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5 Tips to Maintain Effective Alarm Monitoring

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A few weeks back, we created a post aimed to answer a question many of our customers ask. In that post, entitled “Am I Required to Monitor My Alarm System?”, we shared the basics of alarm system monitoring. This process involves connecting a fire or burglar alarm to our central station. When monitored, an alarm system will call out to our central station upon activation. If needed, a central station dispatcher can then send the required local authorities to help. As we mentioned in that post, most of our alarm customers opt for this service. However, the work does not end after connecting an alarm to monitoring. In this post, we share some best practices to help you maintain effective alarm monitoring for the entire life of your security system!

We will begin by helping you choose the right monitoring service out of the gate. Making a good decision up front will get you off on the right foot and set you up for success. From there, we will look at some tips to maintain the security your monitoring provides. For starters, we’ll look at proper maintenance for both equipment and monitoring. Then, we’ll look at the importance of making sure our central station can reach who they need to as quickly as possible. Finally, we will look at some updated monitoring options. After all, staying up to date can make all the difference in your experience using your security system. Now, let’s get started with a look at a few alarm monitoring options!

A chalkboard with the word "Choice" and 4 arrows

Making the right choice on the proper method of alarm monitoring will set you up for the most secure and convenient security system experience possible.

Choosing the Right Alarm Monitoring Service

We offer several ways to connect your alarm to our central station. When most people think about this service, they think of “traditional” alarm monitoring. This process involves tying your phone lines to your security panel. In turn, this allows the alarm to dial out to the central station upon detecting trouble. For a long time, this type of monitoring remained the only alarm monitoring option. However, times have changed, and we now offer more updated options to provide this service.

Cellular monitoring, our most type of monitoring, adds additional security. This service involves the installation of a cellular dialer in your alarm panel. In turn, this dialer uses a cellular network to monitor your alarm. Therefore, cellular monitoring allows your alarm to dial out for help even during phone outages! Furthermore, our cellular dialer, powered by Alarm.com, adds unique security and convenience. Our dialer allows you to control your alarm system with you smartphone and receive alarm-based text alerts. This extra bit of security and connectivity makes it extremely well-received by our customers!

Finally, we can also hook your alarm system up to your network for IP-based monitoring. While far from our most popular option, this monitoring method does have its place. For example, alarms in areas with poor phone service and poor cellular service make a great application for these additional options. Choosing the type of monitoring that works best for you represents an important first step in creating the most secure and efficient monitoring experience possible. Now, let’s look at a couple tips for maintaining your alarm’s performance down the road!

A hand holding a paper that reads "Inspection Passed"

Periodical alarm inspections help ensure that your alarm’s components and monitoring service will work when needed.

Staying up to Date with Proper System Maintenance

We encourage our alarm customers to visibly inspect and clean alarm components every few months. Dust, dirt, and even spider webs can occasionally affect your alarm components’ performance. Furthermore, we also recommend that customers have their systems inspected every year. In fact, as we pointed out in our post covering a recent Residential Fire Alarm Code Change, our state now requires alarms with fire detection to receive these inspections. While onsite, we test the communication between each and every system component and your alarm panel. Furthermore, we also test the alarm’s communication with our central station.

Many customers pay an alarm company to perform these inspections every year. However, we offer them to our customers for free if they sign up for one of our service agreements! This agreement covers both the inspection and all new parts that your alarm may need, making it a popular option for our customers. Next, let’s look at how you can “self-test” your security monitoring at any time!

Performing Regular Monitoring Tests

Even in between full alarm inspections, you can perform monitoring tests quite easily. To perform this test, simply call your alarm company and have them put your system on “test” mode. This will cancel the usual central station response to an alarm. At that point, the person from your alarm company can stay on the line while you arm your security system. After completing this step, simply open a door or window to activate the alarm. After 30 seconds or so, your security company can see the alarm signal come through and let you know. Furthermore, modern alarm systems also test their communication with the central station on a regular basis. If you have an antiquated alarm system, consider upgrading to one that will perform these tests. Doing so can help you catch any issues before they keep your alarm from dialing out during an emergency. Next, let’s look at another central-station related tip.

Keeping Your Monitoring Information Updated

Upon receiving an alarm, our central station will call your home phone to check on you. If you or a family member answers and provides the “password” you have created, the dispatcher will not call out for an emergency response. However, if these events do not happen, the police or fire department will be on the way. After dispatching the police, the central station gets busy reaching out to your call list. Our customers create this list of authorized individuals to be notified of an alarm. Unfortunately, over time, this list often becomes outdated. Friends and family members move or change phone numbers. Sometimes, even our customers’ home phone numbers change without us knowing!

The Rapid SMS post-alarm menu screen

The Rapid Response SMS app allows you to respond to alarm events quickly by immediately placing all of your options at your fingertips.

We recommend that our customers always stay up to date with their contact lists. Doing so can ensure that you have the chance to cancel false alarms. Moreover, it can lead to quicker notification of an alarm, due to the fact that the central station will not waste their time calling the wrong people or dialing inactive phone numbers. Simply call your alarm company every now and then to ask for your contact list. Security companies have no trouble getting this information and sending it back. At that point, make any changes you deem necessary, and your alarm company will take care of the rest! Last but not least, let’s take a look at how you can improve alarm monitoring by staying up to date with the industry’s offerings.

Staying Informed About Updated Monitoring Offerings

Every several years, a new type of alarm monitoring comes along to make this process more effective. For example, the cellular dialer and IP monitoring options listed earlier are fairly new additions to the security system landscape. Keeping up with the latest and greatest can add both security and convenience to your alarm experience. As an example of one of today’s best new options, check out our post on Using Rapid SMS to Enhance Security. This service puts several monitoring-related commands at your fingertips at all times. You can cancel alarms, contact our central station, contact your service provider, or even start a group chat with all of your contacts using this app! Calling your security company and asking about their most advanced new monitoring techniques can keep you on the cutting edge of alarm monitoring security.

Ensuring Effective Alarm Monitoring for Years to Come

We hope that this post will help your alarm monitoring remain as effective as possible. Additionally, we encourage you to contact us with any questions you may have. We will happily answer any security monitoring-related inquiries and offer our advice. Furthermore, we offer free site surveys for both new and existing customers alike! During our visit, we can address any security concerns on your mind. Moreover, we can make suggestions of our own based on what we find while on site. Maybe you have an alarm system, but want to make sure you choose the best monitoring option for you. Or perhaps you want to create an alarm from scratch and make the best choices right out of the gate. Either way, we will work with you to keep you, your most valued possessions, and your loved ones as safe and secure as possible!