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Common intruder alarm faults and how to keep your premises safe

In this article we list the most common causes of intruder alarm faults and false activations and how the following can help keep your premises safe:

  1. Expert installation
  2. Regular maintenance
  3. Why false intruder alarm activations occur
  4. How to avoid false intruder alarm activations

Intruder alarms, intruder detection systems or, as most people call them “burglar alarms” are installed in a wide variety of properties to keep premises safe. The type of property can range from residential housing developments through to commercial offices, factories and high security bank premises and vaults. Like all protective systems they are only effective if they operate faultlessly. Tecserv UK Security Operations Manager, Craig Barrington highlights some common intruder alarm faults.

An Intruder alarm system is designed to send or sound an alert if the system detects an unauthorised intruder entering a protected property. Their presence on a building can also act as a deterrent. However, like all electrical systems, their benefits can only be realised if they operate faultlessly. This means doing everything you can to ensure that false alarm activations are a rare occurrence.

Expert installation

Across the UK, intruder detection systems are predominantly installed by professional installation companies such as Tecserv UK. As an SSAIB Certified Company we only use fully trained engineers who hold appropriate industry qualifications and certifications. A qualified specialist will have in-depth knowledge of system design, installation methods and understand complex British and European standards that need to be met to ensure compliance and that systems will operate reliably.

Sadly, however, not all installations are designed, installed or maintained by qualified professionals and this may mean the system  may not operate and work reliably, which may cause unwanted or false alarm activations.

The increased availability of intruder alarm systems that can easily be purchased from DIY stores, wholesale outlets and other online retailers mean that an increasing number of intruder alarm systems are installed by people who may not necessary have up to date knowledge and training.

Having a system installed by an unqualified person is likely to increase the chances of a false alarm as well as the risk that the alarm will not activate when it should.

Regular Maintenance

Another cause of false alarms is lack of regular maintenance. There are a high number of intruder alarm systems that even if they have been installed by professional installers, have been forgotten about after installation and have never been routinely serviced or maintained.

Component parts of intruder detection systems are made of complicated and sophisticated electronics, and without regular maintenance and inspection, this means they will be susceptible to failure causing false alarms.

Signing up to a regular intruder alarm maintenance means that your servicing costs can be accounted for in your financial plan and any unbudgeted costs that may arise from an unexpected repair can be minimised.

When do most false alarms occur?

False alarms or unwanted events normally occur after a system is set, normally this is to protect the premises when they are unoccupied, and in most cases out of normal business hours.

They also occur when the alarm is being set or unset when premises are being opened or closed. It is therefore essential to ensure users are regularly trained.

Why false alarms are bad for business

Faulty detection devices, and ineffective control system operation also leave the system open to be easily defeated in the event of an intrusion. If devices are not working as they should, it means the system is unable to do its job correctly, which could cause inconvenience, lead to unforeseen costs to repair damages or replace stolen goods and increase the risk of future break-ins.

False alarm or unwanted events also have a direct impact on many people. Key holders or premises owners will be inconvenienced as they will be required to respond to check the activation. Neighbours will be disturbed by the noise of alarms sounding, and if systems are linked to a Police response, there is a risk that that response will be withdrawn, which may have a knock-on effect in insurance cover.

Common intruder alarm faults

There are various common problems or faults that can occur with a system. Some can be easily prevented by the end user and good housekeeping, whilst others would and should be carried out routinely by a professional service provider like Tecserv UK. Regular maintenance helps to ensure the system operates effectively and false alarms are minimised.

During routine maintenance, these are some of the areas a qualified engineer will inspect to ensure your intruder alarm system helps to protect people, processes and property:

  • Cables for Loose or worn terminations
  • Incorrect resistance & voltages from device to control equipment
  • Sensitivity settings of devices
  • Tamper & masking effectiveness (depending on system grade)
  • Battery standby voltages and capacity
  • Fault logs and activation records
  • Incorrect device positioning / general system design
  • System walks tests
  • Full setting /unsetting procedures
  • Signalling and transmission test (where applicable)

These are actions the end user can take to minimise false alarms:

  • Ensure system is installed by a SSAIB certificated company
  • Train users how to use the system
  • Ensure sensors or kept clean and free from dust
  • Detectors are free from detection obstructions
  • Ensure the system is routinely services by a qualified professional

Ideally, intruder detection system checks should be carried out routinely under an annual service agreement as this is the best way to ensure total piece of mind that your system will activate when an intruder tries to gain unauthorised access. It’s also the best way to avoid false or unwanted alarm activations.

If it has been a while since your intruder alarm has been inspected, or you have a current fault that you would like repaired, please get in touch to discuss how our maintenance packages or adhoc call-out services can help your business.


Mick Brooke

Mick has over 30 years experience working within the Fire and Security industry. Starting as an installation engineer and quickly progressing into both operational and sales management roles.

Posted on: 2 November 2018
Posted in: Advice, News, Uncategorised
Author: Mick Brooke