Weiser key into a KwikSet blank, contrary to what I found on the Internet.
Now for the simple solution I promised. Buy a Schlage dual cylinder lock (keyed on both sides). It can be installed in five minutes with a phillips head screwdriver. You will be changing the lock section as well as the deadbolt that mounts in the edge of the door. Don’t forget to twist the deadbolt 180 degrees to adjust it for your 2 and 3/4-inch thick door as per the instructions. To see how simple the deadbolt is to install, here is a link to the deadbolt installation instructions:
You will not be able to key your new deadbolt to your other door lock, but that is only a small inconvenience. If it is really important to have one key to open both of your doors, you can buy a combo pack, which has the locking handle lock set to replace the one on your door to the garage for about $20 more than the dual cylinder deadbolt.
Some towns have prohibitions against double cylinder locks because if the key is not kept on the door where it can be found to get out in case of a fire, there could be a tragedy. We checked and Huntley has no such prohibition. Be sure that you keep the key in a position where it can be easily found, and always keep the key in the lock when you are in the house.
Part two of this article will follow in the next issue and will cover the Pulte built Sun City homes.
Lighted house number
Another item you can pick up at Ace are the special bulbs used in the lighted numbers on your house. These are not standard bulbs, but our local Ace does carry them for Sun City. They sell about 200 a month.
If you have suggestions for future tips or have questions about maintenance around your home, submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org.