How to Install Garage Door Locks in 5 Minutes

In Home Security by Jody4 Comments

A garage door can be one of the weakest links in your home’s security.  That can be especially true if your garage entrance is shielded from view of the road or if you do not live close to your neighbors.  And, you can be certain that a burglar will attempt to enter your home as quickly, quietly, and discretely as he can.  So, why not supplement the security features of your existing garage door with garage door locks while you’re out of town.

Even if you have an automatic garage door closer (a cheap security addition on Amazon) to make sure you don’t leave your door open when you leave home, this is still a good solution for those long vacations.

With that in mind, we’re going to cover an easy DIY garage door security tip that you can implement in a few minutes before you leave town for a few days on vacation or to visit family and friends.

Head’s up

These tips should supplement the ones provided in our previous garage door security article about securing your garage door emergency release.

Secure your garage door emergency release

This fix applies to automatic garage doors as well as manual garage doors with external garage door locks on them, because we all know that locks can be defeated. Otherwise, the world wouldn’t have locksmiths.

How to Engage Your Supplemental Garage Door Locks

First, if you have a manual garage door, engage the garage door lock on the outside.  Or, if you have an automatic garage door, most of these offer electronic garage door locks that will keep the door from being opened by someone with a scanner.  If your garage door opener doesn’t have one, you can always get a ladder and unplug the motor.

garage door keypad lock

Garage door keypad lock (top slide switch)

A short history of garage door opener security

In decades long past, garage door codes would be set via semi-permanent switches on the garage door opener and keyed to a particular set of remotes.  Unfortunately, that led to a very small amount of codes for each manufacturer that a criminal could reproduce very quickly from a device as he drove around a neighborhood..  Once he found a door that would open, he could pull right in, close the door, and proceed to break into your inner door and loot your house without being disturbed.

Or, they could target a specific home and intercept the code from your opener when you closed the garage door leaving home and come back a few minutes later to help themselves to your possessions.

Eventually, manufacturers recognized the vulnerability of this method and new technology made rolling codes possible.  As the name implies, these are constantly changing, but are synchronized with your remotes so that they can still open the door.  The rolling codes made intercepting a transmitted code useless, and a brute force attack by trying every code in one of the new digital devices became much more difficult since you would only be part of the way through the list before the code would change.


Think of it like this:
You start to open a combination lock like the one you had on your locker at school or the one on your briefcase.  But, by the time you guess the first number of the combination, I’ve already changed all 3 numbers to a new combination.  I know . . . frustrating right?

Even with rolling codes, a thief can still exploit the emergency release or improper installation to open your garage door.  The solution is to apply an additional, temporary garage door lock on the INSIDE of your garage door before you leave town.  I’ll show you a couple of ways that you could do that with things you may already have at your house.

The C-clamp method

This is my preferred method because it doesn’t require any special tools to remove it when you come back from your trip.

  1. Grab a large C clamp from your tool stash.
    spare C-clamp

    $5 clamp

  2. Find the wheel attached to your garage door that travels in the track when your garage opens.
    Garage door security

    Garage door roller

  3. Tighten the C clamp in the track directly above the wheel.
    Garage door lock

    Installed Clamp

Easy right?  Now, even if a thief had your remote, the garage door would not open because of the obstruction in the track above the wheel.  Go ahead and try it.

Just make sure you back your car out before you lock up. 🙂

The Bolt Method

  1. Grab a matching nut and bolt set (preferably at least a ½” diameter and 2” length).
  2. Find the wheel in the track that you want to secure.
  3. Drill a hole slightly larger than the bolt in the track above the wheel.
  4. Insert the bolt from the outside (near your garage wall) of the track so that it protrudes into the track.
  5. Tighten the nut on the inside to secure the bolt.

The Combination/MasterLock Method

  1. Grab that spare lock that you have from your high school locker 20 years ago (meet your new garage door lock).
  2. Find the wheel in the track that you want to secure.
  3. Drill a hole slightly larger than the loop in the lock in the track above the wheel.
  4. Insert the lock through the rail and close it.

Regardless of which method you choose, you now have an additional, physical garage door lock to keep the door from being rolled up to let someone in while you’re gone.

Now, you can truly relax on your vacation knowing that your new garage door lock is protecting your home against would-be criminals even as you’re swaying in your hammock.  If your door is like mine, you now have physical and electronic garage door locks to deter thieves while you’re away from your home.

Whatever you do, just don’t get down the road and realize you’ve forgotten to close the door.  To fix that problem, you’ll be wasting some driving time back to the house unless you have a smart garage door like the ones in our home automation product comparison.

Enjoy!

secure your garage door, then relax

Relax, you earned it!

See something that helped you? You can do two good deeds today! Support our site and help your friends secure their home by sharing this article.

Share this Post

Comments

  1. In my opinion! Secure the door leading into your home from your garage. Making sure have a deadbolt on this door is a great way to ensure extra security for your home.

    1. Agree, I’m with you there. I just don’t want to give a burglar a sheltered space to work in to drill or break off my deadbolt. That’s especially true since Samy Kamkar showed how easily rolling codes can be captured. http://samy.pl/opensesame/

  2. Some good ideas here! However, regarding the C Clamp method, wouldn’t it be possible to use a crowbar from outside and still open the door?

    1. Author

      Are you saying they would pry the door up in the track? If so, the C clamp would likely slide upwards and frustrate their efforts. I suppose they might pry an opening in the side of the door and either bend the track or a roller assembly, but at that point it’s probably easier to just break a window.

      If they really wanted in, the could probably kick a cheap garage door in enough to slip by. But, home security is a layered affair. So, the more time and noise they make getting in, the better chance you have of the neighbors calling the cops or picking them up on a camera.

Leave a Comment