As the largest and typically the weakest entry point to the house, the garage door deserves some extra attention to make sure it’s secure. The good news, though, is that it really doesn’t take that much time or money to ensure that your garage is properly reinforced and locked.
Garage Door Opener Security
Remote control garage door openers can leave your garage vulnerable because the same technology that allows thieves to steal codes from cellular phones will also let them pick up the code for your remote control. For a more secure solution, some garage door opener companies offer technology that changes the code every time the garage door opener is used. With billions of possible codes, it’s next to impossible that anyone will find yours.
It’s also important that the door opener be able to filter out stray signals so that your door won’t accidentally be opened by the neighbor’s door opener. If you plan for away from home for some time, you can prevent unintentional opening just by shutting off the power to the door opener at the breaker.
Whenever you buy a new garage door opener, change the factory settings. Factories use the same codes repeatedly, and experience burglars are well aware of this.
Likewise, if you’ve moved into a new house, remember to change the code on the garage door opener. This is simple to do. When you remove the lid on the handheld unit, there’s usually a row of 10-12 switches inside. Using a pen or toothpick, you can flip the switches into a different or more complex combination. Then go to the receiver box by your garage door and change the switches to match.
It’s also a good idea to secure your automatic door release (which disconnects the garage door from the belt drive in an emergency). To do this, simply remove the pull cord. Just make sure to keep the cord in case you ever do need to disconnect the door from the power opener in case the electricity fails, or the door’s motor breaks down.
Finally, always keep your garage door opener in a safe place. The door opener is just like a key, and by leaving it on the dash or front seat of your car, you’re making it easy for a burglar to get into your house.
Garage Door Keypad Security
If your garage door is equipped with a keypad that opens the door when you push in a numerical code, make sure that code is changed as needed. Most electric garage door openers have instructions for changing the code printed on the handheld unit, but if you’re not sure how you can ask a locksmith.
Good, old-fashioned locks
Technology is great, but no matter how well-encrypted your security code is, even the dimmest burglar may still be able to snap the electronic equipment off by pulling or kicking at the garage door.
For a truly secure garage, you need quality mechanical locks. The locks on most garage doors aren’t really sufficient, so you’ll be better off upgrading them. If you’ve got an up-and-over style garage door, the most effective security measure is to install sturdy hasps and padlocks on both the outside and the inside of the door. These will prevent the door from being forced open. Make sure the hasps cover the installation screws so the burglar can’t simply unscrew the whole unit. If you use padlocks to secure your garage door, at minimum, the padlock should have a laminated or forged body, a hardened 9/32″ double-locking shackle, or a 5-pin tumbler lock.
Another security measure for overhead garage doors is to drill a hole in one of the tracks, the door, or both and place a hook or other device in the hole to stop the door from being opened. You can also install bolts in the runners that can be locked from the inside. If you’re serious about keeping intruders from forcing open your up-and-over garage door, try the Garage Defender(TM) lock. This is a lock with expandable security bolts and a concealed armored padlock that fits on the bottom of the garage door to prevent it from being opened.
If you have double-side-hinged garage doors, installing cane bolts can make them more secure. A mortise lock with a rim latch is another good addition.
Reinforce the Door
Many garage doors are made from lightweight materials to make them easier to raise and lower and save on expenses. Unfortunately, this also makes them easier for an intruder to break through. Ideally, garage doors should be equipped with steel bracing. Wooden overhead garage doors with thin panels should be reinforced on the inside with 1/2″ plywood or, better yet, replaced with a metal rolling overhead door. Metal rolling doors are not only nearly impossible to break through, but they also can’t be forced open from the outside.
The windows in your garage should be just as secure as those in your home and, in addition, should also obscure the view into your garage.
Your Home’s Entrance Door
The entrance door that leads from inside the garage into your home or out into the garden should be just as secure as your front door. Ideally, it should be made of solid-core wood or metal and fitted with a deadbolt lock.
Secure Your Valuables
If your gardening equipment or tools are especially valuable, consider using special security devices to lock them in place in the garage. The simplest method is to simply lock items down with chains through eyebolts secured to the floor or walls. Another option is a security cage that you can lock to keep valuable equipment inside. It’s an especially good precaution to lock down ladders, hammers, and other tools that could be used to break into your house.
Forgetful? Get a Door Monitor!
Especially in summer, it’s easy to forget to close the garage door for the night. Fortunately, if you (or your kids) are guilty of this habit, modern technology has a solution: the garage door monitor. This is a simple, usually wireless, system that uses sensors placed on the garage door to detect when the door has been left open for an extended period of time. The control box in your house then alerts you with a sound and/or flashing lights. The monitor can be programmed to automatically shut the door after a certain time so that your garage will be secure even if you don’t notice the monitor’s signal. It’s a simple do-it-yourself product that can be found for less than $50 and takes about half an hour to install. Many companies that produce garage door openers, such as Genie, Chamberlain, LiftMaster, and Stanley, also make garage door monitors.
Your garage door doesn’t have to be a weak point. Use a secure garage door opener and lock the garage door with hasps and padlocks, and most burglars won’t even bother to try.