What causes a false alarm?

What is a false alarm?

A false alarm is described as a false report, such as a fire or burglar alarm, that is unnecessarily set off.

This type of alarm sets off an erroneous report of an emergency, causing undue panic and/or bringing resources, such as emergency services, to a place where they are not needed.

False alarms have the potential to divert emergency responders away from legitimate emergencies, which could ultimately lead to loss of life.

What if I have a non-emergency/false alarm?

Call the ARC direct line at 833-274-6571

What causes false alarms?

Here are the top 8 causes and what you can do to prevent them:

1. Human Error


  • Use of incorrect keypad codes

  • Failure to train other authorized users (i.e., sitters, relatives, children, visitors, repairmen, dog walkers, etc.)

  • Failure to cancel alarm with monitoring facility


  • Use of incorrect keypad codes

  • Failure to train other authorized users (i.e., employees, janitors, delivery personnel, cleaning crews, etc.)

  • Failure to cancel alarm with monitoring facility

  • Failure to notify monitoring facility of unscheduled openings or closings (for businesses using set schedules)

  • Failure to update authorized personnel list with monitoring facility

How to prevent it: Make sure anyone who needs to use your security system has been properly trained, respond to alarms promptly, and proactively provide all updates to our Customer Service team.

2. Accidental Activations (caused by keyfob panics)

  • Keyfob panic button becoming lodged or stuck

  • Children playing with keyfob remote

How to prevent it: Be sure to keep your keyfob in a safe place when not in use and refrain from leaving it in pockets.

3. Smoke Detectors

  • Placing smoke detectors near bathrooms, kitchens, or in areas where steam or dust can accumulate in the detector's chamber

  • Failure to replace batteries in smoke detectors

How to prevent it: Clean smoke detectors with a vacuum cleaner or a can of compressed air periodically to get rid of built-up dust. In addition, cover up smoke detectors temporarily during construction or projects in the home.

4. Improper arming and disarming of the system

  • Failure to arm and exit the home within the exit delay timeframe

  • Failure to disarm the system within the entry delay timeframe

How to prevent it: Have your user codes for the system memorized and be aware of your entry and exit delay timeframes. If you notice you're frequently exceeding the timeframe (and setting off the alarm) contact Customer Technical Support to update your settings. These alarms can also be prevented by entering your home with at least one hand free to properly disarm your system.

5. Pets, rodents, and insects

  • Failure to install pet-friendly motion detectors with adjusted settings

  • Rodents and/or insects near sensors

How to prevent it: Purchase an alarm system that is tolerant of pets (pet immune). Spray insect repellent around sensors and detectors twice a year. Contact a professional exterminator if rodents, insects, or other pests are a repeated problem.

6. Lack of maintenance

  • Failure to replace batteries in equipment (motion detectors, smoke detectors)

How to prevent it: Service and maintain the system, including replacing batteries, properly.

7. Unsecured windows and doors

  • Failure to secure doors and windows before turning on the alarm

  • Loose doors or windows (door or window jiggles or is difficult to close)

How to prevent it: Confirm doors and windows are shut securely and locked.

8. Power problems

  • An inconsistent/unreliable power source

How to prevent it: Ensure your transformer (power source) is secured to a working outlet. Multiple power outages can cause a weak backup battery, which can cause an alarm.

What else can I do to prevent false alarms?

Upgrade to a system with interactive features, like remote arm/disarm, text and email notifications, special apps, and even home video services. All these can reduce false alarms by making the system easier to use and control remotely.

Test your system monthly by calling your monitoring company and putting your system in test mode. Test all doors, windows, and motion detectors to ensure the system is working properly.

Verify the monitoring company has an accurate contact list in the event of an alarm.

Be Conscious of objects such as balloons, blinds, ceiling fans, plants, and curtains within the range of a motion detector. If false alarm activations continue, motion detector may require relocation or adjustment. Take note that high pitch noises, such as dogs barking, birds, or loud electronics near your glassbreak detector, can set off a glassbreak detector.

How to handle a false alarm?

  • Stay calm

  • Disarm your system

  • Call your monitoring center to report the false alarm

  • The monitoring center will attempt to cancel the emergency dispatch

  • Stay put until someone at your monitoring center clears you to leave your home

  • If the police arrive, let them know you are okay

  • Alternatively, you can easily cancel a false alarm in the Brinks Home Mobile App

Don’t call 911, the police, or anyone else besides your monitoring center in the event of a false alarm.

Do false alarms cost money?

Nuisance alarms carry a real-world cost to homeowners. More than 3,000 municipalities nationwide levy fines for unnecessary police dispatches. In most cases, the first offense either results in no fine or a small $25 to $35 fee, but can go up quickly for multiple offenses.