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What to Consider Before Changing Commercial Locks

As a business owner, you wear a lot of hats during the day. You can start out the day as a human resource director, move into salesforce mode before lunch, and end the day as a janitor taking out the trash.

There’s a lot to think about. There’s a lot to worry about.

And while some things can be solved with simple courses of action, studies show that we don’t always take the most straightforward routes. A recent survey from Insureon reported that almost 9 percent of business owners had a burglary or theft large enough to file an insurance claim.

What to Consider Before Changing Commercial LocksOf course, burglary and theft can include a wide variety of malicious behavior. Some thieves are savvy enough to hack their way in through technology, even if they’re a half a world away.

But in many cases, thieves break in for one reason: opportunity. They find an easy way in, take it, and help themselves to things that are easily converted to cash.

The best way to stop that behavior is easier than you think. It involves paying a little more attention to your locks.

As a commercial locksmith, we’re called onto job sites all the time where break-ins could have been prevented with just a little foresight. Do you see yourself in any of these situations?

Lost Keys

It happens to all of us; when we lose a key and no matter how hard we search, we can’t come across it. It seems to disappear.

Whether you merely misplaced it or someone picked it up with less than good intentions in mind, a lost key puts you at risk. If you can’t pinpoint who has a set of keys and who doesn’t, it’s best to take the safest way out and replace the locks on your doors.

If you find losing keys becomes a habit, especially if you have several employees who lose them on a regular basis, it might be time to find an alternative. A keyless entry system may be the solution. It can give you the opportunity to change out security numbers as frequently as you desire.

Situation Changes

Life happens. And that means we have things that can change and impact our safety every single day.

  • Have you had an employee quit?
  • Do you have employees working after hours?
  • Have you sold off a portion of your business to someone new?
  • Have you had a divorce, separation, or dispute?
  • Have you given keys to a maintenance worker?
  • Have you provided keys to housekeeping?
  • Have you renovated your space and had contractors enter your space?

Every time you entrust a key to someone new, it puts the potential for risk at a higher level.

As a commercial locksmith, we hear the tales all the time. “But we trusted him.” “I forgot all about giving her a key.”

We lock doors to create a barrier of entry. But in many cases, it’s people we’ve trusted in the past who have the most opportunity to do us harm.

Move

Moving is one of the most stressful times in our lives. And while statistics show that we tend to move into a new home on average every seven years, we move offices just as frequently.

  • We move when we outgrow a space.
  • We move to a newer building with better amenities.
  • We move to enhance our brand.

And while logic tells us that with every move, updating the locks on the doors is a wise move to make, busyness often gets in the way and we simply forget.

Sure, you may have installed a new lock on the front door, but what about the interior doors?

  • How about the locks on top management offices?
  • How about the locks on the computer room?
  • How about the locks on the side that open up to the hallway?
  • How about the locks to the supply closet?

What would a would-be thief have access to if they made it past your front door? Especially if they had the keys in hand?

Break In or Attempted Break In

Want to know who is at greatest risk for a break in? If you said a building that was recently broken into, you’re correct.

While it goes against what most people think, there is a reason. Burglars know your defenses are down. We tend to think that if it happened once, we’re at a lower risk for it happening again.

Burglars also know we’re more likely to spend time recovering from loss rather than beefing up security. We’re more worried about replacing items like computers and supplies than worrying about replacing the locks.

That gives thieves a chance to come back in and take more. In many cases, they’ll have an even easier time—you’ll have boxes of new computers stacked up and ready for the taking.

If you’ve been broken into, before you replace anything, invest in a new lock system first.

Wear and Tear

Even the most secure locks will start to wear out over time. The keys lose their sharpness. It takes a little more wiggle to make the connection.

We often look at that little extra time needed to find the connection as a minor annoyance. But for a thief, they look at it as an opportunity. If it takes a little extra wiggle to find the connection with a key, chances are it only takes a little wiggle to pop the lock and be inside in seconds.

You can start to see wear and tear on the outside. The shininess fades. The area around the key entry is scratched and worn. Even your key starts looking a little more faded with time.

Don’t wait for the worst to happen. There’s six signs that your commercial lock may be wearing out. If you notice any of these signs, it’s time for a replacement. 

Age

Even if your locks stay shiny and new-looking, age makes every lock degrade over time. Even with a simple lock-and-key system, technology has changed. And with new technology means an improved way to lock and secure your premises from potential risks.

Even if you don’t want to move into a more sophisticated, smart technology system, today’s key entries are more secure than ever.

If it’s been more than a few years since you’ve upgraded your entry system, now is the time.

And we can help you. From simple rekeying to adding high security to your space, let our commercial locksmith service help you keep your assets safe.

