When a broken burglar alarm is howling away incessantly, it can be a distressing and irritating nuisance for you and your neighbours.
It's true that modern burglar alarms are increasingly efficient and are much less likely to sound a false alarm. Still, not everyone has a modern security system, and not all networks are regularly serviced or well maintained.
A loud and piercing emergency alarm is most welcome if your house is being burgled, but a broken burglar alarm can be a howling pain for everyone, and it needs to be dealt with quickly.
There are websites out there that offer help on mending a broken alarm, but we firmly recommend that you DO NOT carry out repair work yourself.
Intruder alarm systems can, and often do, use lethal mains voltages, and it can be dangerous to tamper with them even when they appear to be inactive.
That said, our emergency callout repair engineers repeatedly report callouts to faulty burglar alarm systems where the problem could have been prevented with just a little care and attention.
But first a short introduction to how intruder alarm systems operate. A modern security system primarily consists of a series of sensors linked to an alarm panel either directly through wires or indirectly with a wireless radio signal.
The alarm panel contains a circuit board that runs the software that scans the sensors and, if a sensor is activated, the circuit triggers the alarm call. It is worth looking at the components in a little more details.
Sensors are devices where the electronic switches are usually 'closed'. If activated, the switch opens and breaks the circuit. The alarm panel detects the break and activates the alarm.
Typical sensors are tiny reed switches that are kept 'closed' by magnets. These are most often found on windows and doors; shock sensors that detect impacts behave similarly; PIR sensors that detect body heat from passing intruders; microwave sensors that send out waves that can be broken by moving objects and pressure sensors often used on doormats or floor coverings.
Alarm panels come in all shapes and sizes. Some have very basic LED displays, while others give very detailed information on the ongoing state of the alarm system.
Some alarm panels have keypads for entering codes and for setting the system timers and so on.
Many modern alarm panels are kept separate from the sensor systems, both for security and to save space. These panels can be operated from fobs or even by smartphone apps.
Many security systems operate across several zones, each of which can be activated separately.
A zone that covers the bedrooms of a home, for example, can be deactivated at night to allow people to move around while another zone, such as downstairs for windows and doors, can remain active.
There are several reasons why a false alarm is triggered or for a burglar alarm failing to operate correctly. The problem is usually easily diagnosed and often fall into one of the following areas.
One of the main faults with alarms more than five years old or systems that have not received regular servicing is that the backup battery on the main alarm panel has failed; this can often cause the fuse to fail as well.
Tamper system failure
Many security systems will have a second circuit that bypasses the standard internal circuits. When users enter their code to stop the internal circuit, the tamper circuit stays open, and the alarm carries on regardless.
Weathering and damp
External sirens are usually mounted on walls and exposed to the weather all year round. In older units, damp can affect circuit boards. This is less of a problem with modern systems where circuit boards are enclosed in their plastic damp-proof boxes.
Storms and bad weather can sometimes trigger voltage spikes in the mains supply, and these spikes can cause sensors to trigger false alarms. Often a reset will solve the problem, but tamper systems can also be set off by voltage spikes. Surge filters can give some protection to the alarm panel.
Faulty alarm sensor contacts
Over time, the microswitches in alarm sensors can deteriorate. This can be a particular problem with sensors on little-used doors and windows. Contact sensors, for example, can become 'tacky' and fail to open correctly.
A bad connection is the biggest problem with old or poorly maintained burglar alarm systems. Sensors need to be screwed down tightly and adequately crimped to prevent contact between loose strands of wire. Connections can also corrode over time, especially in damp places, and staples or clips may sometimes be punched through cable during home renovations or building work.
Crown Securities (UK) strongly advise customers not to try to carry out repair work on broken alarms themselves. Alarm systems usually operate at high voltage levels and sirens, strobes and bells may use lethal levels of electricity even when they appear dead and inactive.
Repair technicians at Crown Securities carry a broad range of spare parts for most alarm systems and can often restore your faulty alarm to full working order. If this is not possible, your system can be safely turned off, and if you require further help, you can arrange a visit to repair the fault later.
All work is guaranteed and following the repair you will receive a written report detailing any repair work and a VAT receipt for any payment made.
Please note that you do not need a maintenance contract with us to get your broken burglar alarm fixed. We will carry our repairs even if another supplier has installed your system.
We can also arrange to conduct regular checks and repairs to your burglar alarm system to ensure it stays in good condition and does not give you, or your neighbours, any further headaches.