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Preventing Alarm Sensor Failures

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Preventing Alarm Sensor Failures
March 17, 2011
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Preventing Alarm Sensor Failures

This blog with updated on January 31, 2020 with new product information.


I’ve posted before that no alarm system—or alarm company, for that matter—is perfect. People make mistakes and devices malfunction, but it’s obviously better if the situation is found and fixed before it really matters. Unfortunately, when it comes to home security, you often don’t even know there’s a problem until it’s too late. ADT Security recently had another miss, this time at a San Antonio home where the alarm system appeared to be working just fine.

ADT alarm sensor failure

"Charles Fialkowski says he was at the store when he got a call from ADT Security saying his alarm siren was malfunctioning. When he got home he found it wasn't just the alarm that was not working right. 'They kicked the door, ripped the frame to pieces. You know, ripped the screws out,' says Fialkowski."

Breaking a door is not unusual in today’s burglaries. In fact, intruders target the front door just about one-third of the time, making it the most common entry point for a break-in. It's possible the burglar was watching and waiting for Fialkowski to leave his home.

However, what is unusual is that when the door was kicked in, no signal was received. A siren malfunction is extremely rare but even so, this story shows just how vulnerable any alarm system can be without Crash and Smash protection.

How to prevent

alarm system failure

1. Test your system regularly

While monthly testing is standard alarm industry advice and it’s even written into most monitoring agreements, few homeowners test their system in such a disciplined manner. The best, advanced systems that rely on cellular monitoring are auto-tested every day and will report any communication failure immediately. We know because that is the way Alarm.com technology works—and Alarm.com is the cellular foundation of every Frontpoint alarm system.

If you don’t have cellular monitoring, you should regularly test your security system to ensure the system is functioning properly.

2. Maintain and update old equipment

Year-over-year advances in technology significantly improve security technology. If your sensors or cameras are several years old, it may be time to consider an upgrade. Regardless of the age of your equipment, you should conduct regular maintenance checks. Clean your camera lenses and sensors so they are dust-free, ensure camera views aren’t blocked, and look for any signs of corrosion around wires.

Another important maintenance step is to check for system updates. Regular updates add new features and enhance your security and privacy. Many systems will update automatically and others will provide notice. Always check that you are using the most current system with proper bandwidth and network requirements.

3. Stay diligent with inclement

weather

Severe storms can cause power failures that negatively impact your home security—especially if the storm occurs when you aren’t at home. That is why Frontpoint’s security system uses wireless battery-powered devices and cellular monitoring. Frontpoint’s Door/Window Sensors, Glass Break Sensors, Motion Sensors, Flood Sensors, Carbon Monoxide Sensors, Smoke and Heat Sensors, and even the Smart Door Lock all run on battery power.

Read our blog: Do Security Systems Work If the Power Goes Out? (Teaser: the answer is “yes!”)


Frontpoint keeps homes safe whether families are there or not. 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.

