I recently became a victim of an attempted break-in, it’s not a pleasant experience and one I would rather have avoided, but in this day and age, you are very lucky not to have been exposed to this sort of crime at some point.
The would-be thieves tried to smash in the back door to my home by breaking off the Euro Cylinder lock, lucky I disturbed them mid-entry and prevented the thieves from entering our home and taking anything.
When I surveyed the damage to the door lock, I realized just how close they were to getting inside. I did some research about how to change the euro-cylinder locks and also found that you can upgrade euro locks and improve security, here’s what I found:
To change a Euro-cylinder door lock, undo the locating screw, align the cam using the key and remove the lock from the door, then measure its length, and replace with a new Anti-bump, Anti-drill, Anti-snap Euro-lock, locate in the door housing and replace the locating screw, test to check it works.
Euro-cylinder locks are very common, but unless you have the right sort fitted they are not the best at preventing entry, in this post find out how to change your locks and upgrade your security and really protect your home.
How Euro-cylinder locks work
Most homes these days have some sort of PVCu door, whether it be the main entrance at the front of the house or the back door or patio entrance.
These plastic doors will invariably have a multi-point locking system and a Euro-cylinder lock to keep them closed to protect against intruders.
The multi-point mechanism pushes several bolts which are spaced around the door into the door frame all at once to hold the door shut, the bolts are usually closed when the handle is lifted.
Euro Cylinder locks use a key that releases a pin tumbler mechanism to allow a cam to turn with the key, which can operate any number of door locking units.
They are fitted through the lock case and are normally secured by a screw that passes through the face of the lock case.
By turning the key it rotates a cam which then drives the deadbolt in the lock case into the lock keep in the door frame and secures the door in place.
It is the Euro cylinder lock cam that prevents the multi-point locking mechanism from moving once the door is closed and locked.
Euro cylinders come in different lengths and can be single-sided or doubled, depending on the requirements of the door, but for most domestic doors they are double-sided with either a key on both sides or a key for the outside and turn knob on the inside.
The cam is turned using the lock key, and cannot be moved without it. This type of mechanism is both reliable and easy to use and creates a strong locking mechanism holding the door closed.
What’s wrong with Euro-cylinder locks and why you need to change them
The morning after the attempted break-in, I got up and checked the damage properly, the outer part of the door handle was smashed off at the bottom, the bit that surrounds the lock and the lock was broken in half, the outer part was missing.
Fortunately, the door still worked and there was no damage to the door frame or door. The criminals were targeting the lock and there’s a reason…
With the Euro cylinder broken in half and the outer part missing the door can easily be unlocked, and the multipoint mechanism can be turned.
So what I had thought was a secure door was in fact just seconds away from being open and completely unlocked!!
This is one problem with standard Euro cylinder locks; they can be broken in half, allowing the door to be opened, and criminals know this and it is why they target them, as breaking the lock off means quick entry to your property, they can get in and take what they can reach and get out and it the reason I decided to upgrade mine.
I not only needed to replace the lock, I needed to find something better in case anyone tried again, and there are much better locks which I will explain in more detail further in this post.
How to remove a Euro-cylinder lock
Changing a euro-cylinder lock is a relatively quick and easy DIY job, with only a couple of tools required:
- A cross-head (pozi-drive) screwdriver,
- A pair of pliers
- Some gloves.
You normally won’t need to remove the handles from the door, however, if you do to allow access to the lock following steps will help
There are often just two screws holding the inner and outer parts or the door handle together, the screws are accessed from the inside and are unscrewed using a cross-head screwdriver and turning them anti-clockwise to loosen them.
Remove the covers and make sure the return springs clips, which return the handles when you turn them, are not lost or drop on the floor.
With the door open and looking at the thin edge of the door, the faceplate and the lock will be accessible, the faceplate just covers the locking mechanism and can be removed by undoing the screws holding it in place this will give you access to the cylinder lock retaining screw.
