Common Causes of False Alarms and How to Avoid Them

Whilst intruder alarm systems are more advanced than ever, they are still not 100% fool proof – false alarms still happen and, when they do, they can be frustrating.

How to prevent false alarms

Whilst intruder alarm systems are more advanced than ever, they are still not 100% fool proof – false alarms still happen and, when they do, they can be frustrating. If they happen enough, they may eventually begin to be ignored, which could mean that a genuine intruder alert goes unnoticed.

Join us as we explore the reasons behind false alarms, and offer top tips on avoiding them.

False alarms can be frustrating for the keyholders who are summoned from their beds in the middle of the night, not to mention annoying for neighbours. They can also cause a drop in confidence as to the integrity of the system, and the alarm may eventually be ignored.

Whilst modern intruder alarm systems incorporate the latest processor technology that’s been specifically designed to reduce false alarm system activation, there may still be triggers that cause them to go off without good reason.

Here are some of the most common causes of false alarms in security systems:

Overall product failure / DIY installation

Lower quality intruder alarm systems are likely to have a shorter lifespan. Should they fail, they can cause a false alarm.

With professionally installed alarm systems, product failure is rare. The installer will have recommended a standards-approved alarm, such as a BS EN50131 NSI certified model, which will offer greater reliability and longevity.

A professional installation (again, by for example an NSI accredited security company), will also ensure that all the detectors and sensors are correctly aligned and equipment is installed in line not only with the manufacturer’s recommendations but also the British Standards and NSI codes of practice. DIY security systems are often installed incorrectly, making them more prone to false alarms.

Cable damage

Decorating and refurbishment tasks can damage cabling that supports wired alarm systems. Even something as simple as putting something up on the wall could interfere with cables.

Such damage can lead to false alarms, so it is vital to take care with cabling during such works.

Lack of servicing and maintenance

As well as regularly changing the batteries in your alarm system to prevent them leaking or sweating and causing a power failure which can lead to a false alarm, it is essential that the system is regularly serviced by an accredited professional.

An alarm system maintenance and servicing contract will check that all aspects of the system are in full working order, as well as replacing batteries and checking any cables.

Ideally, it is recommended that an intruder alarm system is serviced every year. However, if the alarm is monitored, you should increase this to twice a year. 

Seasonally induced false alarms

Extremes of weather can cause false alarms for various reasons.

Passive infrared (PIR) sensors work by detecting a change in ambient temperature and are designed to detect a moving heat source the size of a human.

Whilst modern PIR sensors will usually remain stable as the temperature in a space rises due to climatic changes, older systems, or very sudden changes in temperature, may trigger a false alarm.

Leaving windows open on warm days can lead to draughts triggering the movement sensors when the alarm is set. So if you’re going out, be sure to close all the windows.

Finally, strong winds and freezing temperatures can cause power cuts, so it’s vital to ensure your alarm’s backup battery is in good working order. A faulty or non-charged battery will often lead to an alarm being activated during a power cut. 

Pets in the home

If you have pets, you’re going to risk your alarm sensors picking up their movement when you’re out, potentially leading to a false alarm. That is, unless you choose an alarm that is specifically designed for pet owners.

Certain sensors can be set to ignore animals smaller than a certain size, usually 25Kg, which can cover anything up to a fairly large dog. Pet friendly sensors recognise pet shapes distinctly from people. The sensitivity can also be adjusted if necessary.

Ageing systems

Whether it’s outdated technology or constant exposure to harsh weather conditions, the older an alarm system, the more likely it will be to go off unnecessarily, especially if it has not been regularly serviced.

Over time, components can start to wear out and connections can become unreliable. Modern systems tend to have greater longevity thanks to newer technologies and engineering methods. Circuit boards in older units can be affected by damp and siren boxes can become weathered, but newer models are designed to overcome such issues.

So, if your ageing alarm is being triggered when it shouldn’t be, and you’ve ruled everything else out, it may simply be time for an upgrade.

How to prevent false alarms?

As well as ensuring your alarm system is carefully chosen to suit your individual needs and property, and in addition to using a professionally accredited alarm installer and investing in regular servicing and maintenance, another way in which you can avoid false alarms is to opt for a monitored alarm with dual verification.

With a dual verification monitored alarm, the alarm receiving centre will require an audio or visual verification from the premises via an audio enabled detector or an integrated CCTV system before alerting the keyholders and / or authorities on the triggering of an alarm. If there is no verification that the alarm is genuine, it will be classed as false and turned off remotely.

Looking for a professionally installed alarm system that suits your individual needs?

If you’re looking to make sure your intruder alarm suits your individual needs and is installed correctly and to the highest standards in order to reduce the chances of false alarms, you are wise to consult an accredited security professional, such as one with National Security Inspectorate Gold status.

They will help you choose a system that is suitable for your property, and ensure it is installed, maintained and serviced professionally for long term peace of mind, and least likelihood of false alarms.

At Barry Bros Security, we have been taking care of home and business owner security needs for over 75 years. Our NSI Gold approved intruder alarm installation experts are ready to provide you with the bespoke advice you need to secure your property, so please do get in touch.

How Can We Help?

Regardless of the type of premises you are looking to protect, Barry Bros Security has the solution. Contact us today for expert advice and the benefit of decades of experience in the security industry.