International Building Code (IBC), 2009 Edition Code Requirements for mag locks on doors:

Motion Sensor above door
Mechanical pushbutton with 30 second timer located adjacent to opening to unlock (back-up to motion sensor should it fail)
Tie-in to Fire Alarm to remove power to magnetic lock during a fire alarm condition.

Problems with Magnetic locks:

When (Not if) the mag lock system fails, the door is left unlocked with no way to secure the door until a new magnetic lock and/or power supply is installed.  This may take days depending on availability of parts & service tech, etc.

When (Not if) the card reader fails on the exterior of the door opening – there is not a convenient way to access the building through this opening (on single door openings) as the magnetic lock cannot be disabled from the exterior (Unless defeated – see below).

Exception to this:  If a mechanical key switch is added to the exterior to disable maglocks                                                                          Problem with key switch:  Remove two screws, cut wire and you are in the building.

On double door openings with a magnetic lock with no center mullion – the door is easily unlocked by the use of a slender object placed through the gap between the doors and used to trip the motion sensor thereby unlocking the door.

Likewise on both the double door and the single door openings it is also possible to utilize the gap under the door to trip the motion sensor to gain access.

Motion Sensor issues:

With a motion sensor anytime motion is detected on the interior of the building the door is unlocked.  This included pedestrian traffic on the interior of the building.  This creates a security issue when a person is standing at the door and a person on the interior of the building walks within range of the motion sensor, the door will unlock and allow entry to potentially un-authorized people.

A poorly adjusted motion sensor will allow motion to be detected through the glass adjacent to openings causing the door to unlock.

Fire Alarm Issues:  Building is unsecure during all fire alarm conditions (Real or False alarms)

Door Issues:

With magnetic locks the door is only secured at the top of the opening.  When a door is pulled the bottom of the door is flexed and over time will cause issues with the warping of the door and the weakening of the frame.  The potential gap that could be created by this flexing of the door may allow potential intruders to use a pry bar to gain a mechanical advantage and actually facilitate entry to the facility.

Solution to Magnetic Locks – Do not use for secured entrances or exterior doors!


Mechanical Latching Hardware for Security

Electrical Mechanical latching door hardware is the preferred, most secure and economical in the form of securing an entry door with a card reader in the long term.

Mechanical (Fail Secure) hardware

  • Does not require power to remain locked.
  • Will typically fail in the locked position.
  • Utilizes a standard mechanical key to gain entry during system failure.
  • Contain mechanical switches to coordinate ADA operators and request to exit.
  • Mechanical hardware will secure the door at keys points to prevent access and damage to the door and frame.
  • Does not require a fire alarm system tie-in.
  • Opening remains secure during fire alarm condition (Both real and false alarms).