So you've invested in a home security system. That's terrific, but are you sure that your system is working correctly?
If you have never tested your system, or if it has been a while, it's time to test your system out to be sure that it's working properly. After all, you want to be sure you're getting your money's worth for the cost of the system and monthly monitoring fees.
Here are 5 tips for determining whether your home security system is in good working order. Before testing your system, ensure that all doors and windows have been locked and secured.
1. Read Your Owner's Manual
It's not the most exciting read, but the owner's manual that came with your home security system is the key to knowing how to test it properly. There will probably be a section in your manual on exactly how to test your system properly without triggering a false alarm (which can cost you in some cities). If you have questions, call up your home security provider and get answers before proceeding.
2. Choose a "Courteous" Time to Test
Obviously, when you test your home security system, there will be loud noises, and you want to keep disturbances to your neighbors to a minimum. Choose a time of day when neighbors are away or unlikely to be asleep. If you have children or pets who might be particularly sensitive to loud noises, try to arrange for a sitter, or have your spouse take the dogs to the park while you test the system.
3. Let Your Security System Provider Know You Will Be Testing Your System
Call your home security system provider and let them know you want to test your system. Usually, these providers have a specific set of steps to follow for handling system tests. Furthermore, your provider may have special instructions for you to follow while you're testing the system. The security company will usually flag your account as being tested for a pre-determined amount of time, and this will help prevent false alarms and the fines that sometimes go with them.
4. Test every sensor in the system.
This requires that you know the location of all sensors beforehand. Go through each one methodically, walking in front of each motion detector to set it off. When triggered, each sensor should have a strong signal, and the alarm should sound for the individual area covered by the sensor. Also test each individual door and window during this phase of the test and check that signals are strong.
5. Let alarms sound for more than 30 to 45 seconds for each sensor.
With most alarm systems, there are built-in delays of 30 to 45 seconds before sensors send signals to the monitoring center. This is to allow system owners time to silence alarms when they accidentally trigger the system. Let alarms sound long enough that you can be certain they are reaching the monitoring center.
After you finish testing your home security system, phone the company and let them know that you are through testing and that any subsequent signals from your home are "real." Your security system provider will confirm that they received the test signals and will un-flag your account from test status so that your system is ready to operate normally once again.
Ideally, you should test your home security system monthly to make sure it's working as intended. Don't hinder your home's security by letting your system go untested. You'll have much greater peace of mind once you know that your home security system is in proper working order.
Check out our How To Videos
on working your home security system.