Security System Maintenance

Your security system is only as effective as its weakest component.

Your security system is always a work in progress.
Monty Rakusen/Creative RF/Getty Images.

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 individual parts communicate effectively with one another. While your main control pad and a monitoring service help you keep track of system performance, you should conduct your own weekly and monthly inspections as well.

Perform Weekly Perimeter Checks

Walk around your home every week to inspect the locks on all the doors and windows. Also inspect the frame around each door and window to ensure there is no rotting, warping or any other condition that makes the entry easier to breach. Check the sensors on each door and window too. Adhesive usually holds them in place, so the sensors need re-fastening occasionally. Wireless sensors are battery-powered, and the batteries require testing and the occasional changing as well.

Test the Control Panel

The control panel is the brain of your entire security system. Every sensor’s signal passes through it, and it interprets those signals to know when to activate. The panel has a “test” mode which runs a self-diagnostic to ensure everything works properly. If you use a monitoring service, notify them before running the test mode unless your specific system doesn’t require it.

This prevents the monitoring service from sending police if an alarm activates while on a test. Visually inspect the panel as well to look for loose wires or any signs of damage. Notify your alarm company immediately if the panel starts malfunctioning or shows signs of wear.

Examine Your Lights

Check all of your exterior lighting monthly to ensure all the lights work properly and have functioning light bulbs.

The wind sometimes causes security lighting to shift slightly, so the lights are not aimed properly. Readjust the lights as needed to maximize their effectiveness.

Inspect All Cameras

If you have cameras included in your system, examine them daily to make sure they have power, are aimed properly and have not been vandalized. Check your monitoring and recording devices as well to verify each camera is getting an image and is recording appropriately.

Request Annual Inspections

Your own checks help prevent major malfunctions in your security system, but an annual inspection from a qualified technician helps ensure everything stays running optimally for years to come. An inspector performs a more thorough check on all the components, wiring, power supplies and sensors in the system and replaces or repairs anything that is not performing at 100%. Most companies offer annual inspections at relatively low cost, and many include it as a part of the initial installation agreement. This helps prevent more expensive repairs down the road and also reduces the risk of the system failing when you need it most.

The inspector also updates any software that needs it. This sometimes happens remotely through the main control panel without any input from you.

However, inquire about the software while the inspector is there to make sure you have the most updated firmware. This eliminates bugs and reduces the risk of malfunction.

Perform Additional Safety Checks

Keep a fire extinguisher on every level of the home, with one of them in the kitchen. Inspect the gauge on these extinguishers monthly, and get them serviced if they look low. Review safety procedures with any children in the house every month as well. Go over important rules such as never letting strangers into the house, never giving strangers information over the phone and what the escape plan is in the event of a fire.

Security systems help automate the process of keeping your home safe, but it does not do all the work for you. Your own diligence is essential in keeping the system working and ensuring it is used properly.

Communicate with your security company anytime there is any concern about the system or the proper use of it. Asking questions now saves you valuable time later if an actual emergency occurs.