10 Ways to Reduce False Alarms with your Home Security System


Nobody wants to be the neighbor with the alarm system that goes off all the time for no reason. Not only do false alarms disturb everyone around you, they also won't endear you to your local law enforcement officers. Knowing the most frequent causes of false alarms and how to help prevent them is important for everyone who has a home security system.

The most common causes of false home security alarms are:

•    Unlocked or loose doors and windows
•    People lawfully entering the home without knowing you have a security system
•    Large or energetic pets
•    Malfunctioning equipment
•    User error
•    Helium balloons, moving holiday decorations or drapes blown by a breeze

Here are 10 ways to help cut down on false alarms.

1. Make sure all family members know how to use the system.
Everyone who lives in your home should know how to use the system, what code to use when coming home after the system is armed at night and where motion detectors are located.

2. Ask about setting up special keypad codes for domestic help.
Ask your security system provider about creating unique keypad codes for regular domestic employees. If domestic workers are unaware of your system, they're more likely to set it off unwittingly.

3. Test your system regularly.
Ideally, you should test the components of your home security system every month. Make sure sensors are clean and positioned properly, and that your backup battery has enough power.

4. Lock all doors and windows before activating the system.
This seems obvious, but the one time you forget to lock the back door before arming the system is probably going to be the time your college student arrives home late and trips the alarm by opening the door.

5. Ensure detectors are pet friendly and placed properly.
When you have a home security system professionally installed, make sure the experts know if you have pets so that they can position and calibrate motion detectors properly. Generally, the larger the pet, the more likely he or she is to trigger your system by wandering around. Also avoid placing sensors in the path of air blown from heating and AC ducts.

6. Upgrade your system.
If your home security system is old, consider upgrading. Today's systems are far more technologically sophisticated, better protect your home and have more safeguards that help prevent false alarms.

7. Clean motion detectors.
Keep your motion detectors clean. When they get dusty or are placed in an area where there is more dust than usual (such as near a clothes dryer), they're more prone to going off unexpectedly.

8. Read your owner's manual.
Understanding your home security system is probably the best thing you can do to help prevent false alarms. Your owner's manual should give thorough directions for operating your system properly, ensuring you aren’t doing things that make your system more prone to false alarms.

9. Check door and window contacts for a secure fit.
Door and window contacts can get jiggled loose with regular opening and closing, making false alarms more likely. When you test your system, check your door and window contacts to make sure they're all securely in place.

10. Change backup battery regularly.
Check your backup battery regularly, and if it is low, have it replaced. Your home security system provider should instruct you on how to check your battery and how long you can expect it to last.

With awareness and sound habits, you can do a lot to help prevent false alarms, as well as to help keep your family and home just a little safer.