One of the more tricky areas of window installation is figuring out what to do with the security system, how to make sure it doesn’t get damaged, and who is responsible for making sure the system works once your new windows are installed.
Most homeowners overlook these questions during the planning stages of their window replacement or assume that the installers will take care of everything. In reality, this isn’t so. In this post, we’ll go over what you need to know about what happens to your security system on the day of the installation and can prepare accordingly.
Whether you are considering improving your home security or not, a window replacement is a good time to address it. A lot of additional security improvements can be incorporated right into modern windows. We’ll also examine some upgrades you can get in and around your new windows and doors to avoid unwanted break-ins.
What to do with your existing security system before a window replacement?
If you have security sensors on your existing windows, make sure to contact the monitoring provider prior to your window installation to find out what the best process for removing and reconnecting them is. Even if you’re leaving the disconnecting of your sensors to the installers, make sure to notify your security company of the upcoming installation to avoid any confusion on the day of.
Although window installers are responsible for exposing the security system wiring outside the window casing, a full-frame window replacement may compromise the existing connection, or leave not enough length of wiring to be run to the outside to reconnect the system. With retrofit window replacements, the existing frames remain in place and there is a lot less disturbance to the security system wiring.
Most window companies will go ahead and remove the security sensors during the installation, even though they are not supposed to, as any security equipment is technically the property of the company that installed it and should be handled by their technicians. Remember, even though they may physically be able to, most installers don’t actually have a license to run wiring. That is a job that should be left specifically for electricians.
Window Security: How To Best Protect Your New Windows
Essentially, protecting your home from a break-in comes down to two factors: preventing someone from being able to physically enter your home, and monitoring it in order to recognize a break-in is happening and quickly alert the authorities.
Our digital age has created a lot of advancements on the home security front. A variety of security systems and devices are now available to homeowners at a range of budgets. Most of these gadgets can also be installed with relative ease, and a lot of homeowners are moving away from relying on security companies, choosing to monitor their homes on their own instead. Just as there are choices when it comes to how and who will monitor your home, there are plenty of choices when it comes to preventing someone from forcing their way inside and securing your life and belongings.
Security Features in Modern Windows
It only makes sense that preventing entry through the window or a door should begin with the actual window and door. Vinyl windows today incorporate a lot of security features into their design. Slider windows, for example, come standard with security latches that allow your window to be left ajar without someone being able to push the sash open all the way. Crank windows come standard with multi-point locks, so when these windows are closed they are virtually impossible to pry open. Modern patio doors can also be customized with key locks and security bars. Windows for larger openings can also be built in a combination of smaller windows, making each individual window too small for entry. All these design features in the frame leave the glass pane as the most viable point of entry for would-be intruders. And this is an area where you as a homeowner have a choice to make as to how much protection you want.
There are a couple of methods of reinforcing the glass in your windows. The first level option is getting tempered glass. Tempered glass is much more durable than regular glass and takes some effort to break. It is also one of the cheaper options for reinforced glass.
Laminated glass, also known as safety glass, is another excellent option for your home’s windows. Laminated glass usually consists of a layer of polyvinyl butyral (PVB) between two sheets of regular glass. PVB bonds the two panes together into one and acts as a layer of protection against breakage. To break through safety glass, a burglar would have to strike repeatedly in the same spot, creating a lot of noise and racket. Even after repeated strikes the PVB interlayer keeps the glass intact and doesn’t allow for entry unless the whole pane is pushed out of the window frame. Laminated glass also has an additional benefit of noise-reduction and is often used in bedrooms for that reason.
Ideally, window sensors get placed on every door and window in the house, though some people only use them on the lower level to save money. If a door or window gets opened or breached when the alarm is on, the sensor either sends a signal to the main control panel, triggering an alarm or triggers an internal alarm and starts making a noise.
Door and window sensors come in two pieces. One fits onto the door or window itself, while the other part attaches to the frame. Adhesive usually keeps the sensors in place, though some sensors can also be screwed directly into the frame. The two pieces of the sensor interact when they are next to each other. When they are separated, such as when the door or window is opened, they send a signal to the alarm panel. The connection between the two sensor pieces is formed in one of several ways. Some sensors rely on magnets to create the connection. When the two parts of the sensor are separated, the magnetic field is broken and the alarm goes off. Others rely on a light beam, with one piece of the sensor generating the light and the other receiving it. Some sensors also come with infrared capabilities and go off when they detect motion.
Sensors are either wired directly into your alarm system or have a battery to power them so they can function wirelessly. Wired window sensors require more time and effort to install, and can malfunction or trigger an alarm if the line is interrupted. A disadvantage of wireless sensors is that their batteries need frequent checking to ensure they don’t run low.
Smart home alarm systems today work with smart hubs or smart bridges for connectivity with the rest of your home, which allow for more functionality (like flashing the lights when an alarm goes off). They can also notify you immediately if a door or a window has been opened, as well as give you an option to monitor the entryways to your home in real time.
The old but reliable method of preventing entry into your home is by placing security bars over your windows. Of course, the big disadvantage of bars is they obstruct the view to the outside, and can make smaller rooms feel like prison cells. A big advantage of security bars is they don’t require any “smart” technology and as long as they are locked, the security bars are impossible to open or pry off. Another big advantage of security bars is they prevent children from falling out of the window, which has become an increasing concern for parents in the recent years. AC units in older windows can also be pried out to gain access to the window. Depending on how far your AC unit protrudes outside the window, it is possible to get security bars to cover the unit.
Check out this Pinterest for some innovative security bar ideas from around the world.
Bars or Security System: Which One Should You Get?
It is difficult to determine whether a security system or good old metal bars are better at preventing an intrusion into your home. If you aren’t planning to replace your windows anytime soon you may consider settling for security bars in the meantime and upgrading to a more sophisticated system when you decide to replace your windows.
Protect Yourself: Security Tips For Your Entire Home
All security experts say that no home is completely break-in proof. The goal is to make it a less appealing target, and not allow for a stealth and quick entry. Here are some tricks you can follow to deter a potential intruder from gaining entry into your home.
- Make it look like someone is home: Burglars scout neighborhoods for houses where someone has been away for a while. Automatic light timers are great for making it look like someone is at home throughout different parts of the day.
- Ask friends and family to check in: If you are going away for a prolonged period of time ask friends or neighbors to check in once in a while. A shoveled driveway or footprints in the snow give the home a lived-in appearance. How much mail is in a mailbox is also a good indication of how long ago someone left.
- Light up your entryways: Motion-sensor lights above doors are great for making someone seen, and a burglar is less likely to operate when they are exposed.
- Conceal all wiring: If you do have a home security system, make sure none of the wires are in plain sight where they can be cut.
- Get deadbolt locks: these locks are a lot more difficult to open without power tools.
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