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Do Burglar Alarms need Servicing ?

Friday, May 14, 2021

Burglar alarms are one of the best deterrents you could have to prevent break-ins to your home, or place of work.

That said, if your property is breached – and you have an inactive alarm in place which doesn’t make a sound or fails to alert a monitoring centre – well, that’s not a good position to find yourself in. That’s why it is extremely important to make sure your burglar alarm is properly maintained and operative.

It is a sobering thought that whilst about 40% of homes in Britain are fitted with a burglar alarm, as many as one third of these are never, or hardly ever, set.

Of even greater significance, an even higher percentage of homeowners don’t bother checking for faults – as if having the system fitted is sufficient in itself. This could be considered a somewhat complacent approach to home security and one we wouldn’t advocate. After all, why go to the lengths and expense of having an intruder alarm installed, if you aren’t bothered whether it works or not?

For this reason, you need to ensure that you have a reliable, up-to-date system in place – and the necessary know-how, close at hand, to make sure it is always functioning properly.

It helps if the company who carried out the installation can undertake the on-going service and maintenance, however, this isn’t always possible. For instance, maybe the original installer is no longer in business.

Why do burglar alarms need servicing?

Faults do crop up from time to time with alarm systems. They aren’t immune from mishaps and there are a number of things that can go wrong with them.

This is hardly surprising, given that these systems are fairly complex pieces of kit, relying on a series of sensors to pick up movement or unusual activity.

If these sensors don’t activate, the alarm may fail to go off when it needs to. That’s why regular maintenance is strongly recommended.

How much of the servicing can you do yourself?

Whilst it’s almost certainly best to leave the technical work to the experts, the more superficial stuff – like cleaning the exterior parts of the system - keeping it dust, bug and leaf free, for instance – is something you can probably do yourself.

Nevertheless, each system will have its own specific servicing requirements – depending upon whether it is a product that has ringers or flashing lights which are activated but are not monitored, or whether it is monitored by a call centre, which in turn notifies the emergency services.

For an unmonitored bells-only system, an annual service should be sufficient to prevent any major technical issues from occurring. For burglar alarms where monitoring is involved, more regular maintenance might be advisable.

Above all, you don’t want your alarm going off unnecessarily – this happens more often than you might think.Indeed, faulty alarms that are triggered for no good reason can result in some hefty consequences for the owners.

What can go wrong with my burglar alarm?

It should be stressed that modern burglar alarms are extremely reliable – they need to be, because they do such an important job. But things can go awry occasionally.

Whilst systems do differ, the key components of any modern intruder alarm system are the control panel and keypad, sensors, sounders and a battery.

Faults can trigger false alarms – bad enough in the daytime but even worse at night. These are always best avoided if you don’t want to upset the neighbours!

The following issues can develop, which is why regular servicing in important:

  • 1.Loosely connected cables  

Perhaps your alarm system is getting on in years and cables have become frayed or corroded (perhaps through weather). Maybe the system wasn’t originally fitted by a professional installer and the cabling has come loose as a result.

As a result, key sensors may not detect any intruder, which negates the whole point of the system in the first place. This is a common and rectifiable fault.

  • 2.Batteries wearing out  

Most alarm systems rely completely on batteries - especially wireless versions and also as a back-up power supply.When they start to run out of charge, the whole system can either cease to function or only work intermittently, leaving you vulnerable. If your keypad starts beeping, this could be an indication that the battery is low and may need replacing. You may also get a warning code on the control panel.

You may well be able to fix this one yourself by recharging it. If the problem persists, it may need replacing. In any event, batteries should last for a good couple of years.

  • 3.Problems with the control panel or keypad  

If there are issues with the control panel – the engine room of your system – it may well display tamper or zone faults, depending on the scale of the installation. In which case, it may be impossible to set the alarm. Again, a professional installer will be able to quickly check whether it is any individual components that are causing the problem, or if the fault is actually with the panel and keypads. If it is latter, this will be easy to repair relatively inexpensively.

  • 4.Sensor faults 

This is one of the most common issues with burglar alarms. The sensors are fitted with moving pins which pick up vibrations which then trigger the alarm. If these pins get jammed or don’t open and close properly, it may become difficult to set the alarm. Worse still, you’ll think it is set but it doesn’t activate, or it goes off when it shouldn’t!

As long as these sensors are installed properly and regularly serviced, then there shouldn’t be a problem.

  • 5.The sounder won’t ring  

If someone breaks in and the sounder doesn’t ring, or it only makes a very muffled sound, it may be a while before anyone realises there is a problem -especially if the system isn’t linked to a monitoring centre.

If there is a fault with the sounder, this may be due to a problem with the battery (low on charge, for example) or it has become rusty or blocked. This is usually an easy fix – either with a good clean or a replacement part.

What you can expect from being on a Service Agreement 

Setting up a maintenance contract once your alarm system is installed – tailored to your requirements - is your guarantee that the system will be properly cared for. It removes any onus from you. Instead, you’ll be safe in the knowledge that the system will be in proper working condition at all times. It also means that you can benefit from reduced call-out and labour charges. These are included within the contract. Typically, this is what you could expect from one of our service agreements:

  • Cover for both commercial and residential installations
  • Emergency, 24-hour call out – we’ll be there if your alarm goes off in the middle of the night
  • We will let you know in advance when your next service is due – you won’t be left to remember this
  • We are on hand to talk through faults over the phone. It may well be the case that we can fix things at distance, should they go wrong
  • Maintenance contracts for both domestic and commercial customers include a full test of the alarm system, all sounders, sensors and the control panel.

If problems occur outside your regular servicing schedule, it is best to contact your burglar alarm service provider immediately. For our part, we would recommend a maintenance package that is commensurate with the size of your property.

It’s worth noting, too, that regular maintenance won’t just ensure your system is working properly at all times, it will also prolong its life.

Monitoring, repair and maintenance is, therefore, essential and shouldn’t be taken for granted – even if you are inclined to only use your system from time to time and think that it won’t need any or little servicing because it isn’t being used very often.

What is the cost of a maintenance agreement?

There is no comparison between the cost of having your alarm system regularly serviced, compared to the cost of being burgled. There is always a price to pay but we can create an affordable package, to match your budget and security requirements.

Many of these issues can be self-fixed. BUT if you would rather avoid going up a ladder at 3 in the morning trying in vain to stop your alarm from waking up every house within a 5-mile radius, then regular, professional servicing is always the answer.

If you don’t currently have a 24/7 service agreement, for complete peace of mind, now might be the time to arrange one.

For all enquiries, please call our main switchboard on 0845 468 0927 or find your local office here