March 30, 2020
Spring Cleaning Guide for Better Home Security
When warmer weather
inspires spring cleaning, don’t overlook your home security system
Spring is here, and cozy nights by the fire are giving way to embracing the sunshine and blooming landscapes outdoors. But the U.S. Department of Justice has a warning: May flowers aren’t all spring brings.
Burglaries spike about 10% in the warmer months when people are more likely to travel or spend time away from their homes. Fortunately, adding a few simple steps to your spring cleaning checklist can keep your home security system in tip-top shape, offering the highest level of protection when burglars prowl in force.
Different environmental factors can plague home security system components, depending on their location. Dust is typically the biggest threat to indoor cameras, for instance, but outdoor cameras can be smudged by bugs, raindrops, mud splatters, and more.
A few stains might not seem serious at first, but if they accumulate, the camera’s image quality can suffer. In fact, spider webs stuck to a camera lens are often responsible for the infamous home security footage of “ghosts” that abound on the internet.
To avoid low-quality images, premature system malfunctions, or ghostly apparitions “haunting” your home, a small amount of maintenance is required. Following these simple spring cleaning tips will ensure your system is ready to act when it’s needed most.
Watch this video to see for yourself how an ordinary spider web tricked the owners of an old English house into wondering if their garden was haunted:
Spring cleaning stops
spiders from bugging users with false security camera alerts
It’s difficult to avoid spider webs on outdoor home security cameras. Spiders thrive in dark corners, where outdoor cameras are often installed. Other bugs are drawn to the LED and infrared light that security cameras can emit, creating a perfect place for spinning webs intended to catch a spider’s next meal. Swarms of insects attracted to lights can also set off some camera models’ over-sensitive motion sensors, pestering people with false alerts.
Spring cleaning marks the perfect time to clean the security camera casing with a soft brush or microfiber cloth to remove spider webs, insects, dead leaves, and dust that can impact performance. Look closely for insect eggs or nest materials that could cause damage. Tighten camera mounts if needed.
A microfiber cloth should be used to clean the camera lens; a common cloth risks scratching. In fact, it’s wise to start your cleaning efforts with the lens, so you don't accidentally transfer dirt from another part of the camera.
Knocking down webs near your camera with a broom can encourage spiders to find a safer location to lure bugs. Periodically spraying a repellent can also keep creepy crawlies from gumming up your camera’s works—but be careful to avoid spraying the camera lens directly. Most repellents contain diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET), a solvent that can be damaging.
Keep this in mind as well: Choosing cameras infused with smart video analytics like Frontpoint Security’s Outdoor Camera can also prevent creepy crawlies from wasting your time with false security system alerts. With the ability to differentiate people from moving objects and animals, Frontpoint’s camera will ignore movement from insects, only notifying users to check footage if there is a problem worth investigating.
Here’s a final tip: While cleaning your cameras, pay attention to their field of view. Spring cleaning is a perfect time to prune back greenery or other obstructions that have moved into your camera’s line of sight. The Frontpoint App can help you examine all angles, ensuring both indoor and outdoor cameras enjoy their full range of visibility.
Spring cleaning tips for
removing dust from intrusion sensors and indoor cameras
Over time, dust, dirt, and debris can gather on intrusion sensors and indoor security cameras, potentially interfering with the infrared energy used for motion detection, impacting camera video quality, and causing operating issues.
Following the specific cleaning instructions in a device’s manual is always recommended. But generally, using gentle pressure to wipe cameras and sensors down with a microfiber cloth every few months—or if camera footage suddenly appears spotty or unclear—can help optimize performance. Special lens cleaning solutions are preferable for a camera lens, but using a tiny amount of water on the cloth or softly exhaling on the lens to produce moisture is also acceptable, notes Maid Sailors, a Manhattan-based cleaning service.
A can of compressed air is another option for removing dust without leaving fingerprints on a camera lens. But if you follow this route, make sure you release the air at a shallow angle, so dust is blown off and not driven back to another part of the lens.
Frontpoint recommends cleaning Smoke and Heat Sensors with a vacuum cleaner on the screen if there is any visible dust buildup.
Harsh antibacterial detergents, solvents like ammonia and alcohol, or rough materials like newspaper and paper towels should never be used to clean a camera or motion sensor. Instead of improving quality, these materials could impact infrared clarity and lead to distortion.
Spring cleaning also presents a perfect time to check that intrusion sensors remain securely in place, as loose, misaligned, or missing sensors can trigger false alarms. For instance, the sticky adhesive used to attach Door/Window Sensors can dry out and cause them to come loose, or they could be knocked loose by rubbing or striking other parts of a door or window.
You should also check these sensors for accidental damage that may have occurred over time—perhaps from moving furniture or sagging doors that continuously rub. And keep this in mind: if spring cleaning inspires you to paint rooms in your house, be sure to remove cameras and Motion Sensors before you get started. Infrared motion-detecting devices that get splattered with paint should be replaced.
Use these spring cleaning tips
to address camera conditions that can lead to moving spots
Spider webs aren’t the only culprit behind spots that can dance across security camera footage. During foggy weather, water droplets in the air can reflect the infrared light an outdoor camera emits, causing particles to appear as moving spots. Fog can also cause condensation to form when warm, moist air meets an outdoor security camera’s cold surface, eventually leading to corrosion that can cause failure.
Spring cleaning is a perfect time to consider whether outdoor security cameras are installed in locations that threaten their performance. Moving them away from perpetually dusty areas or places exposed to heavy rains, snow, or other harsh conditions without shelter can help improve image quality and prolong your camera’s lifespan. For cameras enclosed in a weatherproof housing, adding a packet or two of silica gel can absorb moisture and stop damaging condensation from building up inside.
