Reasons Why You’d Need to Replace Your Door Locks

Have you ever wondered what causes people to change their locks? It seems like one of those things that you would never really need to do unless you moved into a house, right? There are actually many reasons like moving that you’d definitely want to change your locks that you may not have really thought about before.

When you had your neighbor check on your house while you were away that one time, did you ever consider that someone could have gotten a hold of that key afterward? There are many reasons that probably hadn’t crossed your mind to cause a door lock replacement and below you will find a helpful guide to make sure you didn’t neglect to do so during one of these circumstances.

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After a break-in

One of the times you may have forgotten to change your locks was in the event that your house was broken into. After a terrible event like a break-in, you handle things with the police and insurance, but did you remember to change your locks?

The burglar could have access to your home again if you don’t change your locks since they could have gotten a hold of keys or they didn’t have a problem picking your old locks. Your locks could also be damaged from the burglary, so be sure to change them considering all of the circumstances.

Changing roommates

Do you rent out a room that has seen different roommates? You need to make sure that if you share a key with someone else and that arrangement ends that you are sure to change your locks. You and current roommates are the only ones that should have access.

Moved into a new house

If you moved into a new house, you’ll definitely want to change the locks for a fresh start and to avoid the last family or anyone associated with the sale to have access to your home. Anyone from the realtor to the inspector could have been given a key and it’s important that you get a fresh lock that only your family has access to.

Your locks are old

Sometimes locks just simply age and don’t work as well anymore. It’s a good sign if you are struggling to get in the door easily and if you don’t remember the last time you changed them. Be sure to keep them changed every few years.

Lost your keys

Did you lose your keys? Even with your copy still available, you don’t know who could have found your keys and could have access to your house. It’s a good idea to get them changed.

Neighbor watched the house while on vacation

When the kind neighbor across the street watches your house from you while you’re away, you have no idea where that key ends up or if anyone else could have made a copy of it. Be sure to change your locks after trusting someone with the key.

After a renovation

Did you renovate your home recently? This means that you’ve likely had several contractors at your house working on everything from plumbing to painting, especially during hours you were away. It’s important that you keep your home safe after a renovation by changing your locks in the event that anyone was able to swipe your key. They know what you own better than anyone.

Post-divorce

If you’ve recently divorced or had a break-up, your partner likely still has access to your home. This is an important time to change those locks, in order to play it on the safe side with your security.

While moving to a new house warrants a new set of locks and keys, don’t forget about these other common situations that could warrant a home security refresher.

What to do if a key breaks inside of a lock?

The worst has happened. A key has broken inside of your lock! What do you do? Believe it or not, this situation is not uncommon. It can happen when you’ve turned the key too fast when you’re running late for work or you turn it funny when your hands are full of groceries.

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Whatever the case, you don’t need to panic in the event that your key breaks inside of a lock because that is exactly the kind of thing your local professional locksmith can help you with. Instead of trying to figure out what to do, just call a reliable locksmith in your area and they will handle it. Take a look at this guide that will go through the steps of what to do when a key breaks inside your lock.

 Call the locksmith right away

If this situation happens when you’re on your way out the door or trying to get in from being away, it will prevent you from properly locking or unlocking your door, making your home vulnerable to theft. It’s important that you call the locksmith right away to make sure you can leave your home with a secured home or lock your car instead of leaving it vulnerable to a criminal. Your broken key can damage the lock, so rather than trying to fix it yourself, you should call the locksmith to handle the situation properly.

Different scenarios you could encounter

If you find that your key is sticking out of the lock, the locksmith may be able to simply pull it out with the right tools. Since you wouldn’t be likely to have the proper tools to handle a small grab as this, a locksmith will be able to handle it and ensure there is no damage to the lock, in addition to making you a new key.

If the key isn’t sticking out, trying to remove it will definitely damage the lock. A locksmith will be able to efficiently and correctly remove it without damaging your lock. They will also be able to make you a new key and ensure you can be on your way.

Preventing this situation

While it’s easy to call your professional locksmith to help you when your key has broken inside your car or home lock, it would be smart to know how to avoid this situation in the future. It’s helpful to maintain your keys and locks by applying some lock lubrication to your keyhole when you notice any grinding or friction locking or unlocking the doors.

