Multipoint Locking Systems On Front Doors

If your front door has a normal multipoint locking system (MPL), you might want to confirm if the outside handle opens the latch bolt.

In times gone by we didn’t worry much about the thought of someone walking in through our door uninvited; these days we do. The typical front door MPL has what is known as a split spindle or a twin spindle. I doesn’t matter what that is; it’s the effect that’s important. What it should mean is that the inside handle will open the door but the outside handle won’t; only the key opens the door from the outside – even if the bolts haven’t been set.

I’ve just come back from a new development in which none of the dwellings were fitted with the correct kind of MPL.  In all of these dwellings, the only way to prevent anyone from just walking in (while you’re inside) is to set the bolts (in the normal way by pushing the handle up) and then to use the key to lock the handle. But that means that you’ve deadlocked yourself in; which can be a fire hazard. Now some of these dwellings were ground floor, which isn’t too bad; but some were first or second floor, which is bad.

One possibility would be to replace the cylinder with one where the inside half is operated by a thumbturn rather than a key. But due to another stupid piece or design (which we can’t go into here) that wasn’t viable.

It’s easy enough to check. Open the door. Locate the latch bolt, which will almost certainly be near the middle of the door edge. It has triangular profile; i.e. one face is bevelled. With the door open, operate the inside handle by pushing it downwards (again assuming you have a normal MPL door) – you should see the latch bolt retract. Now, with the door open, operate the outside handle downwards. If the latch bolt retracts then anyone can walk in unless you deadbolt the door. If the latch bolt doesn’t retract and only the key can retract the latch bolt from outside, then you’re OK.

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