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How to Maintain a Home Alarm System?

A security system needs regular maintenance to make sure it functions optimally. This involves inspecting the individual components, changing the batteries when needed and ensuring that all the separate parts communicate effectively. While your central control pad and a monitoring service help you keep track of system performance, you should conduct your own weekly and monthly inspections as well.

If you never have to use your alarm system — and we hope you don’t — how do you know it works? With all the downtime that home alarm systems (hopefully) enjoy, it’s essential to perform regular maintenance and repairs to ensure that your system will work in case of an emergency.

It’s suggested that you get a home security alarm service at least once a year. A trained technician will perform a thorough inspection of your system and repair any potential issues. Here are some critical areas that professionals will inspect during a home alarm system service.

When you think about regular maintenance, you probably think about getting your car’s oil changed, but your home security system needs some love too. Faulty equipment can make your home vulnerable to break-ins, porch pirates, and more.

Device maintenance varies by brand, but we've got some general tips that should help across the board. Add these simple maintenance steps to your calendar to keep your security system in tip-top shape.

Security System Maintenance. Why Is it So Important?

In any installation that we need to protect, we can never forget the importance of carrying out security system maintenance. In this post, we will explain what the supervision of a security system is. We will talk about what each of the different types of existing maintenance is: corrective care and preventive maintenance – and the differences between them.

The maintenance of the security system involves periodic checks of all the elements that make up the installation (cameras, detectors, computers, circuits, lighting systems, etc.) to verify that they work well. This would be preventive maintenance. Next, systems that are not functioning correctly would be corrected or repaired (corrective maintenance).

Maintenance Plan

Any place with a security system connected to an alarm receiver or its control centre must have a written document that establishes the review deadlines and the scope of periodic reviews. This preventive maintenance plan must be known by the organisation, especially those responsible for security. And it must allow us to know at all times what elements were reviewed in each inspection and the results, as well as the corrective measures that were adopted.

The list of items to be checked in preventive maintenance is detailed in Order on the operation of alarm systems in the field of private security, adding a lot of observations with the results obtained, as well as the date and signature of those responsible for the maintenance plan.

If we prevent possible failures of the security system, we anticipate unwanted situations that may have a dramatic reach. For example, if one of the cameras or detectors of the security perimeter does not work, we have a significant gap that can be used by intruders to enter our facilities without our knowledge.

Maintenance Of Computer Systems

In any productive system we have in our company, computer equipment plays an important role. The equipment is controlled by computers and software. This also happens in security systems. We have to know at all times that the computer equipment works correctly. And we must make the necessary backups following a strict program to prevent possible loss of information such as video recordings with a maximum expiration of 30 days, detected alert logs, security system failures, etc.

You must also have a good antivirus and antimalware system. The malfunction of computer equipment because they introduce us to a virus or malware can be a security breach of our system. The attack on our facilities can start physically, but also by a computer intrusion.

A computer attack can cause parts of the security system to stop working, but it can also erase or steal vital information.

How Do You Maintain a Security System?

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  • What to check weekly
  • What to check monthly
  • What to check once every six months
  • What to check annually

What To Check Weekly

We know your time is limited, so thankfully, there isn’t a lot that you need to do weekly to keep your security system up and to run.

Check Batteries

Once a week, you should check in on any security equipment that eats up a lot of energy. While brands say that smart locks and wireless cameras can go weeks without a fresh set of batteries or a recharge, we’ve found that this can vary widely depending on a bunch of different factors. It’s best to look at the app to see how your devices are doing each week.

Clean Devices

There are a few home security devices that you need to clean to work correctly. First, make sure to dust the control panel weekly to prevent dust bunnies and cobwebs from interfering with delicate inner workings.

Next, wipe down the lenses of security cameras around the house with a microfiber cloth with a glass cleaner. After all, smudgy footage is useless footage.

Finally, time for some digital cleanup. If your security system has local storage, be sure to clear out any videos you don’t need to make room for new footage.

Check it off your list:

  • Check the charge on your wireless cameras.
  • Check the battery life on your wireless smart locks.
  • Dust control panel.
  • Remove smudges and dust from camera lenses.
  • Clear space in local storage.

What To Check Monthly

Your monthly tasks are all about updates and check-ups to make sure everything is running smoothly.

Update The App

Make sure that your home security app is updated to prevent glitches when you’re using it and to prevent vulnerabilities that create loopholes for hackers.

How to update apps using the Apple Store:

  • Open the App Store on your phone.
  • Tap your profile icon.
  • Find the app in the list.
  • Tap the Update button next to the app name.