Your keys can simply be replaced every so often to ensure they are durable and unlikely to break. Your car locks are more susceptible during the winter season, which means that you should be extra careful to de-ice during freezing weather to avoid breaking your keys during the locking or unlocking process.

Consider these tips in the event that your key breaks inside your lock. It’s never wise to try to fix it yourself as you could damage your locks and cause a very expensive job. Call your local locksmith to make sure you handle the situation efficiently from the start and take a sigh of relief that they will have the proper tools and knowledge to handle the job for you.

How to decide if you need a camera security system

A camera security system is becoming more and more common for homeowners, but is it a good idea? You may be considering adding this to your home to improve your home security, but do you know the impact it will have? Not only do you have to consider what your goal is behind the cameras, but you’ll have to understand laws like filming restrictions. Take a look at this guide to make sure you are prepared before you have a camera security system installed in order to feel confident going into the process.

The need for a surveillance system

First, you should make sure that you have a clear reason for getting a camera security system installed. If you’re trying to protect your home from vandalism or you want to keep an eye on your home when you’re away, it can be a great form of assistance for you and your family. Perhaps you want to keep an eye on the property in the middle of the night or while you’re away on vacation. There are many reasons to have a security system aside from the help of your neighbor’s watchful eyes.

If you have a business to protect, a camera security system can be extremely helpful. You can keep one watching your inventory, watching your cash registers, or keeping an eye out for shoplifters. There are many reasons to have a security system, but it’s important that you know the implications of one discussed below.

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Things to be aware of if you have one

If you’re considering getting a system, you’ll want to make sure you can accept some of the implications of having one. For example, did you know that your cameras can’t film other people’s homes, restrooms, dressing rooms, or locker rooms?

This means that you cannot film in your office restroom or pointed in your neighbor’s house, but you are allowed to film anything that is considered a public place, such as the exterior of the neighbor’s home. You are also not allowed to gather audio from a remote recording or eavesdropping. Be careful to follow the laws of filming if you are going to get a home security system.

You’ll want to understand that you can’t only rely on your security cameras since they are all going to vary in what they can offer you. It is possible to have your cameras hacked into, but you can add security measures and change your password in the event of this situation.

You’ll also need to make sure you are spending enough to get a camera that can film clearly because a poor quality will do you no good when it’s time to show a tape to the police. Be sure to look for a high-end camera system with features like motion detection and text notifications. Work with a professional to make sure you position your cameras properly and be sure to ask about features such as weather resistance, internet options, and tech support.

If you are considering getting a camera security system, be sure that you have thought through the reasoning behind it, the laws of having one and using the footage, and the questions to ask before you buy one. Talk to a professional before adding this enhanced security feature to your home or business.

5 Home Security Tips for New Homeowners

As a new homeowner, there are many things you will be learning for the first time. One of those things will be how to keep your home and your family safe on a regular basis without it interfering too much with life. Everybody knows to lock the door when they leave and to keep an eye out for suspicious people in the neighborhood, but what else will it take to keep your home and family secure?

There are some things you may not have thought to do, such as getting to know the neighbors and changing the locks when you move in. Take a look at these five tips to get you started when it comes to new home ownership and keeping things secure.

Replace the locks

The first thing you should do when you move into a new home is to change your locks. Most likely, the previous owners still have a key somewhere as does anyone involved in selling the property to you. That means that your home is not technically secure and available only to your family.

Make sure you change your locks upon arriving at the new home to make sure no one else has access to it, such as the previous family or realtor. Then, make sure you reconfigure your garage door code.

Get a home security system

Next, you’ll want to install a home security system. Make your home less appealing to a criminal that enters the neighborhood, from the trimmed bushes allowing for a great line of sight to the motion-detecting lights, make sure no criminal will want to bother breaking into your home.

Be sure to set up your home with a trustworthy home security system that will notify you in the event that there is a security breach. Make sure to have a professional install it and remember to tell your homeowners insurance since you’ll likely receive a discount for having one installed.

Get to know your neighbors and the area

One of the simplest ways to keep your home and family safe is to get to know your neighbors and your surroundings. When you know who lives near you, it’ll be easier to spot a visitor to the area to watch for suspicious activity. You’ll also have neighbors to watch your home as you do the same for them in the event that suspicious activity is taking place.

