35 cent security: 'putting the screws' to home invaders

35 cent security: 'putting the screws' to home invaders
A longer three inch screw (Source: WMC Action News 5)
A longer three inch screw (Source: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - It's a 35 cent solution that's made Jennifer Dobbs feel a lot more secure. "A great, great deal more secure," she emphasized.

The Midtown resident said she feels safer now that Aaron James, coordinator of the Cooper-Young Neighborhood Watch Association, has removed the standard half inch to three-quarter inch screws and strike plate from her front door and replaced them with a six-screw plate that carries three inch screws.

"We're tripling the length of the screws," James said. "The three inch screws go through the door jamb and into the actual framing stud."

"It's structurally much more sound," said Tony Salvaggio, owner of Memphis Door & Hardware, 7734 Poplar Pike in Germantown, Tennessee. "When we use a three inch screw, this increases the integrity of the door jamb."

To prove it, Salvaggio built us two doors side-by-side, each with its own jamb and standard side studs. One latched shut with a standard half inch screw set and strike plate. On the other, Salvaggio removed the half inch screws and replaced them with three inch screws.

With one swift kick, WMC Action News 5's Chief Consumer Investigator Andy Wise obliterated the door with the half inch screws. A chunk of the jamb splintered on the ground, along with the screws. But even after a half dozen attempts, Andy could not kick down the door with the three inch screws. It held tight as the screws had sunk deep into the frame's studs, not just into the jamb.

And, yes, the longer screws cost us 35 cents. "This is a real inexpensive way to beef up your security," Salvaggio said.

James added consumers should not use the three inch screws that come with replacement strike plates. He demonstrated how those screws are made of weaker metal, snapping one in half. Instead, he suggested consumers buy the stronger steel three inch screws sold separately in home improvement stores' hardware aisles.

The three inch screw trick reinforces your doors, with or without deadbolt locks. But if your doors are French doors with glass inserts -- or if there are windows near your doorknobs or deadbolts -- James recommended replacing standard latch deadbolts with double-sided key lock deadbolts. That way, someone can't break the glass and turn the deadbolt's latch. James installed that additional feature for Dobbs at a nominal fee of $30.

"I'm very pleased. It's going to mean a lot, especially at night," Dobbs said.

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