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Multipoint locks are available in a variety of designs, but generally include a centrally located deadbolt and a live bolt (latch), at least two hook bolts and possibly a pair of compression bolts. The bolts are normally operated by lifting the door handle from either side of the door leaf and are locked in place by the turn of a key from either face of the door or, if the door is the only means of escape, by an internal thumbturn. The compression bolts, if fitted, and or the hook bolts pull the door tightly into the weather seals in the frame to keep it weather tight. Some versions have additional bolting into the top and bottom frames and even into the hinge side of the frame. There are others that automatically engage all the bolts as the door closes, but these tend to be a lot more expensive.
Most enhanced secure doorsets are fitted with multi-point locks, but there are still lots of enhanced secure timber and composite doors that still use the rim nightlatch and BS 3621 mortice lock combination. There is a standard for testing and certifying multi-point locks: PAS 3621:2011 Multipoint locking assemblies. Keyed egress. Performance requirements and test methods. In the same vein as mortice locks and rim nightlatches they will be available with keyless egress (PAS 8621) and dual mode (PAS 10621).
The difference between solid and split spindle operation
For a long time there has been a debate about whether these multi-point locks should have a solid or split spindle operation on the outside handle. The police initiative for new homes, Secured by Design, doesn’t recommend either way, but there are advantages and disadvantages with both.
If your multi-point locking door has a split spindle it means that when you go outside and close the door you will need a key to get back in. This is because if you push down the outside handle it will not operate the latch bolt in the door. It is in fact the key that turns the latch bolt. Conversely the handle on the inside of the door will operate the latch bolt. (My front door is like this.)
· If you go out and forget to engage the multi-point locks at least the latch is holding the door, so thieves can’t just walk in
· When you walk in and close the door behind you thieves can’t just open the door and follow you in
· If you go to bed at night and forget to throw the multi-point locks and lock them in place using a key (or possibly a thumbturn if you live in an apartment), a thief can force his way in by levering the door close to the latch or by putting a stick through the letter plate to knock down the internal handle (If you haven’t got a letter plate deflector). This is a very common method used by burglars at night and during the day - even when people are at home!
If your multi-point locking door has a solid spindle it means that when you go outside and close the door you will not need a key to get back in. This is because if you push down the outside handle it will operate the latch bolt in the door. The handle on the inside of the door will also operate the latch bolt. If you live in a block of flats you are very likely to have this type of spindle so that you don’t accidentally lock yourself out, which could be extremely dangerous if, having investigated a possible fire, you need to retreat into your flat to escape the flames or dense smoke. (This is why the flat door will be fire resistant).
· When you go to bed at night you will know that a burglar can simply open your door from the outside using the handle and, if you haven’t done so already, you will remember to engaged the multi-point locks and lock them in place
· When you go out you will know that you have to engage the multi-point locks as otherwise a thief can just open the door and walk in
· It is unlikely that you will lock yourself out accidentally
· You have to remember to engage and lock the multi-point locks each time you use the door
· The first two advantages rely on your memory. Police colleagues in London and the South East counties have reported incidents where elderly people in particular have forgotten to engage the multi-point locks during the day and have suffered burglary and robbery as a result
Except for flats that are above ground floor level, which have to have solid spindles for sound fire safety reasons, I marginally come down in favour of the split spindle for houses for three reasons:
· If the multi-point locks have not been engaged, but there is a deflector on the back of the letter plate then a daytime entry into an occupied dwelling is unlikely
· Many elderly people suffer from arthritis in their hands and it can sometimes be very difficult (and painful) to have to operate the handle on numerous occasions throughout the day
· Some older people (and some younger ones!) have poor memories and it is better to have something (the latch, which cannot be opened by the outside handle) than nothing – providing there is a hood over the letter plate
However, in spite of all that has been said above it is fundamentally about ones memory. For no matter what the spindle arrangement might be, the doorset is not properly secure unless the multi-point locks have been engaged and locked into position. I think you insurance company might take the same view.
Using your multi-point locking door correctly
Lots of people are not using a multi-point locking door correctly and this is leading to thousands of unnecessary burglaries each year. Click here to find out more and to see our guide to correct use (with pictures!)
Updated November 2014, January 2018