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I live with a person with lock anxiety, and I'm looking for a DIY solution. I already have an alarm system that beeps if a certain door is closed, but how can I also make sure it's completely locked?

The key word is "completely". The door already has a deadlatch and a dummy knob on the outside, so it already locks people out. However, there's a little knob that locks the inner handle in place and prevents jimmying. Since it doesn't automatically engage, it elicits frequent checking and rechecking.

I've considered some possible solutions:

  • Just remove the little knob to take away the uncertainty. That comes close, but I would prefer to be able to state that the door has been made more secure in case they ask for details.

  • Use an electronic deadbolt with timer functionality. This seems needlessly complex and expensive, and requires batteries.

  • Screw on a gate latch or similar. These are too flimsy and only meant for holding a gate closed, not to lock a door.

To clarify: making sure the door is closed is a non-problem due to the alarm. Door closers and spring hinges don't matter. The door also does not need to allow slamming it shut: it's fine if you have to push/press/hold/twist something to close it.

Is there such a thing as regular deadbolt but that engages automatically via a spring for example? So that you have to twist it back to close the door, but when the door is closed, it's 100% engaged?

  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. I'm no psychologist, but it feels like you're using rationality to address an irrational thing, and that isn't likely to work. That said, hopefully someone will have some suggestions for you. – Daniel Griscom Jun 26 at 1:43
  • I don't disagree, but if taking the hairdryer with you is an option I'm all for a pragmatic solutions. – that other guy Jun 26 at 1:58
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    Well put, and here's hoping for success. And, a thought based on your reference: can you come up with a solution where the final step in locking the door involves removing something that you can take with you? – Daniel Griscom Jun 26 at 2:07
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    Just make sure that you don't end up with a deadly hazard. An exit door (excluding perhaps certain criminal institutions) should be easy and obvious to open - e.g., turn one knob or push one bar. You do NOT want to have to remember passcodes or secret handshakes or whatever to get out if there is a fire - seconds count. – manassehkatz Jun 26 at 2:22
  • It sounds like you should switch it out for a different lock design that isn't as fiddly with regards to preventing jimmying/etc of the door (although much of that depends on your strike plate being properly sized to keep the deadlatch from dropping into the strike cavity inadvertently, thus defeating the deadlatch functionality on the door hardware). – ThreePhaseEel Jun 26 at 3:35
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Talk to a competent lock dealer and ask about a storeroom lock-set.

This is intended for secure office store-rooms, where there would never be a reason to leave the door unlocked. From the inside, the handle always allows egress. From the outside, the door cannot be opened without a key, period. There is not push or twist button to make the door stay unlocked.

  • Sounds perfect, thanks! – that other guy Jun 26 at 3:47
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    this has a pretty "severe" side effect of the same lock concious person EVER allowing the door to close on them, and they don't have the key, of not getting back in. Where with a deadbolt, you have to conciously choose to lock it. If the person has to compromise and install a hidden key lockbox, their anxiety now switches to that item instead. (Not to mention, the inner handle still allows jimmying in this case) – noybman Jun 26 at 3:57
  • @noybman certainly OP is aware of this; this is what they requested. – Harper Jun 26 at 5:05
  • @noybman shhhhh... don't say that, the "lock anxiety" person might not have thought of that! – FreeMan Jun 26 at 12:51
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It requires much more than batteries, but otherwise I think an electronic magnetic lock would fit your needs and relieve your anxiety. As long as there is power, it will be locked when closed. A push to egress button needs to be installed nearby so that you can exit when there is power (it cuts the power to the magnet), and without power it fails safely unlocked.

You typically add battery backups if you need it to stay locked with an extended power outage. They're also pick proof, so you'd have nothing to worry about there.

Here is an example of a kit: Assa Abloy Model LNB-6

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Given what info you have already provided us, you might want to consider adding an additional door switch to the door in question in series with the door closed sensor may suffice.

You just have to demonstrate to the people concerned that it works, and it successfully alerts all people if the door is not locked.

Basically, attach the free magnet part to the deadbolt handle, or add a lever-arm to the deadbold latch handle, then strategically place the wired sensor on the door itself (build it up with an attractive wooden block for example), and postion it such that; when locked the sensor is closed, and range of motion is not impeded when moving it to the unlock position.

You may find you'll want to choose alternative deadbolts to do it, but as long as the lock has a moving assembly you should be able to rig something up to "kill both birds with the same stone"

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