You can even join the neighborhood watch program and volunteer to collect mail and newspapers for neighbors that go on vacation, as they can do the same for you. Then, be sure to get to know your surroundings to get familiar with what habits are normal in the neighborhood compared to the times when something new comes up. Do you always see this certain service provider and delivery truck, while that moving van or construction crew has never been here before?

Think about fire safety

In addition to security, you’ll want to think about fire safety. Make sure you’ve made a plan for home fire defense and have a fire monitoring package with your home security system. Smoke detectors throughout the house are vital, as well as fire extinguishers, and carbon monoxide detectors.

Keep up with the maintenance

Having all of these items checked off will be a great feeling, but keeping up with maintaining everything is just as important. You need to be regularly checking your outside lights, your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, your fire extinguishers, and your window locks to ensure everything is in working order.

If something isn’t functioning properly, it can be all it takes to have a breach in your safety. Make sure you are trimming the bushes, verifying your home security system is working, and things on your property meant to deter an intruder are ready to perform.

These are the top five ways that you can make sure your new home is secure and prepared in the event of a fire or home invasion.

How to Avoid Locksmith Scams

Do you worry about running into a locksmith scam next time you need to call one? You should be worried if you don’t know what to look for. Many people don’t realize that locksmith scams are common and they are easily avoidable by being informed.

This year, it’s important to know what types of scams someone may try on you so that you can notice when something doesn’t feel right. Use these tips, like looking for a licensed locksmith company and inquiring about pricing, to make sure you avoid common locksmith scams next time you need one.

Get a quote and watch for extra charges

One of the ways to avoid a scam is to make sure a company can give you a quote and be transparent about when extra charges may come up.  If possible, compare a few quotes so that you can see which ones are too high and which ones are reasonable.

If a quote does seem a bit high, it could be due to the job. The reason for the high prices is getting a service at your home rather than getting help from a store. You’re paying for the tools, the time, the transportation, the licensing costs, the continued training, and the skill of that professional.

Extra charges may come in to play and it’s important that a locksmith is transparent about that possibility. It’s common to pay for after-hours assistance, extra mileage, or service call minimums. Be sure to ask for a quote and what extras may come into play, since a professional locksmith would be happy to answer your questions about the intended repair.

A scammer would refuse to answer questions or may try to charge you for things unfairly after the job was done without quoting you for it in advance. Scammers also like to tell you the entire lock system needs to be replaced, charging you for a replacement part that is low-quality and unnecessary.

Scammers aren’t local and aren’t licensed

You’ll want to make sure you’re hiring a legitimate locksmith with proper licensing and identification. Look out for companies that are vague on the phone, don’t offer details like the name of the company, their local address, or a website, and use an 800 number rather than a local number that could actually be a call center.

A legitimate locksmith would answer the phone with identification, and be able to provide proof of their licensure and ID in person or online. In many states, it’s illegal to advertise these services without proper credentials. You can trust a locksmith that arrives in a company car rather than an unmarked car and actually asks for your ID to make sure you are unlocking a home or car that really belongs to you.

Look for these guys if you want quality, professional locksmith services!

Look for these guys if you want quality, professional locksmith services!

Other Red Flags

There are certain details that you may feel uneasy about that are likely red flags to steer clear of this company. Did they answer the phone “locksmith services” instead of mentioning their company name? Are they able to provide ID or did they arrive in an unmarked car? If they insist on cash only, it’s their way of avoiding having you dispute the charge later when you realize this is a scam.

Did they insist on drilling out the lock and insisting on a replacement rather than bringing the proper tools to unlock the door? Are you struggling to find their address on their website or on google? Look for red flags such as these that may tell you to call someone else.

Use this guide to make sure you are working with legitimate locksmiths and avoiding any of the common scams that have fooled so many in recent years.

Are Smart Locks as Secure as Traditional Locks?

Have you considered getting into the smart lock trend rather than using a traditional lock on your home? Locks on homes to keep them secure have been common for many years, but locks are starting to evolve to incorporate technology into its design.

Home security is more important than ever and sometimes the good old fashioned lock and key doesn’t feel sufficient enough to protect such an expensive investment. Some are making the switch to smart locks to add extra protection that will deter a criminal in seconds. Take a look at how traditional locks work vs. smart locks and why you may want to make the switch.

