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Common questions about false alarms

As a fire alarm system owner, your role is the most crucial in managing the problem of false alarms.


To help you understand what false alarms are and how you can prevent them, ADT offers you a series of questions that outline this issue.

Four frequently asked questions about false alarms:

What is a false alarm?

A false alarm is an alarm that triggers an emergency response when no emergency has occurred.

Why are false alarms a problem?

  • False alarms reduce the effectiveness of security systems. If alarms are seen as unreliable indicators of threats, they may potentially be ignored.
  • False alarms exhaust the resources of police, fire and emergency personnel and keep them from responding to actual emergencies.
  • False alarms increase costs for taxpayers, security service providers and users, requiring additional personnel to respond to alarms.
  • False alarms can carry fines. In many cities and towns, the owners of systems that trigger false alarms can be fined for each occurrence.
  • False alarms can lead to denial of service. In some cities and towns, police, fire and emergency personnel are instructed to ignore the alarms of users whose systems have set off false alarms in the past.

How can you help decrease the false alarm rate?

  • Train the necessary people in the use of your home's alarm system and schedule annual review sessions.
  • Review your alarm system operating manual. Take time to educate everyone with access to your home on proper system operation. For copies of ADT manuals, call 1-800-ADT-ASAP.
  • Be familiar with ADT's procedures should we receive an alarm signal from your home, including how to cancel an accidental alarm. In some instances, ADT has begun verifying alarms and will attempt to contact you before summoning the appropriate authorities.
  • If your system includes a back-up battery for use during an electrical power loss, check to make sure that it is fully charged. Low battery voltage is the second most common cause of accidental alarms. Most alarm systems visually indicate a problem with the battery.
  • Regularly check alarm contact switches/magnets on doors and windows for damage or looseness. Call ADT if service adjustments are needed.
  • If your system has glass-break detectors, call ADT to verify that they have been adjusted properly so that loud noises such as thunder or nearby construction will not set off the alarm.
  • Check that all doors and windows are locked and cannot be inadvertently opened by a strong breeze.
  • Motion detectors should be aimed away from air vents, sources of heat, fireplaces and windows. If this is not the case, call ADT for a service visit. Plants and other objects should also be placed out of the field of vision.
  • Regularly check local alarm ordinances, if any, that govern the operation of the system and ensure that all permits, fees and other required components are in compliance to prevent any pitfalls with local authorities.
  • Periodically test your alarm system with the ADT monitoring station as recommended in your owner's manual to ensure that signals are being properly received. Always call ADT before you test your system.
  • Always advise ADT before any interior remodeling (including air vent repair, extensive painting, window replacement and any changes to the location of doors, walls or windows) that may affect the alarm system configuration.

What will happen if your system emits a false alarm?

  • Users with recurring false alarms may be subject to municipal fines. Fines for false alarms vary depending on your residence location.



Users with recurring false alarms can be subject to suspension or cancellation of services. The service penalty imposed by police, fire or emergency dispatch units varies depending on municipality. 


You can help make a difference in preventing false alarms in your community. If you have additional questions, please speak to your ADT sales representative or call 1.877.627.0504.