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Locks

Started: 2021-06-28 21:06:02

Submitted: 2021-06-28 23:07:55

Visibility: World-readable

In which the intrepid narrator replaces the locks and handles on his front door

The first thing I did when I took possession of our house in Santa Cruz was replace the lock and handle on the front door.

Exterior door handle at Nanna Ct
Exterior door handle at Nanna Ct

The main reason we wanted to replace the door locks was to replace the unsafe double-keyed deadbolt with a normal thumbturn deadbolt, so we could unlock the door from the inside without a key in the event of an emergency evacuation. A close second was to install a programmable keypad lock so we could give out door codes to the fumigation and flooring contractors who would be visiting the house to get it ready for us to move in.

Old front door lock at Nanna Ct
Old front door lock at Nanna Ct

The final reason I wanted to replace the door handles was that I didn't particularly care for the old worn appearance and texture of the hardware. Many of the handles were rusting away; even if I ignored the appearance of the aging metal hardware it felt grimy and icky under my hands every time I touched the handle to open or close the door.

Door jamb view of old lock
Door jamb view of old lock

It turned out that the front door deadbolt wasn't technically double-keyed; instead, the deadbolt had only been drilled half-way through the door and the deadbolt was not visible at all on the front of the door. The latching door handle had its own lock: it was locked by a key from the front or from the handle inside the door. This was basically function except for the fact that I wanted to change the keys in the process, and I didn't like the idea of an exterior door that one could accidentally lock behind one's self. (With the keypad deadbolt I installed, one can deliberately lock the door behind one's self, even without the key, which does seem like a useful feature.)

The last time I bought a house I did the research on smart locks and replaced the front door deadbolt with a Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt with Century Trim in "Satin Nickel". (I chose this particular lock because it would talk Bluetooth to my phone to let me unlock and program it, but only if I were physically standing in front of it. I could buy a separate wifi module to allow it to connect to the Internet at large, but I deliberately chose not to do that, in hopes of making it slightly harder to remotely unlock my front door. The lock supported up to 30 individual door codes, so I allocated different codes to different members of the family, and included codes for guests and spare ephemeral codes that I could assign to contractors or other visitors whom we wanted to temporarily grant access to the house, then revoke it later.)

This time around I felt sufficiently confident in the lock we'd already used that I bought the same thing again, only this time I picked a new color: matte black, because the house already had a fairly distinctive visual style and brushed nickel wouldn't look very good against it; and brushed nickel has had a good run for the last 20 years so maybe it's time to try a new metal finish.

New front door lock at Nanna Ct
New front door lock at Nanna Ct

I had all of the hole saws I needed to drill the deadbolt hole the rest of the way through the door to install the new keypad deadbolt. The only problem was that the new door handle I bought didn't match the footprint or mounting holes of the old door handle, so I ended up with some weird unpainted patches on the front of the door, and an unfortunate hole all the way through the door under the handle. I worked around the awkward hole in the door using spray foam, which at least gave me a credible seal in the door until I can make a permanent patch and get matching paint for the front of the door, so the old green paint no longer shows through under the new handle. (I guess the door must have been green before?)

New Schlage Sense lock at Nanna Ct
New Schlage Sense lock at Nanna Ct

The next thing I did (on the following weekend) was replace the door locks on three of the exterior patio and deck doors with matching matte black deadbolts and door levers. I rekeyed the deadbolts so that the key matched the new front door lock, and installed passage handles so the doors would latch but not lock from the outside without using a key. This made it impossible to lock one's self out on the second-floor deck, which seemed entirely too easy to do; I almost locked myself out on the deck after the fumigation, before I realized the fumigators must have locked the door handles as well as the deadbolts. Out of spite I replaced the lock on the tiny triangular patio attached to the ground-floor living room: while touring the house I locked myself and my whole family out on the tiny patio because the handle was locked and I closed the door behind us. I briefly considered jumping over the railing and through the adjacent bush into the front yard so I could walk around to the front door and let myself back into the house, but we were able to get our realtor's attention by knocking on the window so she let us back in.

I still need to replace more of the handles and locks in the house (including the door to his room that Calvin keeps accidentally locking even though we don't have a key for it); but for now I have plenty of boxes to unpack so I'll probably start there.

Unlike most of you, I get to bed at a reasonable hour.
- Dr. Show, to physics class, 20 August 1999