How traditional locks work

First, to understand smart locks, you need to get a better sense of how the traditional lock works. Traditional locks consist of varieties including rim locks, pin tumbler locks, and mortise locks. Pin-tumbler locks are the most common option for residential homes working as a series of spring-loaded pins loaded into cylinders.

These cylinders consist of pins made up of key pins and driver pins that require the correct key to elevate the key pins to push the drive pins upward. Having the right key in the lock allows the driver pins and key pins to align, allowing the key to turn in order to lock or unlock the mechanism. A wrong key would have misaligned pins blocking the key from being turned.

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While traditional locks are very secure if installed and secured by a professional, the question begs whether or not they are the best measure of securing the home. Many homeowners choose a deadbolt for exterior residential locks, whether it be a single cylinder or double cylinder deadbolt, to provide maximum security for their strength and durability. Traditional locks can always be enhanced with solid metal strike plates, longer deadbolt throws, locks resistant to lock picking, lock bumping, and more.

What is a smart lock and is it better?

Homeowners now have the option to go with a smart lock over the traditional lock option. Just like you are automating other areas of your home, you can now automate your home’s locks and control them remotely with the help of technology.

Rather than opening your door with the turn of a key, you’ll now be controlling and operating your lock from a smart device. You’ll be able to not only control your lock from your phone or tablet, but you’ll be able to monitor when it was opened and add features like cameras.

How does the smart lock work? Just like a traditional lock, you’ll have a professional locksmith handle the installation of your smart lock and it will work differently with any company you work with. Some companies will essentially replace your traditional locks with one that looks just like a typical deadbolt and helps you set it up on your phone to communicate with the lock.

Other companies will add on to your existing lock for the interior of your door and connect you to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. You’ll communicate with the lock with your smartphone or Bluetooth and you can control it remotely with Wi-Fi by sending a notification to the sensor to unlock it. A third option would be with companies that replace your deadbolt with a Wi-Fi enabled camera lock where you’ll get two programmable key fobs and four accounts that get their own digital key.

Security concerns and improvements

While it may seem that smart locks are the way of the future, there may be concerns for hacking over the traditional lock picking concerns. Since it relies on technology, you have to worry about security vulnerabilities from hackers or from the fact that having your Wi-Fi service go down will affect your ability to leave and enter your home.

Even if you blacklisted a key from getting in, they could take down your Wi-Fi and get in through your Bluetooth network. You are relying on being able to talk to the cloud to get in and out of your home, which means you need to have the internet up and running, but you’re also paying premiums to have technology incorporated into your home security. For renters that have electronic keys, losing a key and replacing it is not a cheap process.

In addition to hacking possibilities, a criminal will always have the option to try to break in through the windows or break down your door despite your lock of choice. On the other hand, you’ll deter those that know how to pick locks by throwing them for a loop with your unique lock of choice.

While smart locks warrant consideration, traditional locks still appear to be more secure than smart locks and have years of use to prove their worthiness in the battle between the two. Making modifications to your traditional lock is one of the great ways you can improve your home security, such as adding security pins and making the deadbolt longer. Regardless which type of lock you decide to use, The Professional Locksmith, right here in Chicago, can help you with all your needs.

5 Things to Avoid Doing When Locked Out of Your House

Getting locked out of your home isn't fun. It's a frustrating situation and may lead you to do something you shouldn't do. There are certain things you should do when you get locked out and other things you should avoid doing. Here are five things you never want to do when you get locked out of your home.

Kick in the Door

It may be tempting to kick in your door, but it's a bad idea. First, this isn't like the movies or TV shows and you'll likely hurt yourself trying to kick in the door. There's a reason why police officer use a battering ram when they need to get in.

Second, if you do successfully kick in the door, it will probably need to be replaced. You'll likely cause damage to the door and the frame of the door. It's best to keep your anger under control and avoid trying to kick in the door. If you do, however, we also offer door installation in Chicago!

Break the Doorknob

If you want to cause yourself more headaches and more frustration, go ahead and break the doorknob. This means you'll need to replace it and it will likely cost you more than it should to get out of this jam. It's best to leave the doorknob alone so that you don't have to pay for a replacement.

