Hash-ing Out Installation Issues

June 23, 2022
Multipoint locking is an excellent solution for cannabis and other facilities, but watch out for potential pitfalls in the field.

Cannabis facilities are proliferating cash-heavy businesses that have stock that has a high street value and is highly flammable. They also are targeted by organized retail crime. As a  result, many struggle with insurance coverage and claims.

For cannabis facilities, prevention is the primary form of protection, and just any commercial lock won’t do. Heavy-duty multipoint locks can be a cornerstone to keeping cannabis facilities safe and secure. A locksmith who understands the finer points of installing multipoint locks not only will enhance a facility’s security, but they also will be a valued resource for the growing niche of cannabis for years to come.

The Basics

Burglars who try to break through doors haven’t created special methods for cannabis facilities. They still rely on brute force to separate the door from the frame. Crowbars and similar tools are used between the lock edge of the door and frame to collapse the door and get past the deadbolt.

Multipoint locks provide advanced protection for critical doors by deploying at least three deadbolts into the frame, at the top, bottom and middle points of a door, and the most advanced versions have additional bolts on the hinge side. Prying no longer is a simple way to defeat the locks. Similarly, using a truck to ram the door can overcome a traditional single point of locking, but multipoint locks provide more resistance.

Multipoint locks come in many configurations. They’re available as lever-operated locks and as exit devices, and their use is defined by the code requirements for the door. Different bolting configurations (horizontal and vertical combos) and models are available for single doors and pairs of doors that have mullions or don’t. Surface and concealed versions are available, although concealed multipoint locks require factory-prepared doors. Surface models are ideal for retrofit applications.

The most sophisticated multipoint locks are fully automatic and have trigger mechanisms that release the deadbolts every time the door closes. Multipoint lock functions range from keyed storeroom and classroom to passage, exit only and bolt holdback. Many don’t even require a latch bolt for fire code because of the nature of their self-bolting characteristics.

Multipoint locks also can be equipped for full electronic access control (EAC) integration and signaling and often are used with mantrap logic controllers that have EAC to protect high-value and sensitive areas. Back-of-house perimeter door models also can incorporate signaling to local battery-operated door alarms and strobes. 

These multipoint locking attributes can be configured to provide the cannabis facility with the highest security achievable and stand up to the rigors of weather and use at busy delivery and employee entrances.

Service Issues

Although multipoint deadbolting exponentially increases security, it also increases the opportunities for bolt and control-rod misalignments, specifically with the strikes or openings in the frame. This is the No. 1 service issue on multipoint locks.

Misalignments can occur during door prep, during an installation or as the door, frame and saddle gradually sag and shift with age and use.

Anything that causes misalignment on a multipoint lock opening also will cause friction, and friction is the enemy of multipoint locks. In fact, a large percentage of “lock faults” are determined to be related to other door and hardware problems, but as with locks in general, multipoint locks too often are blamed, because they’re the most visible and important locking element.

Surveys Done Right

It’s particularly important to consider the door as a total opening when surveying for a multipoint lock installation. A door is an assembly of moving components that must work accurately and in harmony. Here are initial points to keep in mind when surveying:

  • Consider the expected daily traffic volume (duty cycles) of the opening.
  • Check the integrity of the door, frame and saddle. Are there internal vertical rib stiffeners or lock supports to avoid or eliminate? Is the frame concrete-filled? Is the saddle anchored tightly? Is there any rot?
  • Check for plumb and square. Check for gaps of even one-eighth of an inch at the header and stiles.
  • Inspect the door bottom for its flush or recessed channel type and its overall condition.
  • Measure all door dimensions. Measure the undercut to the finished floor. Record the handing.
  • Check the method of hanging and its condition. Worn or sagging hinges must be replaced. Ideally, they should be upgraded to the next weight class and be NRP types. Consider a reinforcing pivot hinge to eliminate future sagging.
  • As necessary, determine the type and location of the new power-transfer method.
  • Check the location and type of existing floor stop, because this might have to be changed.
  • Check the operation of the door closer. It must be in good condition and have the suitable size, speed and control adjustments appropriate to handle the added weight of a new multipoint lock.

On the Job

When it’s time to install a multipoint lock, some additional security options and considerations will enhance your installation.

  • On some multipoint locks, a latching panic saddle for the bottom rod latch is advisable. 
  • Automatic security door bottoms can help to prevent lever-grasping tools from being inserted under the door.
  • Full-length security astragals, anti-pry plates and latch guards can be crucial additions.
  • Thru-bolting back plate locations should be visualized, as should stile width and any vision lights or glass bead.
  • Kick plates might be desirable.
  • Surface or concealed overhead stops, or floor or wall types might be required.
  • Multipoint locks that feature vandal-resistant lever clutches that break away when forced limit damage to the lock. Some multipoint locks have frangible levers that snap off their shanks if excessive pulling force is applied, such as by a chain from a truck.
  • Internal relockers and hub blockers can thwart access to critical internal lock components if the outside trim is removed forcibly.
  • Cylinder lengths, keying formats and cams must be fully compatible with the specific multipoint lock being used.
  • Cylinder-protection collars add security, as do enhanced security retainment methods that lock into both side grooves of a mortise cylinder.
  • The types of signaling switches and the method of EAC integration should be well-planned. Allow for future expansion as necessary.
  • Determine the number of conductors required for the power transfer and harness. Check the ends for Molex types or bare leads and identify the proper power requirements.
  • Local alarms and delayed-egress options might be desired.

Troubleshooting Tips

Nearly all of the “total opening” observation elements listed above are a fundamental part of the troubleshooting process. Follow a sequence of logical steps to evaluate the root problem. It will reduce troubleshooting time almost as well as red lipstick for identifying misaligned elements.

If you’re called on to open a failed multipoint lock, it’s advisable to review the templates and instructions before attempting certain procedures. Contacting the factory for support is always a good idea. A few other tips:

  • Misaligned bolts, bent control rods and strikes are the top service issues on multipoint locks. If the total opening is out of sorts, the multipoint lock will be as well. 
  • When operating the lock, listen, watch and look for scraping on the bolts, and wearing at strikes, bolts and latches.
  • Check the strikes for debris. This is a common cause for bad lock operation. Dustproof strikes might be desirable.

The customer might always be right, as the saying goes, but they have to have the expertise of a locksmith to guide their decisions in locking solutions. That includes the cannabis industry. A multipoint lock is an excellent choice for security of any retail environment that has a concern about forced entry. Keeping the above in mind will improve your installations and prevent any operations from going to pot.

David Akins is director of product management at Securitech Group.

About the Author

David Akins

David Akins is director of product management at Securitech Group.