What Makes an Entrance ADA Complaint?

Since the Americans with Disabilities Act took effect in the early 1990s, it has helped improve the quality of life for many disabled individuals that are out living and working in various parts of the country.

Businesses have many different requirements to follow and having ADA compliant entrances are one of the most important details that must be adhered to. The ADA states that people living with disabilities should not be restricted in arriving on site to a building or facility. They should be able to enter as easily as others do. For this reason, it is important to be sure that your facility has met ADA compliance rules.Woman in Wheelchair Opening Non-ADA Complaint Door - Harry's Locksmith

ADA standards apply to all places of public accommodation, including businesses, commercial facilities, and state and local government buildings and sites.

Whether you’re planning on constructing a new building or you are working on upgrading your business or facility to become ADA compliant, it is important to make sure you understand the various requirements that are outlined by the law. Learn more from our specialty locksmith team at Harry’s Locksmith by gaining many the important details you need below.

Parking and Drop-off Areas

The curbs must have curb cuts at parking and drop-off areas and there should be parking spaces designated for lift vans and other vehicles that require disability accessibility.

Disabled parking spaces should be close to the exit and entrances and should be marked clearly. The minimum number of accessible spaces will vary for each facility, depending on the total amount of parking spaces offered. At least one of every six accessible spaces, needs to be large enough to accommodate vans.

Approaching the Facility

One of the first requirements is that stairs should not be a necessity to enter the building. If there are stairs, there should also be a walkway that is stable and slip resistant and at least 36 inches wide so people with wheelchairs, crutches, canes, and walkers can access it.

If there are objects around the path, they need to be easily detectable for a person with visual disabilities using a cane. Hardened materials such as asphalt, concrete, tile, and wood are firm and stable enough for accessibility. Loose materials like gravel are not firm enough and will not meet ADA guidelines.

Ramps

The ADA requires that ramps cannot have a greater ratio of one inch in height to 12 inches along the ramp base. If the ramp is longer than six feet, railings on both sides are mandatory. Railings need to be slip resistant and steady and need to be 34 to 38 inches high. In some instances, elevators or platform lifts may be used as an alternative option.

Entering the Facility

If stairs are the main way to enter the building, there should also be a lift or ramp option for the disabled. If there are inaccessible entrances, they should be marked clearly and there should be directions to another alternate accessible entrance in the area that can be used independently.

At the entrance door, there should be a 32-inch clear opening and there should be at least 18 inches of clear space on the pulling side of the door, near the handle. The threshold should not be more than a quarter inch, as this could be a severe tripping hazard. If the edge is beveled, it can be no more than 3/4 inches high.

Door hardware is also important here, as the handle on the door cannot be more than 48 inches
and it should be able to open without tight grasping or twisting. People that have mobility issues or arthritis need to have the option for an easy-to-operate handle, such as a lever or loop handle.

Traditional round door knobs are not accessible because they require twisting and grasping. If your door has an automatic closer on it, it should open at a 90-degree angle and should take three to five seconds to close to allow for a person to get in and out without feeling rushed in fear of the door closing on them.

If there are multiple entrances in the facility, the accessible entrances need to be left open or unlocked during business hours. If there are safety and security precautions in place and the building needs to remain locked, there should be an intercom or doorbell that is mounted no more than four feet above the ground, so the person can alert the staff that they need to enter the building.

Does Your Existing Facility Need Upgrades?

Now that the requirements are outlined above, it is important to survey your facility to see what needs to be done to make it fully ADA compliant.

Start outside and look closely at site arrival points including the parking lot and sidewalk areas. Move next to the entrances and make a checklist of what is already there and what needs to be changed. Be sure to bring along a measuring tape and take accurate measurements so you can be certain that what is there is already compliant.

When in doubt, take pictures, measure a few times, and write things down. This allows you to stay organized and work through the checklist with ease.

If your survey results show that you need to make some changes to your facility, you have likely started searching for an experienced specialty locksmith in the Portland metro area to help get your entrance ADA compliant. Look no further than Harry’s Locksmith.

Our team of knowledgeable locksmiths have worked with businesses and residents for over six decades and we provide a variety of services in addition to helping people with lockouts. We can work quickly to install automatic door operators and have the right kind of hardware for your business to upgrade and meet current ADA standards.

Our specialty locksmith services also include rekeying and master keying services, commercial electronic access control, security solutions, and more. Contact Harry’s Locksmith today for information on the services we provide that will help ensure your facility is ADA compliant.

The Major Differences Between Electrified Locks and Electric Strikes

Businesses used to rely on the traditional lock and key, just like homes. But the security just didn’t hold up. Thankfully, tremendous strides have been made in the locksmith industry and there are options to fit doors and budgets of all sizes.

