Is Your Old Garage Door a Security Risk?

You’ve invested a lot of time and money into securing your home. You’ve purchased and installed your own video monitoring system, so you can check in on your property anytime and anywhere. You’ve hidden your spare key in the most secret place possible. And you’ve trained your dog to bark loudly at strangers, so you always know when someone comes to call.

But in your preparations, did you ever stop to check your garage?

Although your garage door seems sturdy with its solid metal panels, it can be one of the most vulnerable points in your house. If you have an older garage door, opening system, or locking mechanism, your home may be vulnerable to break-ins and theft.

Old Doors Have Weakened Panels

Although lifespan varies depending on manufacturers and materials, the average garage door and its opening system last about 10 to 15 years. Even if you properly maintain your door, sooner or later the torsion springs will break or the door tracks will crack. Over time, the panels themselves weaken and become easy to manipulate.

The panels in particular pose a security threat, as thieves can push in the door to create small, but workable gaps. With a wide enough gap, your burglar can slide in a coat hanger or similar metal wire and hook the emergency release latch, manually opening the door.

Although you can prevent this kind of break-in by securing the emergency release lever with a zip tie, you should ultimately invest in a newer garage door with reinforced steel.

Older Systems Are Easier to Hack

In the past, garage door manufacturers relied on 8 to 12 dip switches to program their door openers. These switches had approximately 256 to 4,096 available codes, so the chances of your neighbor having the same code were slim.

However, some thieves have created wireless remotes from Mattel toys (the discontinued IM_ME) that can test every possible combination available. In just a few seconds, a burglar could open your door and walk inside just as easily as if he had pressed the button on your garage door opener.

If your garage door relies on this old fixed code method, you should talk to a professional about upgrading your system to a rolling code. Rolling code doors change their combination every time you press the button to open your door. And with billions of possible code combinations, your garage door has a much smaller risk of a break-in.

Old Locks Are Simple to Pick

Many older garage doors feature a T-handle or L-shaped lock on the outside panel. You can use this mechanism to secure your garage door from the outside, preventing unwanted guests from opening your door, even if your system does rely on a fixed code.

Unfortunately, these T-locks are among the most basic security methods, with just a few wafer tumblers standing between your home and a break-in. An experienced thief can pick these locks in just a few minutes with few bent paperclips or bobby pins.

To enhance security, you’ll want to invest in a garage door with a sliding bolt lock. These sliding bolts don’t rely on cylinders and tumblers, and they jut out several inches past the door rail, making them difficult to grab and manipulate with a coat hanger wire.

If you feel particularly nervous about break-ins and theft, you can further secure these sliding bolt locks with a padlock at the end of the device.

Upgrade Your Door to Improve Security

Older garage doors have multiple weak points and several ways to work around or damage their security mechanisms. If you want to deter thieves and protect your home, call on a garage door expert to install a newer, stronger door and system.