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Frequently Asked Questions

Should I change the combination of my safe?
How do I change the combination of my safe?
How do I choose a combination?
What other security precautions should I take?
What other general precautions should I take?
Should I keep the spare safe key, or bypass key in the safe?
What if I only have one key?
Why is my safe beeping or flashing at me?
What's best, combination lock, key lock or electronic lock?
What is special about underfloor safes?

Should I change the combination of my safe?

If you think that the combination may have been left set at the manufacturers default combination, then you should change it. And of course, if you suspect that someone who shouldn't know it does know it, then a change is best.

How do I change the combination of my safe?

If you haven't been shown by, nor have you practised with, someone who knows the procedure, then it may be best to ask us to help you change the combination.

If you do change the combination, do ensure that you try out the new combination three times with the door open before closing the safe door.

How do I choose a combination?

With nearly all combination-locks on serious safes (Sargent & Greenleaf, Lagard, Ilco, Chubb, ...), it's very important that you avoid choosing a number from the forbidden zone for the last number of the combination. If the last number is in the forbidden zone, then you risk the lock jamming open or jamming locked. Obviously if the lock jams locked with the door closed then it's bad news. The forbidden zone varies from make to make I'm afraid. If you weren't told about the forbidden zone, it might be best if you get us to change the combination for you.

Ideally, you use ten-sided dice to help obtain a fairly random combination. Very few people would actually do this, but do at least avoid birthdays, anniversaries, postcodes, etc.. Do avoid progressions: for example, each number being 10 different to the last.

Modern life is plagued by codes and PINs, but if you've bothered to have a safe, then its combination is one of the numbers you really shouldn't make guessable or write down anywhere nearby.

What other security precautions should I take?

If you have a key-lock safe, it's much more expensive to change keys, so carefully control who has the key and for how long. And don't leave the key in the lock or make it easily available anywhere else.

Consider if you are overlooked or observed as you enter a safe combination. There are so many cameras today that we take them for granted, but make sure there isn't a camera (or person) watching you enter the safe combination. And try not to mutter the numbers as you enter them.

What other general precautions should I take?

  • If something feels different or something changes, beware.
    Ideally, get us to come and check that everything is OK. Otherwise, try operating the bolts and locks with the door open before you try closing and locking the door.
  • Check for foreign objects and close the door gently with finger pressure.
    With a well-fitting door, even a piece of paper between the door and the wall can jam the door shut. Check for paper, paperclips, staples, etc., especially in the bottom bolt holes. If you are in the habit of closing the door with one finger, you are likely to feel the presence of a foreign object; if you habitually slam the door, a) you won't, and b) the safe will not last as long.
  • Make a note of the name of the manufacturer and of the model of the safe — there's probably a plate with this information on the back of the door.

Should I keep the spare safe key, or bypass key in the safe?

No, of course you shouldn't. But you'd be astonished at how many people do.

What if if I only have one key?

I'm afraid that the probability of losing keys seems to go up as the number of copies decreases. Finagle's Law says that if you only have one key and particularly if it's very important, you will almost certainly lose it or drop it and break it. Now, your local key cutter has probably told you that they can't make a copy, but there's a very good chance that we can (and there'll be no charge if we're wrong and we can't).

Why is my safe beeping or flashing at me?

Presumably it's an electronic digital safe lock and it's trying to tell you that its battery is nearly exhausted. It's very important that you open the safe, ensure that any bypass key isn't inside the safe and find those instructions on how to change the battery. (Or give us a call.)

What's best, combination lock, key lock or electronic lock?

A combination lock is more convenient. A key lock is more secure. A good set-up is one of each. (Electronic locks are a nightmare in my opinion. They are forever going wrong, and people frequently don't change the batteries when they should.)

What is special about underfloor safes?

Dirt falls into their mechanisms and they fail far earlier than a normal safe. If you have a choice as to what safe you get, don't get an underfloor safe. If you have a choice as to their siting, keep them away from the beer taps, the fat frier, the sawmill, etc. (Yes, we have come across all of those.) Make sure there is a lid, that it is a good fit and that it is always used. When the lid breaks, and they all do eventually, get it replaced. If the lid handle breaks, get it fixed otherwise people will stop using the lid.