What Are False Alarms and How Does that Impact My Home Security?

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One thing that comes along with owning most security systems is false alarms. Here are your questions answered by our security system experts.

Video: What Happens When Your Security Alarm Goes Off?

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What is a false alarm?

A false alarm is when your security system's alarm goes off and there is no emergency. If you have a self-monitored system, a false alarm is no biggy. You'll get a notification that your alarm is going off and you can choose what to do from there. 

With monitored systems, though, a false alarm can be a huge deal. If the monitoring center can't reach you, they may call for emergency services. Often, residents are charged if emergency services are called. Sometimes they'll let you off with a warning, but too many false alarms and you could be facing a bill worth hundreds of dollars. 

How can I prevent false alarms?

Best security system with verification
SimpliSafe
SimpliSafe Fast Protect Monitoring
$29.99
/mo
pro Protection against break-ins, fire, floods, and more
pro Lifetime warranty on equipment

 *Amazon.com price as of post date. Read full disclaimer.

The easiest way to prevent a false alarm is to always keep your phone on you to disable the alarm through the app before emergency services are called. Now, we know that's not always practical. 

Your best bet is to go with a security system that has a verified response system. This means that the security monitoring center will verify that there's something wrong (like an intruder or injury) before calling for emergency services. They can do this by viewing the situation through security cameras or by sending a security professional to inspect your home in person. More and more towns are requiring verification before they will send emergency vehicles.

What security companies have verified response?

Some security companies that have verified response are:

  • SimpliSafe: The monitoring center checks the situation through security cameras.
  • ADT: The company uses video camera verification.
  • Ring: The Alarm Verified Guard Response sends a third-party guard to verify an alarming event.
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A great way to halt false alarms

If you think your pet is setting off your alarms, look for a company that offers pet-friendly sensors and security cameras. Here's our list of the best pet-friendly security systems.

What are the dangers of false fire alarms?

Other than costing you a bunch in fines from emergency services, the police officers, fire trucks and EMTs that come to your home may be needed elsewhere. This may keep a legitimate emergency from getting the help it needs in a timely manner. 

What is the most common cause of false alarms?

According to Bay Alarm, 80% of false alarms are due to user error, like forgetting your PIN when disarming your system.

Why is my home security alarm going off for no reason?

There could be several reasons. Here are a few to consider:

  • The battery on the control panel may be low.
  • The sensors are detecting pets walking by.
  • The sensors may be defective or need a battery change.
  • The sensors' sensitivity level is set too high.
  • The fire detection sensors may be too close to heat sources, like bathroom steam or heaters.

Compare the best home security systems

Brand
Best for
Monthly cost bullet
Starter equipment price
Contract required
Smart home compatibility bullet
Learn more
Read review
Best professional security$599.00No *Amazon,
Google,
Z-Wave
Best DIY security$245.00NoAmazon,
Google
Most trusted security brand$0.00YesAmazon,
Google,
Z-Wave
Budget pick$199.99NoAmazon,
Google,
Z-Wave
Quality DIY pick$129.00No Amazon,
Google,
Z-Wave
Most gadgets$99.99NoAmazon,
Google
Best sensors$199.99NoAmazon,
Google,
Apple
Best customer ratingQuote requiredNo *Amazon,
Google

Amazon.com price as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. Read full disclaimer.
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Alina Bradford
Written by
Alina Bradford
Alina is a safety and security expert that has contributed her insights to CNET, CBS, Digital Trends, MTV, Top Ten Reviews, and many others. Her goal is to make safety and security gadgets less mystifying one article at a time. In the early 2000s, Alina worked as a volunteer firefighter, earning her first responder certification and paving the way to her current career. Her activities aren’t nearly as dangerous today. Her hobbies include fixing up her 100-year-old house, doing artsy stuff, and going to the lake with her family.

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