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How Often Should You Test Your Security System?

A security system will only keep you safe if it functions properly. You should check and test that your security system works at least once per month so you can catch issues early and schedule service if needed. 

With regular testing and system maintenance, you can be confident that your security system will work during an emergency. 

Here’s why you should test your security system regularly—and a checklist to make sure you don’t miss anything.

Experts advise testing your security system once per month and after a service appointments or any system modifications. 

The U.S. Fire Administration advises that homeowners and business owners test that their fire alarm system and connected components work at least once per month. It only makes sense to test the function of your burglar alarm system at the same time. 

It’s also a good plan to test your system immediately after a service appointment. You want to verify that the work done to your security system did not introduce a problem. The service technician should perform a security system inspection for you. Technicians at Bay Alarm perform a detailed seven-point inspection during every service visit. We work to fix any existing problems and test your system to ensure that it functions properly before we leave. 

The other instance where you should test your security system is after you make any system modifications or additions. For example, if you install new sensors, you should check your entire system. You want to verify that the sensors and burglar alarm function as they should. The same goes for if you install new security cameras, replace a smoke detector, or add a new smart home security device that connects to your alarm panel. 

Regularly checking the function of your security system might seem like a lot of work, but it’s simple. Testing your system on your own should only take 5 or 10 minutes (it can take a service technician longer to test your system, depending on the type of service they perform). Not only is it relatively easy to do, but it is extremely important. Security systems are designed to alert you to an emergency but can fail for one reason or another. Testing your system once per month, after a service appointment, and when modifying your system will allow you to catch a problem when it pops up—before an emergency occurs. 

You can perform a security system checkup once per month—here is how!  

As mentioned, technicians at Bay Alarm perform a seven-point professional inspection during every service visit. We typically suggest scheduling professional service annually. But the rest of the year, you should be checking that your system is working properly, and you should always contact your security provider if you notice an issue with your system. 

Here is our step-by-step guide on how to check your security system every month:

  1. Test your alarm siren. Your alarm siren is designed to audibly alert you to an intruder. The siren should blare when it is armed and the key code is not entered. It can also go off when motion sensors or contact sensors detect movement when the alarm is armed. To test that the alarm siren works, put the system into ‘Test Mode.’ If you don’t know how, contact your security provider or consult the alarm system’s manual. 
  2. Test the panic button. Many alarm systems have a panic button that you can press at any time, even when the system is not armed. Briefly press the panic button and verify that the siren sounds. 
  3. Verify that the alarm system arms when prompted. Most people arm their alarm system when leaving their home or when asleep at night. You should test that the alarm system arms properly ton be sure it works when you use it. Simply arm the system as you normally do, and wait and verify that the alarm arms. 
  4. Verify that all alarm system devices are connected. Alarm system devices, like motion sensors, can be wired to your system or connected via Wi-Fi or Z-Wave. In any case, be sure to complete a full-system verification. Most alarm panels will display all devices connected to it and their status. You can also check that sensors work by walking near them to see if they register your movement. If all devices are accounted for, you are good to go. 
  5. Check your security cameras. Security camera lenses can become dirty, especially those outside, which affects picture quality. Cameras may also become blocked by debris. Pull up the footage on your phone or computer to check that the cameras are working properly. 
  6. Test your smoke detectors. Your smoke detectors will operate via battery or wired connection. These detectors have a button that you can press to test the siren. If the siren sounds, the smoke detector works and is receiving power. Take note of any smoke detectors that occasionally beep or have blinking lights and replace the batteries if needed

If you do not own a Bay Alarm security system, this inspection guide is still a good starting point. But always contact your security provider to ask how to properly test your system. They may have a specific testing procedure that you can follow. 

Regularly testing your security system is critical. You should check it every month. If you notice an issue, you can schedule a service appointment to fix the problem. As always, you can contact Bay Alarm to schedule service or to get a free security system quote!