Simple Home Security Fixes

You don't have to spend a fortune to fortify your domicile. With these simple fixes, you will increase your security level and improve your piece of mind.

A castle and moat for medieval security - I can dream anyway
A castle and moat for medieval security - I can dream anyway

Security system, I don't need no stinking security system

All my life, I have been security conscious, paranoid if you prefer. But, as a character from Joseph Heller's book, Catch 22 famously opines, "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you." Words to live by.

Security awareness started when I was around seven years old. Being certain my sister was sneaking into my room and messing with my stuff when I was not there, I devised a security system. The components were simple enough:

  • 6-volt dry cell battery with two screw terminals on top
  • 14-gauge wire
  • A knife blade switch (like they use in Frankenstein)
  • A low voltage bell

Here's my schematic:

My first security alarm
My first security alarm

​​I built the circuit, stripped a couple of inches of insulation off two wires, bent them into hooks and fixed them to the door hinge. The two wires would touch and ring the alarm bell when anyone opened the door. Boo-yah, audible deterrent!


​​As you might suspect, doors are a popular means of entry for bad guys. There are many techniques they use to get inside without a key. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Open the door and walk in - you'd be surprised at how often this happens. For example, you're out back for a spell and leave the front door unlocked. Oops! Bad guys get in free.
  • Kick it in - dramatic and attention-getting. No stealth here.
  • Get a car jack, the tall types that used to come with cars and trucks in the 1960s and 70s, line it up inside the door frame parallel with the group and force the jamb wide enough that the door opens. - sneakier but takes some time to set up.
  • Break a window in the door and open the lock. Still low on the stealth scale, it's faster than the jack. Be sure to wrap your fist to avoid injury from the broken glass.
  • Pick the lock - trust me, it takes longer than it does on TV and in the movies. A perp with this level of skill is likely to target bigger opportunities.
  • Remove the molding around the door and wedge something against the mechanism to force their way in, say the pry bar used to pull off the molding.
  • Use a credit card or piece of plastic to slip between the bolt and frame.

I'm sure I have missed something, but you get the picture.

Simple fixes for door security matrix

Rather than go into excessive detail, I've put a handy matrix together that guides you on when to use which measures.

Exterior door deterrent measures matrix
Exterior door deterrent measures matrix

I grabbed a few examples of various deterrent measures for your viewing pleasure.

The first image shows the difference between a deadbolt (on the right) and a regular bolt on the right. Functionally, you can only lock and unlock a deadbolt with a key or knob (see the second image for an example of these two methods).

Example of a deadbolt (right) and a regular bolt (left) ​​
Example of a deadbolt (right) and a regular bolt (left)
Deadbolt lock with knob and keyed interior lock/unlock options
Deadbolt lock with knob and keyed interior lock/unlock options
Door security chains
Door security chains
Door swing bar security device
Door swing bar security device
Rubber door stops
Rubber door stops

You can also buy a pack of wooden shims from your hardware store for less If you're okay with a rustic look...

Two styles of strike plate bolt protectors for outward swinging doors
Two styles of strike plate bolt protectors for outward swinging doors

Windows and sliding doors

The standard sash locks provide good, reliable security when it comes to windows. You'll see bad actors in television shows and movies using a putty knife or some other thin piece of metal to slide between the upper and lower parts of a window to open these locks. I suppose that's possible, but having owned multitudinous homes, I don't think that technique would work on any of their windows. Here are some techniques the baddies might use to enter your fortress via the window route.

  • Open unlocked windows and climb in. This situation is common when windows are open for ventilation purposes.
  • Jimmy the sash lock with a piece of metal - already opined that this might not work.
  • Break the glass, unlock the window and then climb on inside. Not much you can do about this except using a keyed sash lock like the one below.
Keyed sash lock sold by Walmart
Keyed sash lock sold by Walmart

​​Simple fixes for window security

Your first line of defense is the same one for doors; lock your windows. But, you say, we like fresh air moving around to cut the heat and so forth. Well, you are in luck because there is a simple fix for that scenario.