Quality outdoor cameras from trusted brands are designed to withstand weather extremes, like freezing or sweltering temperatures, high humidity, precipitation, dust, and wind. They also boast high Ingress Protection (IP) ratings, which indicates the degree to which an electronic device is protected from dust, water, and other invasive elements. When spring cleaning, check to make sure your cameras are designed to stand up to your climate’s challenges.
For instance, Frontpoint’s Outdoor Camera is weatherproof and can withstand temperatures that drop as low as -13°F or climb as high as 122°F. It leverages night vision to overcome foggy conditions and stops condensation from forming until humidity levels surpass 95%. It also maintains an impressive IP rating of 66, meaning that its enclosure completely blocks dust from entering—and even powerful jets of water will not be able to penetrate its body.
Check environmental and
intrusion sensor batteries while spring cleaning
Wireless home security systems rely on long-lasting battery power to keep homes protected around-the-clock. That’s a major home security advantage, eliminating wires burglars can cut and keeping systems up and running when the power goes out.
From Smart Door Locks to Carbon Monoxide Sensors, Frontpoint devices can run for years on a single battery—typically 1 to 5, although Smoke and Heat Sensor batteries can last as long as 10 years. The system will send low battery alerts via email, text, or push notifications that give users plenty of time to change a battery before it dies. Low-battery notifications will also display on the Control Panel, as well as the home screen of your Frontpoint App and the online portal.
Sensor batteries should be changed as soon as possible after notifications are received. But although it’s perfectly fine to wait until after the system sends a low battery alert to swap them out, it also doesn’t hurt to change batteries every now and then while spring cleaning to ensure they aren’t reaching the end of their useful life.
Manuals detail the type of batteries Frontpoint devices need and simple steps for changing them. For instance, Frontpoint’s Door/Window Sensor uses one CR1632 coin cell battery. To change it:
- Open the transmitter (larger piece) using one of the tabs located at the corner of both the top and bottom of the sensor. You may use a butter knife, coin, or fingernail on either one to separate the two pieces.
- To remove the battery, push on the side of the battery near the positive symbol on the battery cover.
- When installing the new battery, the positive side should face up.
- Once you have replaced the batteries, replace the cover by lining up the two halves and snapping it back together. You should hear an audible click to confirm the sensor is closed tightly.
Frontpoint’s award-winning Customer Care team and online support page can also offer guidance on changing batteries.
General spring cleaning tips for enhancing home
Spring cleaning can do a lot more than make your house sparkle. Let’s examine some other safety and security benefits to a good deep clean. We also offer tips to help you avoid attracting unwanted attention from criminals if your spring cleaning checklist involves home improvements.
- Check all lighting around the outside of your home, replacing bulbs and batteries as needed. Intruders are less likely to target homes where their movements can be easily spotted.
- Make sure your home’s address numbers are easy to read so responders can easily find it during an emergency.
- Trim back bushes near the house to eliminate potential hiding spots for intruders. Inspect and repair any damage to fences or other outside boundaries that may have occurred during the winter.
- Boxes from new electronics or furnishings left outside could make your home a tempting target for burglars. Break down all boxes and conceal them within garbage bags or trash bins instead of leaving them out in the open.
- If you’re updating window coverings, be cognizant of what people will be able to see from the streets. Blocking windows can help keep valuables out of sight.
- If you’re remodeling your home, don’t forget about your home security system. Once the project is completed, assess whether cameras or motion sensors need to be adjusted or more intrusion sensors are needed.
- Check all window and door locks. If any locks seem loose, tighten or replace them. Be sure to clean the windows as well.
- Now that winter is over, empty all fireplaces in your home to reduce fire risk. If you have a wood fireplace, discard any ash and clean the grate. It’s also wise to call a chimney cleaner to ensure the flue is clear.
Finish spring cleaning
with a home security system test
Frontpoint’s smart systems will send alerts if sensors report issues like a Door/Window Sensor that got knocked off so users can quickly address the problem. But after you’ve cleaned and inspected components, it doesn’t hurt to wrap up your spring cleaning with a system test.
To test the alarm, you first need to put your account on test mode. That way, the alarm will sound at your location, but the 24/7 monitoring station will disregard it for the duration you choose.
From the home screen of the Frontpoint App:
- Tap the Menu button at the top left and then tap on My Account.
- Tap the green home icon at the bottom of the screen and then tap Emergency Settings on the menu that pops up.
- Scroll down to the Monitoring Status section near the bottom and tap on the pencil icon to edit.
- Tap the On button to enable the test mode and then select an end date and time.
- Hit Save.
If you wish to end the test period early:
- Tap the Menu button at the top left and then hit My Account.
- Tap the green home icon at the bottom of the screen and then hit Emergency Settings on the menu that pops up.
- Tap the pencil icon.
- Tap the Off button. This will set you back to live monitoring immediately.
Simple maintenance keeps
home security systems in top order
The arrival of spring often motivates people to deep-clean their homes—and when you do, don’t overlook your home security system. Home security cameras and sensors don’t need much care, but basic maintenance keeps them in tip-top shape. Following simple spring cleaning tips helps ensure your system remains as good as new.
Frontpoint keeps families safer and more connected in their everyday lives. We've been revolutionizing the home security industry for over a decade. And we're just getting started. To shop DIY home security systems, check out our Security Packages. If you have questions or would like to discuss a quote, contact us at 1-877-602-5276.