Guide to Proper Home Security Maintenance

When you think about regular maintenance, you probably think about getting your car’s oil changed, but your home security system needs some love too. Faulty equipment can make your home vulnerable to break-ins, porch pirates, and more.

Device maintenance varies by brand, but we've got some general tips that should help across the board. Add these simple maintenance steps to your calendar to keep your security system in tip-top shape.



1. What to check weekly

We know your time is limited, so thankfully there isn’t a lot that you need to do weekly to keep your security system up and running.

Check batteries

Once a week, you should check in on any security equipment that eats up a lot of energy. While brands say that smart locks and wireless cameras can go weeks without a fresh set of batteries or a recharge, we’ve found that this can vary widely depending on a bunch of different factors. It’s best to take a look at the app to see how your devices are doing each week.

Clean devices

There are a few home security devices that you need to clean to work properly. First, make sure to dust the control panel weekly to prevent dust bunnies and cobwebs from interfering with delicate inner workings.

Next, wipe down the lenses of security cameras around the house with a microfiber cloth spritzed with glass cleaner. After all, smudgy footage is useless footage.

Light Bulb
Clean carefully

To avoid damage, be sure to spray cleanser on a cloth, not directly on your camera lens. And avoid using paper towels. They may scratch the lens.

Finally, time for some digital cleanup. If your security system has local storage, be sure to clear out any videos you don’t need to make room for new footage.

Check it off your list:

  • Check the charge on your wireless cameras.
  • Check the battery life on your wireless smart locks.
  • Dust control panel.
  • Remove smudges and dust from camera lenses.
  • Clear space in local storage.

2. What to check monthly

Your monthly tasks are all about updates and check-ups to make sure everything is running smoothly.

Update the app

Make sure that your home security app is updated to prevent glitches when you’re using it and to prevent vulnerabilities that create loopholes for hackers.

How to update apps using the Apple Store:

  1. Open the App Store on your phone.
  2. Tap your profile icon.
  3. Find the app in the list.
  4. Tap the Update button next to the app name.

How to update apps using Google Play:

  1. Open the Google Play Store app.
  2. Tap your profile icon.
  3. Choose My apps & games option.
  4. Find the app in the list.
  5. Tap the Update button next to the app name.

Run a self-diagnostic on the control panel

Vivint Sky Control Panel

Next, run the test mode on the control panel. This will put the control panel into self-diagnosis mode and work out any bugs.

Make sure you call your security system‘s customer service line to walk you through this step the first time. Otherwise, it might trigger an alarm and an unnecessary visit from emergency services.

While you’re on the line, ask the representative how often you should run the self-diagnostic. Some, like ADT, just say you should do it “periodically.” We think once a month is a good idea, particularly if the control panel is giving you problems, but follow the company’s advice if it offers a recommendation.

Check the status of your medical alert devices

Don’t forget your medical alert devices when you’re running maintenance checks. Many of these devices have test buttons that allow you to make a test call to ensure that it’s still functioning properly. You can also call your security company to run a status check on your devices.

Check your fire detectors

Go around your house and test all of your fire alarms to make sure they are working. Some smart detectors can be tested using the app.

Check it off your list:

  • Update app.
  • Run the test mode on the control panel to work out bugs.
  • Check status of medical alert devices.
  • Make sure your fire detectors are working.

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3. What to check every six months

Our six-month maintenance list focuses on items you probably don’t think about much after you set up your security system.

Inspect sensors

photo of window and door sensor in home

Typically, people stick their sensors up and never give them another thought . . . unless they start malfunctioning. A little care can keep them from giving you any trouble down the road.

First, walk around and make sure that all of your sensors are still firmly attached to windows, walls, and door jams. Rambunctious kiddos, kitties, and Fidos can peel stickable sensors off the wall. Humidity can also make sensors go asunder.

Next, try to set off each motion, window, and door sensor to make sure it is still sending notifications. We suggest doing a little dance in front of the motion sensors to set them off, but a silly walk is just as entertaining and effective.

If the motion sensor doesn’t seem to be working, it may need a change of batteries or reconnection to your system. If those fixes don’t work, contact your security system company for help. You may be able to get a replacement for free if the device is still under warranty.

Perimeter check

A lot can happen in your yard as the seasons change, so checking your outdoor security devices every six months is a good idea.

First, go into the camera’s app and tweak the activity zone and privacy zone settings. Make adjustments to where each camera can “see” and detect motion. Did a tree in the front yard grow a lot over the past six months, and now a branch keeps setting off your notifications? Make adjustments to stop the aggravation.

Check security lights and porch lights too. Make sure there are no dead bulbs and that all of the motion sensors are still working.

Check batteries

Technician installing a smoke alarm

Now is a good time to check the batteries in security devices that don’t use a lot of juice. Check the batteries in your wireless sensors, remotes, and smoke/CO detectors.

Check it off your list:

  • Inspect sensors.
  • Do a perimeter check.
  • Check security lights and porch lights.
  • Check batteries in wireless sensors.
  • Check batteries in remotes.
  • Check batteries in smoke/CO detectors.

4. What to check annually

Yearly, there are a few maintenance tasks that are a little more complicated but well worth it.

Vulnerability audit

Take a walk around your home and your property and take inventory. Is your security system missing anything that you need to purchase?

See if there are any places that may need the following:

  • Security camera
  • Motion sensor
  • Flood sensor
  • Temperature sensor
  • Fire/CO detector
  • Extra lighting

Also, take a look around your home for simple changes that can make a big difference:

  • Trim bushes that may provide a cover for would-be crooks.
  • Tighten loose screws in security chains and door hinges and knobs.
  • Trim trees that block security cameras.
  • Replace outdoor bulbs with smartbulbs that turn on automatically when they sense movement.

Warranty/contract check-up

Once a year, make sure to check your security system’s warranty or contract. You may be eligible for new or upgraded equipment. Also, if your warranty is coming to an end, check all of your equipment to ensure that everything is functioning properly so you don’t miss out on free repairs or replacement security devices.

Check it off your list:

  • Vulnerability audit
  • Warranty/contract checkup

FAQ

At least once a year.

Every 10 years. There should be a manufacturing date on the back of the smoke detector.

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Alina Bradford
Written by
Alina Bradford
Alina has been reviewing the latest tech for more than a decade and has contributed her insights to CNET, CBS, Digital Trends, MTV, Top Ten Reviews, and many others. She specializes in smart home and security technology, working to make gadgets less mystifying one article at a time. In the early 2000s, Alina worked as a volunteer firefighter, earning her first responder certification. 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.