What you'll need

  • Nails with heads - they need some heft, so use ones 1/8" to 3/16" in diameter
  • Drill and a bit slightly larger than the diameter of your nails
  • Pliers with cutting capability

The step-by-step

  1. Raise the window to the position you like for ventilation, making sure it is low enough no one can crawl through.
  2. Drill a hole at the mid-point of a vertical sash, going through the inner sash and into the sash behind it. Note: Be careful not to drill all the way through the second sash and stay away from the glass. Drilling at the midpoint should take care of glass avoidance quite nicely.
  3. Slide the nail into the hole and see how much sticks out. If it interferes with the operation of blinds, curtains or shades, cut off a bit of excess with your pliers. Try to leave enough length so you can easily remove it to close the window.

Tip: Never store ladders outside. This is an open invitation for miscreants of all types to use and climb through second-story windows.

Sliding glass doors

I include these with the windows because, to my mind, they are just oversized windows anyway.

Typical vulnerabilities of these doors include:

  • Prying the door up and out of its track.
  • Prying the door laterally to break the lock.
  • Breaking and entering. Sadly, there isn't much you can do here simply.

Simple fixes for sliding door security

To protect against the first entry method, use locking nails as described for windows, only this is for keeping the two doors connected when they are closed.

To defeat the second method, use the good old, tried and true dowel or broomstick. Measure the distance between the sliding section and the frame when everything is locked. Buy a dowel of the proper length or cut an old broomstick to the right length. Recommended diameter = 3/4" to 1". There are more elegant ways to do this without dowels or broomsticks, but this simple fixes after all.

Not so simple security fixes

Depending upon your neighbor and its crime rates, there are three more not-so-simple security fixes.

Install security grills over first-floor windows. This is more difficult with sliders.

Window security grills
Window security grills

Install security films on first-floor windows and sliding glass doors. I highly recommend professional installation for the film. There is an art to it, and it is a royal pain to do it yourself. Here's an analogy, if you've ever struggled to put on a smartphone screen protector, imagine that experience on a "screen" the size of a door.  Make the call to a professional...

Window security film in action
Window security film in action

Installing break glass sensors to your security sensor (if you have one) offers additional deterrent value to your system. These sensors are tuned to the frequency glass makes when it breaks, triggering the alarm. With DIY security systems from SimpliSafe and Ring, adding these sensors is an easy task.


Fences and good locks are a great solution for property protection unless you have a few squares in Nebraska. Other options include,

  • Motion-activated lights, the more lumens or watts, the better. Make it shine like midday!
  • Motion-activated cameras with memory cards to capture the event.
  • Motion-activated alarms, 160 dB is a splendid attention-getter!
  • Motion-activated sprinklers, designed to keep four-legged varmints out of your garden, are a delightful surprise for the two-legged variety. Only effective at temperatures above freezing...
  • A goose, they make lots of noise when disturbed, day and night. Local zoning may prohibit having a backyard goose. Check before buying, as the market for used geese is unpredictable.

For standalone structures like garages and shops, use the same techniques to protect doors and windows already described.

Ix-nay on the toobybrap-ay

Over the years, I've heard people say that they thought boobytraps were a good idea. They fantasized about doing damage to the criminals. Well, if you entertain such ideas or know of someone who does, don't do it. Why? Because it is illegal, and you could do serious jail time not to mention face lawsuits by the injured party.

But they are trespassing with bad intent

​Yes, they are on your private property uninvited. Yes, they are not there collecting for a noble cause like the Red Cross. No, you cannot set traps for them because that constitutes premeditated assault with the intent to injure, or other legal jargon. This applies to both outside and inside your house. The bottom line is simple, just say no to boobytraps!

Keep it simple and keep it safe

You don't have to spend a fortune to fortify your domicile. With these simple fixes, you will increase your security level and improve your piece of mind.