Today, a hot option for businesses is to protect their spaces via electronic entrances. The benefits are numerous. Owners can easily determine who is coming in and out of the space, are no longer regularly replacing lost keys, and don’t have to replace said keys every time there is a staffing change.

Even within electronic entrances, there are various options, but you should understand the difference between fail-safe and fail-secure locking devices.

Fail-safe and Fail-Secure Locking Devices

With fail-safe locks, the default state is actually unlocked. To keep it locked during normal business operations, power is applied. Should the power be interrupted or fail, the door automatically unlocks or releases to let people out of the space.

The Major Differences Between Electrified Locks & Electric Strikes

Fail-safe locks are mostly used for main entry points like office doors or lobby access doors. A popular use for this application is maglocks which, by design, require power to operate.

With fail-secure locks, if the power is interrupted or fails, the door stays locked. Its default state is locked or secured, so the door gets locked when power is removed. Fail-secure locks are often used for IT rooms or other sensitive areas.

However, because the door keeps locked in emergencies, typically it will be used in conjunction with a mechanical override, such as a regular key. Fail-secure locks are used for fire-related doors or staircase (stairwell) doors. The reason is that in the case of a fire, those doors should remain closed to seal off a portion of the space and help reduce the fire from spreading.

To make the best decision for your location you’ll want to consider cost, convenience, and having the proper fail-safes in place. This is what you’ll want to know before visiting with the closest locksmith.

1. Electric Strikes

Electric strikes are generally used with metal or wood doors. They can also be used in conjunction with a deadbolt, which is good because if you are not currently using something electronic, odds are you are using a deadbolt and will need something that is compatible.

There are many ways to describe an electric strike, but the easiest way to understand what it is would be to think of it like a door buzzer in an apartment building. Electric strikes work virtually the exact same way.

No physical key is needed, but the door remains locked while only authorized users can be buzzed in. This most commonly is done in the form of a buzzer, keypad, fob reader, or key card.

Given its compatibility with wood and metal doors and general affordability compared to other electronic door security options, electric strikes are a very popular both in the home and for commercial properties.

Fail-secure and fail-safe measures can both be easily taken with an electric strike as well. If the power goes out, the fail-secure with an electric strike is that the doors remain locked, but can be opened manually either by turning the door latch or using a physical key.

2. Electric Push Bars or Exit Bars

These are generally used in order to comply with fire code. The doors are locked by default, but the push bars make a fast exit from a building possible in the event of a fire.

You will often see the push bars on side entrance doors in large buildings and they are required by law in a lot of cases because if there is a fire, people can run down a flight of stairs and push the bar quickly to get out.

A push bar allows a building to have a modern access control system operating its doors while also complying with safety and fire code regulations, making it a suitable option in many cases.

3. Magnetic Locks

These types of locks are perfect for a modern office building because most architects now design buildings with elegant glass doors and those are not always compatible with physical locks.

They operate using a powerful electromagnet attached to the top door frame at the corner with a corresponding metal plate on the door itself, meaning the locks work just like two large magnets.

Magnetic locks are a workaround for those designs and the amount of force necessary to operate the door’s opening and closing usually varies based on how large the door is in each scenario. As a result, magnetic locks can be a very classy option.

However, it should be kept in mind that they quite often require motion sensors and backup batteries to operate. They are also one of the more expensive options, so if you are on a budget and looking to cut costs, magnetic locks are probably not the way you want to go.

4. Electrified Mortise Locks / Wired Mortise Locks

These are an excellent option because they are incredibly easy to use and operate. Mortise locks operate almost entirely like a standard lock that most people have been conditioned to use all of their lives, except they have a power cable connecting the lock to the power supply.

The only somewhat complicated part is that mortise locks require a wire to go through the doors and into the main wall, meaning you either need to use electrified door hinges or on-wall cabling to make them work.

These locks can be set up to be either fail-safe or fail-secure depending on your personal preference.

Some more expensive mortise locks can be set up to switch between fail-safe and fail-secure mode, but it can be a little complicated to install it that way, so if you choose to go that route, you will want to consult with the closest locksmith.

Although mortise locks are a classy option like magnetic locks, unlike magnetic locks, they are not compatible with glass doors, so that must be kept in mind when deciding whether or not to use them.

Harry’s Locksmith has been a regional and community partner for businesses and residents since 1949. Our service areas include the Greater Vancouver area, Portland metro area, and the Pacific Northwest I-5 corridor. There’s no job too big or small for our team of locksmiths who are experts in their field. Our specialties include security doors, keyless entry, ada compliance, master rekeying, and fire door rating inspections.