In addition, if you break the doorknob, you'll probably damage the door and possibly the frame of the door. It could require an entirely new door, which will cost you far more than just calling a local locksmith in Chicago.

Pick the Lock

You're not an expert and just because others on TV can pick a lock with a paper clip doesn't mean you can. It's more likely that you'll damage the door lock and may even make it impossible to get a key into it. You may end up needing a replacement door lock due to your genius idea to pick the lock.

Break a Window

It's not necessary to break a window in order to get into your home. If you make this decision, you'll have to hire someone to replace your window. It will cost you more than you think and if it's an older window, you'll have one newer window to go with your home full of older windows.

Freak Out

There's no sense in freaking out if you've locked yourself out. Where there is a problem, there's also a solution. You don't need to freak out if you're locked out of the house. Instead, call The Professional Locksmith and let us help you get back into your home.

After you've gotten back into your home, consider having The Professional Locksmith help to keep this problem from happening again. How to prevent getting locked out again:

  • Go keyless with smart locks requiring a code to get in instead of a key.
  • Have a lock box hidden with a code to get in and put an extra house key in it.
  • Get extra keys made and give them to close family members or friends.

Once you've been rescued, you can make one of these changes to ensure you don't have to worry about getting locked out again. Even if you do find yourself locked out again without a spare key, The Professional Locksmith is always just a phone call away!

Most Common Locksmith Scams for 2017

When you hire a locksmith, the last thing you are thinking about is if you are going to be scammed by a company. Your thoughts are all about getting the job done, getting you out of a bad situation when you’ve lost your keys, or getting set up in a new home where you are moving in. For someone that has been trying to get home from traveling and is arriving exhausted and hungry, the worst thing that can happen is to try to open the door with a suitcase in tow just to find that your keys are missing.

Calling a locksmith is supposed to be a solution to these stressful, unexpected situations, which makes locksmith scams one of the worst feelings imaginable. Take a look at how you can protect your home, your family, and your wallet from these common locksmith scams that you may run into this year.

Identity theft

You already worry about identity theft every time you swipe your credit card or have to submit personal information, but do you also have to worry about when working with a locksmith? Watch out for this scam this year when it comes to locksmiths because now customers can be deceived into giving out personal information that can be sold or used by a criminal later.

Companies may do a great a job and charge an appropriate price, but after the service, they may sell your personal information. Look for a reputable locksmith with great reviews and verify their license before hiring them for the job.

Getting overcharged

Did you find a locksmith charging especially low prices as a one-time special? When you find a locksmith with unbelievably low rates, it’s a good sign that you may end up in a bait and switch situation. What happens is that a locksmith will attract new customers with a really low rate, and by the end of providing service, the price will have increased to 400 or 500% more than the original quote.

While the job got done and you are back in your home safe and sound, you are going to end up overpaying a company that you specifically chose for that low price. Don’t fall for a low price scam, and be willing to pay a reasonable price with a company that quotes you appropriately from the start.

New handle needed

Watch out this year for locksmiths that pull this trick on you. Some locksmiths will try to tell you that the only way to get into your home is that they will have to break the handle or wrench it off, when in fact, it wasn’t necessary. Then, you’ll end up overpaying for the services and the replacement when it wasn’t even needed.

You may fall for this trick and pay for the work and the parts that weren’t needed and not realize until later that you could have avoided the whole ordeal with the right locksmith. You should never have to deal with a locksmith that arrives with incorrect tools for the job, like a drill, rather than the standard tension wrench and lever pick. Look for a reputable locksmith that won’t suggest outlandish methods of getting back into your home.

Only accepting cash

Along with the scam of overpaying, you may run into a locksmith that demands a cash only payment. They are really scammers who arrive posing as locksmiths, do the job to “fix” the lock, and then ask for cash only rather than another form of payment. This is a good sign that it’s a scam because the scammer doesn’t have to worry about you disputing the charge later or realizing they aren’t a licensed and legit company.

Make sure to ask a locksmith a few questions before hiring them, such as a price estimate, how they plan to get into the house, where they are located, and whether they would need to use a drill or what could cause the price to vary. These questions will help you avoid being scammed this year when you need a locksmith during a stressful situation.

Call the very reputable The Professional Locksmiths for all your Chicago Locksmith needs!

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