Get safer, smarter home security

Packages starting at $99 + FREE Doorbell Camera

300 off
Comments
Joy
April 21, 2011 at 3:45 PM
Unfortunately, ADT has failed once again. My house which has an alarm system installed and monitored by ADT was burgularized a couple days ago and no signal was transmitted to ADT. ADT sent a technician to our house to determine why they did not receive the signal. It was determined that they installed defective sensors.
Peter M. Rogers
April 21, 2011 at 8:42 PM
Joy - We're very sorry to hear that, and it's truly a cautionary tale. One of the problems (limitations, really) with traditional systems like ADT is that they can "go to sleep" - and you never know. We are constantly checking not just our cellular communication path from you r home to the central station, but also the sensors themselves. The GE Security wireless equipment that we use is designed to notify you so you can be proactive. Each sensor is required to communicate to the control unit every 64 minutes. A failure to communicate by a sensor is reported by the control unit to you - and to us. This is the basis for our popular Interactive monitoring: you can receive a text or email every time a sensor is activated. What happened with your ADT system could not have happened with a FrontPoint system. We would be happy to help you with a new system, when you are ready.
Joy
April 21, 2011 at 3:45 PM
Unfortunately, ADT has failed once again. My house which has an alarm system installed and monitored by ADT was burgularized a couple days ago and no signal was transmitted to ADT. ADT sent a technician to our house to determine why they did not receive the signal. It was determined that they installed defective sensors.
Peter M. Rogers
April 21, 2011 at 8:42 PM
Joy - We're very sorry to hear that, and it's truly a cautionary tale. One of the problems (limitations, really) with traditional systems like ADT is that they can "go to sleep" - and you never know. We are constantly checking not just our cellular communication path from you r home to the central station, but also the sensors themselves. The GE Security wireless equipment that we use is designed to notify you so you can be proactive. Each sensor is required to communicate to the control unit every 64 minutes. A failure to communicate by a sensor is reported by the control unit to you - and to us. This is the basis for our popular Interactive monitoring: you can receive a text or email every time a sensor is activated. What happened with your ADT system could not have happened with a FrontPoint system. We would be happy to help you with a new system, when you are ready.
Unhappy 18 year customer
September 1, 2012 at 2:08 PM
Last night my alarm was tripped and ADT never called. I then called and was told that ADT did not receive the signal! I ran some test with the ADT tech and everything appeared to be fine. I then tripped the system and again, ADT did not call. This morning I called back to see if we could correct the issue and was told by ADT’s tech, they “ADT” will send a tech by but more than likely ADT will not be able to correct the issue. The tech compared my issues to bringing my car to the shop and not being able to duplicate the issue. Are you kidding me!! Why am I paying ADT?? An 18 year customer, VERY displease and now looking for a replacement alarm company!! We had been with Brink’s from the beginning and rarely had any issues.
Peter M. Rogers
September 6, 2012 at 9:40 PM
Hello, Unhappy - and I am sorry to hear about your experience with "that other company." We are seeing more of these complaints and sad stories come through on Facebook, here, and on the web in general: it seems that the Internet is becoming increasingly effective as a place for folks to share their concerns and experiences. For those companies who are known to provide good service, the Internet is a good thing - and we like to think of ourselves as one of those "good" companies. If your customers are not satisfied, it's getting harder to hide. As for your specific issue, my "alley neighbors" (the folks in the house behind ours, here in DC) experienced the same thing. In fact, their situation was even worse, because they were sometimes getting calls from the ADT monitoring center when there was no alarm event. Now that's the worst of both worlds! Of course, it may come as little surprise that they now have a FrontPoint system. There are few things more frustrating than "intermittent" technology problems, and I am a little shocked that an ADT representative would use the car analogy to explain away your experience. I'd wonder what I was paying for, too! By the way, the folks at Brink's were great - the offered some of the best customer service in the business. There are a lot of people (and I mean a LOT of people) who think the worst thing that ever happened was Brink's/Broadview selling out to ADT. Thanks again, and good luck to you. We are here to help if you need us.
Unhappy 18 year customer
September 1, 2012 at 2:08 PM
Last night my alarm was tripped and ADT never called. I then called and was told that ADT did not receive the signal! I ran some test with the ADT tech and everything appeared to be fine. I then tripped the system and again, ADT did not call. This morning I called back to see if we could correct the issue and was told by ADT’s tech, they “ADT” will send a tech by but more than likely ADT will not be able to correct the issue. The tech compared my issues to bringing my car to the shop and not being able to duplicate the issue. Are you kidding me!! Why am I paying ADT?? An 18 year customer, VERY displease and now looking for a replacement alarm company!! We had been with Brink’s from the beginning and rarely had any issues.
Peter M. Rogers
September 6, 2012 at 9:40 PM
Hello, Unhappy - and I am sorry to hear about your experience with "that other company." We are seeing more of these complaints and sad stories come through on Facebook, here, and on the web in general: it seems that the Internet is becoming increasingly effective as a place for folks to share their concerns and experiences. For those companies who are known to provide good service, the Internet is a good thing - and we like to think of ourselves as one of those "good" companies. If your customers are not satisfied, it's getting harder to hide. As for your specific issue, my "alley neighbors" (the folks in the house behind ours, here in DC) experienced the same thing. In fact, their situation was even worse, because they were sometimes getting calls from the ADT monitoring center when there was no alarm event. Now that's the worst of both worlds! Of course, it may come as little surprise that they now have a FrontPoint system. There are few things more frustrating than "intermittent" technology problems, and I am a little shocked that an ADT representative would use the car analogy to explain away your experience. I'd wonder what I was paying for, too! By the way, the folks at Brink's were great - the offered some of the best customer service in the business. There are a lot of people (and I mean a LOT of people) who think the worst thing that ever happened was Brink's/Broadview selling out to ADT. Thanks again, and good luck to you. We are here to help if you need us.