Unscrew the euro cylinder retaining screw from the front edge of the door and lock case (this releases the lock from the door).
Slide the lockout from the door, if the lock does want to locate you may need to use the key to align the cam properly to allow the lock to pass through the hole in the door. It can take a bit of jiggling.
Put all the parts safely to one side, as you will need to reuse some of them to refit the handles in a few minutes
How to measure a Euro-cylinder lock
To replace your lock and upgrade your security, it is best to measure the overall length of the lock and the distance to the cam from one end before you purchase a replacement, that way you know what size and split the lock is.
Using a tape or ruler, measure from the inside face to the center of the cam (dimension ‘A”) then do the same for the outer face (dimension ‘B’).
You can also work out the length of the lock you need by measuring the thickness of the door itself, this means you don’t need to take the lock out of the door first, however, this is not as accurate.
How do you upgrade your door locks?
To make your PVCu doors more secure the easiest way is to replace the standard Euro cylinder lock unit with an upgrade, which is exactly what I did
For a few bucks more than a basic unit, you can improve your home security and help prevent thieves from entering your home.
In the UK look for Euro cylinder locks that are British Kitemarked TS007:2014 with 3-star accreditation.
I went to my local locksmiths and purchased a much better Euro cylinder lock, there are several versions available, and the main features to look for are:
These versions are far better at stopping an attack on your door, than the standard units.
The anti-snap feature stops the door from being vulnerable once the lock has been attacked with a hammer, as was the case for me.
The Anti-drill feature stops thieves from drilling out the lock and the Anti bump eliminates the option to bump the pins inside the lock.
The Anti Snap lock is made in 3 sections, the outer section is designed to break off leaving the main parts of the lock intact and the door locked and secure, this means thieving gits cannot get access to the lock from outside and would mean trying another method, which will take longer and increase the risk of being caught and work as a much better deterrent
Why do door manufacturers use low-quality locks? Generally, because they are fairly cheap and easy to fit and work very well with a number of different locking mechanisms making them very versatile.
How to fit the Euro cylinder lock
Take the new high-security anti-snap lock and check you have the right orientation with the outer side facing toward the outside face of the door.
This type of lock has to be fitted correctly to work but you can’t get this wrong as the lock stops you from fitting it the wrong way round.
With a little bit of jiggling fit the new euro cylinder into the locking mechanism in the door again, you will need the key to turn the cam so that it fits through the hole.
Align the ends equally so that the same amount of lock sticks out of the door on both sides, this helps align the fixing hole in the lock case to allow the securing screw to be refitted.
Once the securing screw is almost home, but not tight, refit the door handle return springs to the handles.
Starting with the outside first, slide the handles over the square key, and replace the fixing screws, you may need to adjust the alignment a little which is why we left the screws loose.
With everything in the right place, tighten all the screws.
Check the handles operate without issue, check for sticking or any fouling as you turn the handle.
Then check the door shuts properly and the multipoint system works (usually by lifting the handle upwards, but check your door manufactures manual to be sure).
When you are confident the door works, open the door and try turning the key in the lock a few times.
Adding a quick squirt of lubricant such as GT85 is a good idea.
Then close the door and lock it, check it is secure.
Try opening, closing, locking and unlocking it a few times
Once you are happy that everything works, give the door a good wipe with a clean rag.
What size are Euro-cylinder locks?
Euro-cylinder locks are all the same size profile so they have a universal fit, however, they can vary in length, and they range from 60mm long up to 105mm.
The location of the cam can vary too, this means they can be used in lots of different door and window mechanisms here a list of the most common sizes and combinations, the split denotes how far the cam is positioned along the length of the lock body:
I hope that the information above helps you to protect your home and belongings. Please bear in mind that even the most well-defended home may not stop a really determined criminal, but improving your security and upgrading your locks should help to slow them down, giving you a much better chance of calling the police.
Stay safe and for more great information on how to improve your security and protect your home read our post on more ways to improve home security.