What are security pin hinges?

There are many security issues related to exterior doors. Home security is always relative to how bad someone wants to get in.  For example a sliding glass door is only as secure as the nearest brick or planter.  The problem with that approach to opening doors is that it is VERY NOISY and therefore avoided by most intruders.  That said, we like to do what we can to make our doors as secure as possible—-without being an “open” invitation.

Security pin hinges

Secruity pin hinge with set screw present

Today I am only going to focus on exterior “out-swinging” doors, and the issue of “security type hinges.”  Out-swing exterior doors should have hinges installed with hinges that either have hinge halves that interlock or that have pins with set screws.  These set-screw type hinges are the most common in my area—-when they are there.  Sometimes they are present but the set screw is missing.  When it is missing the hinge is then no different than any regular hinge where the pin can be removed.

The purpose of these security type hinges is that you don’t want to be able to remove the pins and thus be able to remove the door regardless of whether it is locked or not.  This is a very simple fix and is simply a matter of changing one of the hinges to the type that has a set screw.  I would guess that about 50 percent of the out-swing doors I inspect, as a Seattle Home Inspector, do not have hinges with security-pins.  About 10 percent of the ones that do, have missing set screws.

If you have out-swinging exterior doors you should check to see if at least one of the hinges is a security type hinge—-either the interlocking type, or the security-pin type.  If it is the security-pin type, does it have a set screw in place?

Amongst all the rust and less than professional painting—-or the need for painting—-can you see the set-screw at the center of the hinge in the picture above?


Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector

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  1. Daniel Rogers says:

    Very rare to see out-swing entry doors in Virginia beach residential dwellings. When I do see one, my first instinct is to look down because the majority of the time the threshold will be backwards because the door was installed backwards. I think for security and fire egress purposes, all residential entry doors should be designed as out-swing. All the homes I see broken into are just kicked in and the soft pine door jamb busted out. Hard to do with an out-swing door. Some might not like the ides of not having a storm door but if it’s a standard thermal insulated door and storm door is not needed and not recommended because it can cause heat damage.

    • Charles Buell says:

      Totally agree Dan. I have seen lots of in-swing doors installed as out-swing doors—and you are right the threshold sure looks odd 🙂 I have also seen the damage done when storm doors are installed over steel and vinyl doors. Good way to void the warranty. (glad to see your commenting is working today)

  2. R Rafferty says:

    Can’t an intruder unscrew the exterior hinges and take the door off?
    (I had to ask again so I could receive follow-up comments).
    Thank you

  3. James Crowson says:

    Hi thanks for your article. My builder is installing outswing door for the garage exit door. At first, I was very nervous about this. But I suppose with a set screw prevents someone from removing the hinge. I feel better about security now. Again, thanks.

  4. Where cab i buy the hinges with the set screw ?
    Thanks for the info !

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