How To Test Your Home Security System: A Quick Step By Step Guide

By Tim Chesonis •  Updated: 08/11/20 •  8 min read
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After installing your home security system, are you sure it will do what you want it to do? How do you know for sure?

Regardless of the system you currently use, you can test your home security system by following this quick step-by-step guide and find any points of failure to ensure that you and your family are safe and protected.

There are Three Different Types of Home Security Systems

It must be stated that the time-tested security system that goes back to the beginning of time, is man’s best friend, the dog.

A dog can protect you by either making you aware of an intruder, or fighting off an intruder for you. They have an uncanny way of detecting sound and even scents that you are oblivious to. In the absence of a dog, or perhaps in addition to a dog, you may have one of the following types of home security systems.

Wireless Security System

This type of home security system is very popular for those who rent their homes because it is easy to pick it up and carry away to another location to be reinstalled, should the need arise.

Wired Security System

A wired home security system is more expensive up front, as it will require professional installation of wiring within the walls of your home. The components of the system are hardwired to the keypad, and ultimately to the monitoring station via phone lines. 

Grand Scheme Security System

The Grand Scheme Security System earned its name by having nearly everything but the kitchen sink thrown in. It requires a large plot of land with a perimeter fence and landscaping that thoughtfully and deliberately avoids providing hiding spaces for potential intruders. 

For example, you wouldn’t find any tall bushes near a window that would hide someone trying to break in through your window or so near a path as to provide cover for an assailant. Additionally, you would probably not find a large area of open space between the house and the nearest visual obstruction. You would also probably find two large dogs patrolling the fenced area. Closed circuit cameras would record motion-detected activity and could be placed far from the house, perhaps near the driveway entrance.

The Grand Scheme property might also have a safe room in the interior of the house that is fireproof and securely locked from the inside where your family could take refuge should the need arise.  Wireless communication in and out from the safe room is a must-have.

The person who needs to use the Grand Scheme will (probably) live in a very large home on a large piece of land. Think the house on a small farm, or other similarly isolated home settings. Due to the size and scope of installation for the Grand Scheme, you would almost certainly have the security system professionally installed.

What Comprises a Home Security System?

Let’s take a look at all the available components that a home security system could have. You just might find something that you had not considered, and may wish to add it to your current home security system. In a moment, we will test your home security system, and look for any failures.

Window Sensors

Window sensors will notify you if a window has been opened without your knowledge or permission.

Door Sensors

Door sensors will notify you if a door has been opened without your knowledge or permission.

Glass Break Sensors

Glass break sensors can distinguish the difference between broken glass from a window breaking, a plate-glass window breaking or patio door window breaking.

Flood Sensors

Flood sensors can detect rising water from the creek, or from broken or leaky pipes in the basement.

Heat Sensors

Heat sensors can detect fire or freezing conditions to warn against frozen pipes.

Carbon Monoxide Sensors

Carbon monoxide sensors can warn of exhaust fumes or odorless noxious fumes from the fireplace, furnace, or of gas leaks.

Motion Detectors

Motion detectors will detect the movement from specific rooms within the house, or from movement outside of the house.

Closed Circuit TV

Closed circuit TV cameras can view activity in and around your house in real time.

Motion Detection Lights

Motion detection lights that can be placed outside the home to scare away intruders as they approach the house.

Today, all home security systems can connect to a monitoring station for a monthly charge. That rate will vary, depending on the vendor and services offered.

If an alarm is triggered, the monitoring station will call you to find out if this is a false alarm. They will verify the authenticity of the alarm by asking you to provide them with a code or phrase that you would have set up at the time of installation. If you do not provide the correct pass-code or password, they will call police or fire personnel as appropriate. 

What Home Security System do you have now? Do you need to make any changes? Let’s now take a look at finding any failures in your current home security system and then resolving them.

How to Test Your Alarm System 

This is how to test your alarm system:

  1. Contact your monitoring station, (the company that monitors your home security system), and ask them to place your system in test mode. This is important to avoid having your monitoring station dispatch the police to your home. Police and fire companies often will charge upwards of $200 for false alarms, especially if it has happened before.
  2. After having called the monitoring station asking them to place your home security system in test mode, using your system’s keypad, you need to place your system in test mode. If you’re not sure how to do this, consult your owner’s manual. If you are not able to locate it, contact your vendor directly.
  3. Make your house ready for a loud noise. All home systems should have a very loud alarm that will sound every time a sensor is tripped. Pets and small children should be moved outside to avoid a panic response, and you may wan to wear ear protection yourself.
  4. One at a time, open and close each window and door, waiting 45 to 60 seconds between each one so your system can reset to ready mode. Remember that you only want to test one sensor at a time.  This will avoid confusion between you and the monitoring center.
  5. Test each motion detector by walking in front of it and noticing if the red light that should be lit, is on. Do this for both inside and outside motion detectors.
  6. Take a glassbreak tester to each glass break sensor you have and hold it close to the sensor. It should set the alarm off. For example, the Handheld Glassbreak Tester is readily available from Amazon for less than $70 and is well worth it.
  7. Call the monitoring station to verify that all the sensors registered with them. It is possible for a sensor to trigger your alarm without notifying the monitoring center.
  8. Ask your monitoring station to take your account out of test mode.  
  9. Using your system keypad again, take your system out of test mode. You will need to make sure that the security system is not in test mode, but rather in ready mode.
  10. Verify that your system registers it as being ready and armed.

Congratulations!  you have now tested and verified that all of the components in your system are working and will do their job when the time comes.

Finding and Fixing Failures in Your Home Security System

You will need to perform a system test as described above and make a list of the parts that have failed the test. You will then want to contact the vendor of the home security system and replace these parts immediately.

After replacing them, retest the system. Double check to ensure that all access points have sensors checked, including any windows to the basement.

Closing Thoughts

You can feel confident that your security system will do its job if and when it is required because you have chosen your home security system carefully. Having tested every component, both inside and outside your house, ensuring that there are no system failures, you can rest easy knowing that your security system will do its job if and when it is required.

Remember to test your system every month using the test procedure listed above. You can then rest easy, knowing that your home is secure, and that your family is safe.

Tim Chesonis

Tim loves writing to help people succeed. He loves tech, Linux, his iPhone and iPad. When he's not writing another article, he's probably binge-watching “The Middle” or “Breaking Bad”, (again). To learn more about Tim, click here.