This post was originally published on September 4, 2018 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

The sound of an alarm system instinctually creates panic, and most people would rather avoid it. However, it’s important to test these systems to ensure they function properly when you need them most.

The test itself is a fairly simple process, but you’ll want to perform it correctly.

Below are several ways you can test your home security system’s performance, and how often you should be thinking about it.

Communicate the Testing to Affected Parties

Prior to running a test on your home security system, alert everyone in the house. This will help avoid panic or disruption to daily activities.

Alert your neighbors if they live nearby and if your system is especially loud, so they don’t suspect criminal activity in your house. To give your neighbors peace of mind, notify them that you’ll test your system one day a month. However, don’t be too casual with talking about your selected time period. Potential thieves could take advantage of that knowledge.

Finally, ask your security company about whether you should alert them for the test. They will be thankful that you are trying to help avoid false alarms, which keep emergency responders away from true emergencies.

Frequency of Tests

The first alarms you should test are your fire alarms and smoke detectors. Three out of five deaths caused by fires are on properties without a working fire alarm.

The U.S. Fire Administration has a few useful tips for when to test them.

  • Check the manufacturing date on the back of the smoke detector. These alarms have a ten-year lifespan.
  • Test each alarm once a month. It’s as easy as pushing the “test” button on your system.
  • Test every alarm. There should be one in each sleeping area, kitchens, rooms with fireplaces and on every floor of the home.

What about the rest of your security system? Aside from regular tests, there are other times to investigate the status of the system. In general, test your system:

  • Once a month. Pick a consistent day of the month to test each system so it becomes a habit.
  • After any scheduled maintenance worker leaves your home. No matter what they’re working on, it’s best practice to ensure they haven’t interfered with your security accidentally.
  • After you’ve had a house sitter, babysitter or pet sitter in your home. They may have made changes to your system, such as disabling alarms for their own easy access.
  • After any major changes are made to your Internet connectivity or provider. If your security system uses the Internet, those changes could affect the responsiveness of your system.
  • When renovations are completed, whether it’s inside or out of the home. You may have accidentally altered something, like camera angles.
  • After resolving a beeping system. Usually it only starts beeping after an underlying issue occurs, such as power failure.

How to Test Effectively

Work with your security provider to become properly educated on system testing. They’ll have the best knowledge and tips, including:

Are you interested in making the home security system testing process even easier? The Vector Security Mobile App allows you to control your system from any location, at any time, with the touch of a button. Use the app to make sure your locks, lights, video surveillance and more are working appropriately.