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7 Tips to Secure Your Basement Windows
Basement windows can sometimes be in hidden spots, like in the backyard or on the side of the house, which makes them more susceptible to breaking and entering.
Let’s talk about how you can protect the basement windows in your house, such as by lights, reinforcements, locks, cameras, security systems, window well covers, and strategically placed furniture.
1. Light up the outside
Some research suggests that lights deter crime.¹ But even if a light’s presence doesn’t give an intruder pause, it’ll increase your chances of catching one.
If you put a light in front of your basement windows, you’re more likely to see someone snooping around. Or, if you have motion-detector lights, you might spook that person off when the beam snaps on.
We generally prefer wire-free lights with motion detection, but not every outdoor light has it all.
To learn more about outdoor security lights, check out our full overview of the best outdoor security lights.
2. Reinforce the glass
If someone is brazen enough to enter your home uninvited, they’re probably not above breaking a few windows. The solution? Consider putting window film on your basement windows.
Not necessarily. While some window film comes in pre-cut pieces, a lot of it comes in rolls. You’re supposed to cut it to a custom size.
Some film makes a window more resistant to being broken, but that’s not its true purpose. The real beauty of window film is that once the window is shattered, the film keeps the shards of glass hanging in place. That dashes the intruder’s hopes of cleanly sliding through the empty window frame.
We especially recommend window film for windows that don’t open, like some glass block windows. Windows that can’t open are more likely to be broken since there’s no other way to get through them.
(Window film is sometimes also known as security film.)
3. Add window locks
Do everything you can to make your basement windows impossible to open from the outside. That means adding locks where possible.
The kind of lock you should get depends on which of the following windows you have in your basement:
- A horizontal sliding window
- A vertical sliding single- or double-hung window
- A casement window that opens outward
Luckily, it’s relatively inexpensive to get locks for any of these window types.
Check that the lock you want is compatible with the windows you have before buying.
We like window security bars (especially temporary ones that you can remove) as much as the next home security site. But we’ve noticed these bars currently trend more towards keeping children inside rather than keeping people out. We aren’t convinced that kid-oriented window bars are strong enough for security use. So for now, we’ve moved away from making specific recommendations.
4. Install security cameras
Keep eyes on your basement windows through security cameras. Cameras can catch suspicious activity. Plus, their presence can also stop your house from being cased in the first place.
Data effective 01/30/2023 Offers subject to change.
We suggest using outdoor cameras that criminals can clearly see. However, you can also try putting indoor cameras inside the basement rooms. The indoor cameras might not be as effective at preventing break-ins as outdoor ones, but they’ll still catch criminals red-handed.
We’ve also rounded up the best window cameras if you want to check them out.
5. Beef up your security system
If you already have a home security system, make sure you’re using it to its fullest capabilities. If you don’t have a home security system, consider investing in one, even if you only use it in the basement.
The quickest home security system fix for basement windows is to add door/window sensors, also known as entry sensors.
A window sensor consists of two pieces hooked together by a magnet. When the window opens, the magnet separates, and the sensor sends an alert to inform you of the potential breach. If your home security system is armed at the time, the sensor will also trip the alarm.
Data effective 01/30/2023. Offers subject to change.
As an alternative to window sensors, you can try glass break sensors (which are sensitive to the sound of breaking glass). You can also keep a motion detector near the window—although if you frequently use the room with the window, you’ll have to disarm the detector every time you’re in there.
6. Secure your window wells
If you have window wells, consider covering them with grates or plastic covers. Covers not only prevent burglaries but also keep animals and kids from falling into the wells.
Some window well covers are opaque, but we suggest using translucent covers or security grates. Shutting the natural light out can make a basement seem tomblike and less safe. Sure, it’s an irrational feeling, but it happens, and we don’t want your basement to feel scarier.
Amazon.com List prices as of 01/30/2023 1:15 MST.
*Currently not sold by the manufacturer on Amazon.
7. Don’t tempt fate
Make that window as unappetizing to burglars as possible. One quick way to do that is by arranging the furniture and other items inside the basement.
Block the window with a tall bookshelf so it’s not a tempting entry point. Or, if you prefer to leave it unblocked, clear the surrounding area to make an uncomfortable drop to the floor. Keeping your old card table or '70s-style sofa directly under the window is like an invitation to use them as stepping stools.
Basement window FAQ
The International Residential Code (IRC) requires an emergency escape and/or rescue opening in every basement and sleeping room. There has to be a way for (a) people to safely leave the room and (b) first responders to enter during a fire or other emergency.²
Dimension requirements determine these opening sizes, so they have to be pretty big. Sometimes they’re doors, but they can also be windows. They’re often called “egress windows.”
Because the purpose of an egress window is to escape, we don’t recommend using locks or window well covers. Those devices keep intruders out, but they also make it much harder to exit during an emergency! Similarly, keep your egress windows clear of furniture and other debris so you can quickly get out.
We recommend going with security lights, cameras, window film, or entry sensors on egresses.
Glass block basement windows are both harder to break and harder to open than your average window. To monitor these windows, we’d try cameras or even glass break sensors. (Most home security companies offer these sensors.)
Some people are pro security plants; some are anti. Proponents argue that planting a big thorny plant in front of your windows makes it impossible for intruders to get in.
We’re yes plants as long as they're flush against the wall of your home. If there's a space between the plant and the window, you haven’t created a barrier. You've created a place for an intruder to wiggle in unobserved.
In short, if you have basement windows with window wells, a plant won’t be a hindrance and might even be a helper. But if you have above-ground basement windows, shrubbery is worth a shot.
We talk a little more about plants in our tips for a safer home.