Russ H
November 22, 2012 at 2:53 AM
My ADT alarm went off last night after getting home from dinner - error on our part on keying in the password. The siren went off but we cancelled it out with the correct password. Expected a call from ADT monitoring service but it never came. Called ADT this evening - did a system test and they never received the signal. Due to circumstances ADT cannot do a service call until December 10th - there customer service is very poor. Appears that this dormant failure may be somewhat common with ADT systems.
Peter M. Rogers
November 28, 2012 at 12:22 AM
Russ - Thanks very much for your comment. It can be very scary when you learn (the hard way) that your peace of mind was nothing of the sort. And while no system is 100% failure-proof, there are clearly some technology platforms that are better than others. But the underwhelming service component is equally disturbing: to learn that you cannot get a service technician to look at a non-working system for almost three weeks is really too much to ask. Reminds me of when ADT bought Alarmguard, my old employer, back in 1999. In the first twelve months after ADT took over, they lost about 30% of the customers, primarily for poor service. We had painstakingly built a company with over 100,000 subscriber accounts (small, by ADT standards, but a sizable company nonetheless), and we had spoiled them for years with live operators answering the phone and same-day or next-day service. Along comes ADT with the auto-attendant system from you-know-where, and service response measured in weeks, not days. People left in droves. I thought ADT had gotten better about that in the past decade, but it appears they have not completely fixed it. Sad. thanks again, and hope it works out for you.
Russ H
November 22, 2012 at 2:53 AM
My ADT alarm went off last night after getting home from dinner - error on our part on keying in the password. The siren went off but we cancelled it out with the correct password. Expected a call from ADT monitoring service but it never came. Called ADT this evening - did a system test and they never received the signal. Due to circumstances ADT cannot do a service call until December 10th - there customer service is very poor. Appears that this dormant failure may be somewhat common with ADT systems.
Peter M. Rogers
November 28, 2012 at 12:22 AM
Russ - Thanks very much for your comment. It can be very scary when you learn (the hard way) that your peace of mind was nothing of the sort. And while no system is 100% failure-proof, there are clearly some technology platforms that are better than others. But the underwhelming service component is equally disturbing: to learn that you cannot get a service technician to look at a non-working system for almost three weeks is really too much to ask. Reminds me of when ADT bought Alarmguard, my old employer, back in 1999. In the first twelve months after ADT took over, they lost about 30% of the customers, primarily for poor service. We had painstakingly built a company with over 100,000 subscriber accounts (small, by ADT standards, but a sizable company nonetheless), and we had spoiled them for years with live operators answering the phone and same-day or next-day service. Along comes ADT with the auto-attendant system from you-know-where, and service response measured in weeks, not days. People left in droves. I thought ADT had gotten better about that in the past decade, but it appears they have not completely fixed it. Sad. thanks again, and hope it works out for you.
jake
August 4, 2013 at 7:39 PM
I have been an ADT customer for 5 years. Saturday night my home was broken into and the alarm system failed to notify anyone of the occurrence. The burglar was able to rip the panel from the wall before it activated and the system did not recognize that there was a problem. The burglar was able to take as much time as he needed and took whatever he wanted. When I just spoke to ADT they told me that is just how the system works and there was nothing they could do. Why would they sell an alarm system that may not be any sort of protection at all (other than protecting the ADT executives from having to live in the same neighborhood as I do)? 5 years of monthly payments for this tough luck story?!?!? I will urge anyone and everyone to get this message out because our, if not even you or your, loved ones are not as safe as the salesman selling the system may tell you. Thank God my wife and daughter were not home at the time or who knows how this story would go.
jake
August 4, 2013 at 7:39 PM
I have been an ADT customer for 5 years. Saturday night my home was broken into and the alarm system failed to notify anyone of the occurrence. The burglar was able to rip the panel from the wall before it activated and the system did not recognize that there was a problem. The burglar was able to take as much time as he needed and took whatever he wanted. When I just spoke to ADT they told me that is just how the system works and there was nothing they could do. Why would they sell an alarm system that may not be any sort of protection at all (other than protecting the ADT executives from having to live in the same neighborhood as I do)? 5 years of monthly payments for this tough luck story?!?!? I will urge anyone and everyone to get this message out because our, if not even you or your, loved ones are not as safe as the salesman selling the system may tell you. Thank God my wife and daughter were not home at the time or who knows how this story would go.
DaveG
February 17, 2015 at 9:16 PM
ADT and Brinks should have never gotten the approval from Congress! Nothing good has come out of ADTs purchase of Brinks. Stagnant quality of service and competition. Years ago when i was looking for security for my home, i choose Brinks - cause even back then ADT was more about bells and whistles than quality or service or customer service.
momo
September 11, 2015 at 2:09 AM
fause alarm happen sometimes make you crazy
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