How to update apps using Google Play:

  • Open the Google Play Store app.
  • Tap your profile icon.
  • Choose My apps & games option.
  • Find the app in the list.
  • Tap the Update button next to the app name.

Run A Self-diagnostic On The Control Panel

Next, run the test mode on the control panel. This will put the control panel into self-diagnosis mode and work out any bugs.

Make sure you call your security system‘s customer service line to walk you through this step the first time. Otherwise, it might trigger an alarm and an unnecessary visit from emergency services.

While you’re on the line, ask the representative how often you should run the self-diagnostic. Some, like ADT, say you should do it “periodically.” We think once a month is a good idea, mainly if the control panel gives you problems, but follow the company’s advice if it offers a recommendation.

Check The Status Of Your Medical Alert Devices.

Don’t forget your medical alert devices when you’re running maintenance checks. Many of these devices have test buttons that allow you to make a test call to ensure that it’s still functioning properly. You can also call your security company to run a status check on your devices.

Check Your Fire Detectors.

Go around your house and test all of your fire alarms to make sure they are working. Some smart detectors can be tested using the app.

Check it off your list:

  • Update app.
  • Run the test mode on the control panel to work out bugs.
  • Check the status of medical alert devices.
  • Make sure your fire detectors are working.

What To Check Every Six Months

Our six-month maintenance list focuses on items you probably don’t think about much after setting up your security system.

Inspect Sensors

Typically, people stick their sensors up and never give them another thought . . . unless they start malfunctioning. A little care can keep them from giving you any trouble down the road.

First, walk around and ensure that all of your sensors are still firmly attached to windows, walls, and door jams. Rambunctious kiddos, kitties, and Fidos can peel stickable sensors off the wall. Humidity can also make sensors go asunder.

Next, try to set off each motion, window, and door sensor to ensure it is still sending notifications. We suggest doing a little dance in front of the motion sensors to set them off, but a silly walk is just as entertaining and compelling.

If the motion sensor doesn’t seem to be working, it may need a change of batteries or reconnection to your system. If those fixes don’t work, contact your security system company for help. You may be able to get a replacement for free if the device is still under warranty.

Perimeter Check

A lot can happen in your yard as the season's change, so checking your outdoor security devices every six months is a good idea.

First, go into the camera’s app and tweak the activity zone and privacy zone settings. Make adjustments to where each camera can “see” and detect motion. Did a tree in the front yard grow a lot over the past six months, and now a branch keeps setting off your notifications? Make adjustments to stop the aggravation.

Check security lights and porch lights too. Make sure there are no dead bulbs and that all of the motion sensors are still working.

Check batteries

Now is an excellent time to check the batteries in security devices that don’t use much juice. Check the batteries in your wireless sensors, remotes, and smoke/CO detectors.

Check it off your list:

  • Inspect sensors.
  • Do a perimeter check.
  • Check security lights and porch lights.
  • Check batteries in wireless sensors.
  • Check batteries in remotes.
  • Check batteries in smoke/CO detectors.

What To Check Annually

Yearly, there are a few maintenance tasks that are a little more complicated but well worth it.

Vulnerability Audit

Take a walk around your home and your property and take inventory. Is your security system missing anything that you need to purchase?

See if any places may need the following:

  • Security camera
  • Motion sensor
  • Flood sensor
  • Temperature sensor
  • Fire/CO detector
  • Extra lighting

Also, take a look around your home for simple changes that can make a big difference:

  • Trim bushes that may provide a cover for would-be crooks.
  • Tighten loose screws in security chains and door hinges and knobs.
  • Trim trees that block security cameras.
  • Replace outdoor bulbs with smart bulbs that turn on automatically when they sense movement.

Warranty/Contract Check-up

Once a year, make sure to check your security system’s warranty or contract. You may be eligible for new or upgraded equipment. Also, if your warranty is coming to an end, check all of your equipment to ensure that everything is functioning correctly, so you don’t miss out on free repairs or replacement security devices.

Check it off your list:

  • Vulnerability audit
  • Warranty/contract checkup

Tips for Security System Maintenance

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Check For System Status Updates Regularly

In our series of posts on diagnosing alarm trouble signals, we discussed the importance of finding the system’s “status” button. The title of this button differs based on what type of security system you have. Regardless of the name, the purpose remains essentially the same across all kinds of alarm systems. Pressing this button provides you with an up-to-the-second report on your security system’s well-being. Some status updates will create an audible notification to alert you to trouble with your alarm. However, not all system updates create this alert.

