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Home Security Systems | How to Avoid False Alarms


False alarms can be a problem for owners of monitored home alarm systems, and they can be frustrating to both homeowners and local law enforcement. Some cities and towns even issue fines when officers are dispatched to homes due to false alarms.

Unfortunately, when homeowners aren't educated about the causes of false alarms and ways to prevent them, they may stop arming their systems altogether, losing the security benefits they sought in the first place. Learn the causes of false alarms and how to address them, and you can help ensure that responding to false alarms doesn’t waste police resources. Here are the five most common causes of false alarms and what to do about them.

1. Improper Arming of the System

Improper arming of a home security system followed by entry or exit is the most common cause of false alarms. This may be a simple mistake—like keying in the wrong pass code or forgetfully opening a window after the system is armed. The key to preventing this type of false alarm is ensuring that every household member who is allowed to operate the system knows how to use it. Try to have all users present when the system is installed and the installation technician demonstrates use of the system. If you aren't sure of a specific procedure, look it up in your user's manual or call your home alarm company and ask.

2. Lack of Training for Non-Residents Who Access the Home

Another common cause for false alarms is in-home service workers who don't understand how to access the home without setting off the alarm, or who may work in multiple households and type in the wrong access code. When you hire someone to do work in your home, go through each step needed to gain access. Don't just tell them the access code. You might even have them try it out to make sure they know exactly what to do.

3. Weather

Windy or stormy weather can cause false alarms. If the system is armed, but a door is not securely shut, high winds could blow it open, triggering the alarm system. If you have windows that are easily shaken by wind, and those windows have sensors on them, windy weather could cause false alarms when the windows are shaken. The best way to prevent this type of false alarm is to replace or repair loose windows, and ensure that all door knobs operate as intended so that when doors are closed, they latch securely.

4. Pets

Newer home alarm systems are less prone to pet-related false alarms than older systems. Sometimes the alarm is triggered by either a large pet, or a pet jostling the curtains or blinds. The best way to prevent false alarms caused by pets is to ensure that all sensors are placed high enough that they're not disturbed by ordinary household pet movement. It's important to make certain that stationary objects like bookcases, large vases and house plants do not interfere with sensor operation. If you're buying a new system or upgrading an older one, ask how well the system's motion detectors are able to cope with household pets.

5. Equipment Failures and Low Batteries

The batteries in home security systems have to be changed periodically. Most systems sound audible chirps or other sounds when the batteries are starting to run down. Some systems may emit false alarms when batteries get too low. When it's time to change batteries, look in your user's manual or call your alarm company's customer support line to learn exactly what type of batteries are required. If your alarm system has more than one false alarm caused by something obvious, it's important that you take the time to address the cause of the false alarms. Otherwise, you could end up paying fines...or worse, you could be forced to deactivate the system and lose all of the valuable benefits of having a monitored home security system.

Most false alarms are fairly easy to troubleshoot, and the causes of false alarms are generally easy to correct. Ensure all sensors are placed optimally and that all family members and regular household workers understand how to use the system, and you'll minimize or even eliminate false alarms so you can enjoy the many benefits of monitored home security.