Home security is an important concern for most families and one of the best ways to help improve it is to install security bars on your basement windows. There are several important factors to consider when choosing security bars:
1) Visible deterrent
2) Hard to tamper with
3) Hard to burn, bend, or cut
4) Not a fire hazard
Security bars are most effective when they act as a visual deterrent that discourages thieves from even trying to break in. Having a sturdy appearance and design is a big part of this visual cue but material can also be important. Steel and aluminum bars appear stronger and harder to cut through or tamper with so they tend to have a stronger visual impact than poly carbonate bars.
Simply having security bars is not always enough. In these situations you want to make sure the bars you choose will be as difficult as possible to remove or bypass. In this regard, bars that are installed individually and on the inside of the window are more difficult to tamper with.
The best option is to go to a machine shop and have custom bars created to fit your window. This is a more expensive option but it will provide the highest level of security.
Burning, Bending, and Cutting
The easiest way of bypassing security bars is to cut or burn through them. Remember that the thief is trying to avoid detection and anything likely to be noticed by people passing by is a great deterrent. Because of this, the best bars are those that will attract attention when tampered with.
Steel bars can be cut with a hacksaw but the process is noisy. Poly carbonate bars, however, are quieter to cut through but the process takes longer as they cannot be cut in one place and then bent out of the way as metal bars can. Aluminum bars, like steel, are noisy to cut but softer and therefore take less time.
A new practice for burglars is to burn their way through the bars. Butane lighters will weaken poly carbonate bars but steel and aluminum bars will stand up to higher levels of heat and will only give under a blowtorch. Burning their way through security bars is a smelly and time consuming process and is only likely to be undertaken in situations where they are fairly certain they will not be disturbed.
To meet fire safety codes in most places, at least one window in the basement must have an easy way to remove the bars from the inside without the need for a key. Check your local fire codes and make sure to use bars with release handles in at least one window.
Installation of security bars is a fairly simply project suitable for a DIY beginner. Once you have chosen your security bars, follow these steps or consult the installation manual for pre-fabricated sets.
1) Measure the window and decide where the bars will go.
2) Place your bars against the window frame and mark where your screws will go with a pencil.
3) Drill pilot holes for your screws.
4) When installing the bars, ensure the screws go all the way into the frame to prevent tampering