Causes of False Alarms

Mar 26, 2019

Prevent the frustration and fees of false alarms caused by your home security system. The list below contains several of the most common causes of false security alarms, so arm yourself with this knowledge so you can help prevent them.

False security alarms take up the valuable time and resources of our local law enforcement officials, and many cities and towns now charge homeowners false alarm fees to reinforce how important it is to prevent false alarms.

What causes false alarms?

what causes false alarms

Motion Detectors

Motion detectors are a common feature on home security systems. Incorporating the sensors into lights allows them to illuminate your backyard if they detect motion or into cameras that start recording when they sense movement in a given area. The sensors can also trip an alarm that emits a loud warning siren or alerts local authorities to an issue.

Motion detectors work in a variety of ways: some detect changes in the heat of an area, some detect changes in sound waves, and some emit radar waves or infrared energy to sense changes in a given spot.
motion detector false alarm causes
Unfortunately, there also are numerous ways that motion detectors can be “tricked” into action.
  • The movement of blinds or curtains
  • Pets
  • Wildlife or insects
  • Heating vents
  • Hot sun shining directly on them
  • Ceiling fan
  • Strong winds, lightning or thunder
  • A dog barking too close
  • Fireworks
  • Air pressure changes
The best way to prevent these types of false alarms is to install motion detectors correctly from the get-go. Moreover, we’ll get into issues that arise from improper installation in just a moment, but other ways you can prevent false alarms on your motion detectors is to clean the equipment regularly to prevent the build-up of dead bugs, spider webs, and other dirt and debris. Spraying an insect repellant around cameras and sensors can also help keep away the creepy crawlers.

Incorrect Installation

Motion detector technology works through various mechanisms and falls into one of two buckets: active sensors or passive sensors. You can read more about the differences between these sensors in our blog, can motion sensors be triggered by light. The best motion detectors utilize dual-tech technology (both passive and active sensors) to help cut down on false alarms.

What is essential during set-up is that components are correctly aligned and installed according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Install outdoor components in an area where wind and rain can’t impact them.
  • Placing packets of silica gel inside outdoor cameras and alarms can help keep component dry.
  • Invest in a security system with a good ingress protection (IP) rating. This is a code published by the International Electrotechnical Commission that classifies and rates the degree of protection provided against the intrusion of dust, accidental contact, and water.
  • Adjust camera sensitivities correctly.
  • Place equipment in places where household pets can’t easily disturb it.
how to prevent false alarms

Low Batteries

If the power source for your security system fails, it can cause a false alarm. With the abundance of wireless equipment on the market today, low batteries are a common source of problems. Read the manufacturer’s recommendations carefully for how long the batteries in your equipment should last and then schedule regular battery replacements according to this schedule. Keep spare batteries on-hand for your security system.

Unlocked or Loose Doors and Windows

Another common cause of false alarms is unlocked or loose doors and windows. Window and door security usually consist of a two-piece sensor with magnetic contacts, one installed on the frame and one on the window or door. If the connection between the two contacts breaks, the alarm sounds.

Wind can blow a partially closed door or window wide open. Pets have been known to open doors, especially those not shut all the way. Changes in the weather cause doors and windows to swell in the summer and contract in the winter.

Make it a habit to close and lock all windows and doors to help prevent false security alarms. 
how to reduce user errors

User Error

To err is human and that’s especially true when it comes to home security systems. User error is the number one most common reason for false security alarms. The kids forgot the passcode. You forgot to tell your neighbor feeding the cat that the alarm is armed. A housecleaner or contractor enters your house and isn’t familiar with how to work your alarm system, even though you gave him or her the code. Mistakes happen, but luckily there are lots of simple steps you can take to prevent these types of false alarms:
  • Train anyone entering your house on how to use the alarm system properly.
  • Require dual verification before authorities are dispatched to your home in the event the alarm goes off. This means that the monitoring company calls you before calling the authorities.
  • Make sure your monitoring company has your current contact information
  • Use technology, such as smartphone text messages that alert you when your alarm goes off so you can disarm it faster.
Keep the user manual for the alarm system in an easily accessible place and make sure your family knows where it is as well.
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