Most alarms do provide some visual clue to let you know to check the system status. This may consist of a blinking asterisk, a light, a “message” icon, or a text alert on the keypad’s screen. Unfortunately, many of our customers have missed this visual aid and failed to fix a problem with their alarm. Checking your system’s status regularly can help you catch and resolve these issues as they arise. Learn how your specific security system alerts you to a status change, and check your alarm regularly. If you’ve had one of our alarm systems recently installed, you likely have either a Concord, Networx, or QOLSYS alarm panel. You can read up on diagnosing trouble conditions on each board by clicking on the links provided. Let’s look at another straightforward yet vital way to help ensure proper security system maintenance.

Keep Sensors Clear Of Dust And Debris

Keeping your alarm sensors clean goes a long way towards ensuring proper system operation. We pointed out in our post about Security System Monitoring how many customers fear false alarms. Not all of these customers realise that keeping sensors clean — especially motion detectors — dramatically lowers the chance of a false alarm. Most motion sensors detect motion by sensing changes in the amount of heat in a room. Dirt, dust, or grime getting inside the detector can provide a change in heat and create a false alarm. Spiders or insects crawling inside detectors can also make this same response.

Check your system contacts for accumulated dirt and dust regularly, and clean the areas around them if needed. Sensors installed in basements get especially dirty very quickly, so give that extra attention. Maintaining your security devices will help prevent false alarms and help keep your sensors in good working order for as long as possible. Now, let’s look at a tip to ensure your sensors will create the proper alarm response when needed.

Perform Regular Communication And Sensor Testing

When we refer to a security system “test,” we have a couple of different goals in mind. A large part of security system maintenance involves ensuring communication between your alarm and our central station. You want to feel confident that if your alarm senses trouble, help will be a phone call away. If your notice doesn’t send a signal upon activation, nobody will know to make this phone call. The second type of system test you should perform involves testing your sensors. 

For example, a wireless door sensor may lose radio contact with your alarm panel. If this happens, a burglar coming through that specific door will not create an alarm. Maintaining both central station and inter-system connectivity is crucial.

To perform a system test, call either your central station or the company that installed your alarm. Explain that you wish to put the notice on “test” mode. This allows signals to go through to the central station without their operators dispatching the police. Activate your alarm by either pushing a panic button or arming your system and opening a door with a contact on it. After the siren has sounded for at least 30 seconds, call the same number you called to put the system on test and ask if any signals went through.

To test multiple sensors, open every armed door and walk in front of every motion detector while trying your alarm. When you call to verify the test, either your central station or alarm company can tell you which contacts created an alarm. In this manner, you can verify both paramount station communication and sensor operation at the same time. Let’s look at a different type of system test that you should consider during security system maintenance.

Schedule Annual Fire System Inspections

In addition to self-testing, some security devices deserve — and even require — professional testing. Until very recently, only commercial fire alarm systems required an annual inspection from a security company. However, as we pointed out in our Residential Fire Alarm Code Change post, the Massachusetts state fire code now requires yearly inspections for smoke detection systems connected to an alarm in homes as well. If this applies to you, make sure to keep up with these inspections. Doing so can help you from a safety perspective and also has additional benefits.

First and foremost, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors save lives, and you should always ensure these devices’ proper operation. Additionally, your insurance company may hold missed tests against you in the case of a fire. Since the law now requires these tests, keeping up with them will also help keep you in good graces with your homeowners’ insurance provider. Let’s look at one more tip that can help keep your alarm in good working order with minimal cost and effort.

Consider A Service Plan To Keep Your Alarm Maintained

Purchasing an extended warranty and service plan can help you keep your alarm’s testing and maintenance up to date very efficiently. For one, it removes the cost of changing equipment that needs replacing. You may run across a broken system component now and then during your security system maintenance checks. If you have one of our service plans, we’ll replace that part for free. This includes both the cost of the region itself and the labour involved in travelling to your house to make the replacement.

Our most inclusive service agreement also includes an annual system check-up. That means that every year, a licensed technician will run through all of the procedures and tips described in this post. If anything needs addressing, we can fix it for free while on site. Too many of our customers, this service plan represents the simplest and most cost-effective way to manage security system maintenance.

Creating A Plan To Keep Up With Security System Maintenance

We hope that this post has given you some good ideas for security system care and maintenance. Since home security remains a priority at all times, we highly recommend following these steps frequently. Unfortunately, many security products are neglected until they are needed the most. Keeping your system in good working order can ensure that you catch any issues in time to fix them before and not after your system fails during an actual emergency. 

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