DIY Locks for Temporary Security
Locks have long been considered the best method for securing a door. But if a lock fails, if the door doesn’t have a lock, or if you don’t trust the current lock in an apartment or condo, you may want to take steps to ensure that the door and the home are secured.
While the best fix is simply installing, rekeying, repairing, or replacing a lock, the following 10 methods share how to secure a door closed without a lock. Each are quick, temporary solutions that can help you get a good night's sleep while you wait for the locksmith to show up in the morning.
Doorstops are typically used to prevent doors from closing, but when a doorstop is placed behind an inward opening door this simple product physically prevents the door from being opened, even if the doorknob can be turned. It’s a simple, effective method to help secure the home when the door lock is broken. However, it will not work on outward opening doors and with enough force, an intruder could manage to bypass the doorstop. Consider employing an additional method on this list for increased security.
Related: 4 Fixes for When a Door Won't Latch
Back of a Chair
Sturdy chairs can be a good choice to keep a door closed because they can be angled to fit the top of the chair under the door handle while the feet are firmly planted against the ground. This creates pressure between the door and the floor along the back and legs of the chair, preventing the door from opening. The back of the chair also can block lever-style door handles from opening downwards. If the handle also can be turned upwards to open the door, then this method isn’t as useful. In this case, it may be a good idea to use a belt or rope to tie the lever handle to the chair, preventing it from opening downwards or upwards.
Belt or Rope
Lever-style door handles tend to be easier to lock than doorknobs because a belt or rope can be used to restrain the physical movement of the handle. Just attach one end of the belt or rope to the handle and the other to a fixed object. Consider using two tethers to completely prevent movement when the handle can open both upwards and downwards.
A belt or piece of rope also is a good option for securing an outward opening door because the tether can be attached to a heavy object, like a refrigerator or couch. For French doors, wrap both handles with the tether, blocking them from opening.
Portable Door Lock
These helpful devices are great for renters and travelers who cannot install more permanent solutions. As the name suggests, a portable door lock is designed to be used and removed as necessary. They typically consist of a metal piece, sometimes referred to as a claw, that fits over the bolt or latch on the existing doorknob and a lock that fits into the claw to prevent the door from opening. However, these locks are not effective for outwardly opening doors.
For better protection against significant force, like an intruder attempting to kick down a door or break it down with their shoulder, security bars can help. Security bars or barricades consist of a pair of heavy-duty brackets that are fastened to the wall or door frame, depending on the product. A thick metal or wood bar then sits in the brackets blocking the entire width of the door. This security bar can be lifted up and out of the brackets when you need to use the door and can quickly be replaced afterward with very little effort. Security bars are not effective at securing outwardly opening doors.
In a pinch, a simple fork can be used to temporarily lock a door that inwardly opens. To secure the door, bend the tines of the fork so that the tips of the tines fit into the door latch and the rest of the fork can comfortably remain in the gap between the door and the doorframe when the door is closed. Open the door and remove the fork, then break off the handle of the fork. Place the head of the fork back into the door latch as before, making sure that the bent tines are securely hooked to the door latch, then close the door. With the door closed, slide the handle of the fork through the tines, creating a horizontal barrier that prevents the door from opening inwards.
A door jammer is a simple alternative to DIY solutions for locking a door without a lock. These tools typically consist of a height-adjustable security bar with a rounded end designed to fit snugly under a doorknob or door handle. The other end has a padded foot that is made to sit flat on the floor and resist sliding, creating a system that puts pressure on the floor if someone attempts to open the door inwards.
Floor barricades are made up of two pieces: a base and a brace that can fit into or be removed from the base. Install a floor barricade by inserting screws through the base and into the floor. The door should still be able to open over the top of the base so that it can be used freely when the brace is removed. When you want to lock the door, just insert the brace and it will prevent the door from opening inwards. Using a floor barricade is a good choice for people who can modify the home, but it isn’t an option for renters and travelers.
Remove Door Handle
While this isn’t the best option to keep the door secure, removing the door handle entirely does present a challenge for anyone trying to gain access to the home. Without a handle, the door cannot be opened in the traditional sense, though anyone interested in using this method should keep in mind that with enough effort and one or more makeshift tools, the door mechanism can be turned even without a handle. It may be best to pair this option with another temporary door lock, such as a doorstop or even a barricade.
Strike Plate Lock
A strike plate lock is a small device that can be mounted to the door frame where the strike plate lock is affixed. It works similarly to a standard door chain except that the strike plate lock has a metal loop that slips over the door handle to prevent the door from opening. This method is more secure than relying on a set of screws on the back of a door to keep the door secured against break-ins. Also, users can install a strike plate lock using the existing strike plate screw holes to prevent further damage to the door frame.
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