One very important item that needs a thorough functionality check before purchasing is a home security system. And even after buying, to ensure optimum performance, it is critical to perform regular testing as well. For a home security system, you need that confidence that the system will do what it ought to do and catch or scare off intruders while swiftly notifying you and the appropriate authorities of the trespass. A home security system can only fulfill its purpose of protection and safety if it is properly functioning. For this reason, testing your home security system is of utmost importance.
Reasons for Security System Testing
Home security system testing involves the evaluation of the effectiveness of your home security system. This evaluation is for the following reasons.
Testing the reliability of the security product
Confirming that each of the home security devices are properly responding to their specific triggers is the first and main part of its testing. If they all properly respond (and in most cases, they do), then you can be rest assured that the security product is reliable. However, if they do not respond properly, then that is a big indicator that the product is not reliable and it is not advisable to use it in your home. 
Reviewing the home security installation process
Where installation of home security systems is concerned, security system testing is performed to ensure that the installation process was done correctly and that all equipment is functioning as intended. This includes checking for any physical damage to the system, as well as examining its wiring and connection points to make sure it’s working properly. Doing this also helps identify any areas where improvements can be made in terms of installation or setup.
Scope of Security System Testing
Complete Home Security System Test
Complete security system testing involves testing all the home security system devices one after the other. To do this, you will have to arm the system just as you would if you were leaving the house. And afterwards, you will intentionally test each and every device to know if they are all working properly. You will activate each of the sensors with the specific stimuli they detect then confirm if the alarm signals went off for each of them tested.
Partial Home Security System Test
Partial security system testing involves testing only a particular device among the home security system devices. To conduct this test, you will also have to arm the system just as you would if you were leaving the house. However, unlike complete security system test, after arming the system, you only need to trip a particular device and not all the devices. After testing the device, check and confirm if the alarm signal went off.
Professional Home Security System Testing
Many people find it tasking to test their security systems by themselves. In this case, contacting a professional security company like ours to perform a security system testing for you is recommended. Our skilled technician with perform a thorough inspection of your home security system, check if there are any problems with it and if it is working properly. Any problem found during inspection will be immediately addressed and resolved by our technician.
Test Mode Vs. Practice Mode
Both the test mode and practice mode are used to detect any problems in the security system and reduce the chances of false alarm occurrence.
Practice Mode automatically begins once the system is activated after set up. The duration of practice mode differs depending on the service provider. For some, it can last for 72 hours while for others it can last for 7 days. This is done to allow you acquaint yourself with the system and how it works. Test Mode, however, is initiated by the homeowner for a particular time duration to do a routine test on the system or test a particular device among the home security system devices.
How to Make Sure Your Home Security System is Set Up and Functioning Properly
As a homeowner with a home security system, it is part of your duty to check and ensure that every component of the security system is properly set up and functioning effectively. Not regularly testing your home security system will eventually give you a false sense of security. It is important that you test each and every individual component of the home security system to detect any problems and quickly resolve them. 
Testing Door and Window Sensor Problems
In order to do this, you’ll first need to tightly close all the doors and windows that are connected to the sensor. Arm the alarm system then open the door/window again to check if the alarm sounds off. For wireless sensors, you need to check the batteries and charge them if they are low while for wired sensors, you need to check if the wires are in good shape and if they are properly connected to the control panel.
Testing Motion Detector Problems
Motion sensors usually sound off their alarm when they detect heat waves from moving objects. So to test this sensor and see if it works, just arm the sensor and walk over its coverage area to check if the alarm will sound off.
Testing Glass Break Sensor Problems
Doing this is usually a bit tricky. No one wants to actually break their window to test the sensor. Since it is triggered by sound, the alternative method is to hold a set of keys and clap continuously with it in front of the glass break sensor or loudly play a video clip of shattering glass in front of the sensor and check if the alarm sounds off.
Testing Smoke Detector Problems
This is actually pretty easy as all it requires you to do is pushing the test button on the smoke detector to see if it makes a sound. You also need to check the battery of the smoke detector to know if it is low and needs to be charged.
Testing Phone Connection Problems
An error message is usually displayed on your keypad if there’s a problem with your phone’s connection to the alarm system. In situations like this, it is highly recommended that you contact your monitoring company to fix the connection.
Testing Wireless Sensors and Batteries
The batteries of wireless sensors usually beep whenever it is low. So just regularly check to ensure the battery is not dead and that the sensors are perfectly working fine. All security systems have a backup battery to ensure that, even in case of a power outage, your alarm system will still be functional. Test the backup battery monthly by briefly leaving it unplugged until an “AC fail” message appears. Pay attention to the loudness and clarity of the beeps, as well as its frequency.
Wireless sensors can be tested by unplugging them and moving them to a different location. Then check if the alarm is triggered after re-installing it. This will also show any problems with signal strength, which will require you to contact the manufacturer.
Testing Wired Sensors and Wiring
To test that your wired sensors are working properly, go through each sensor one by one and make sure they’re all responding correctly to their respective triggers. If the lights on a zone or device stay green and don’t blink, that means that the sensor is working properly. You should also check the wiring regularly to make sure it’s firmly connected to all of your sensors, as well as to ensure that none of the wires have become damaged or frayed over time.
Check your water sensors
These sensors are important for the detection of damaged or blocked pipes. Whenever this is detected, the alarm sounds to alert you and help you avoid water damage. Hence, regularly checking to know if they are still working fine is necessary.
Testing Medical Alarms
This is usually found in homes of senior citizens. They utilize medical pendants, fall sensors, and main central intercoms to help the homeowner get an ambulance in emergency situations. For these homeowners with medical alarms, regularly checking them to see if they are still in perfect working condition is advised.
Testing the control panel
This is the center of communications in home security systems so it is of utmost importance that you check it to ensure it is properly programmed and set up. Check to confirm that the security system controller is properly plugged into a landline and an electrical outlet. Problems with the control panel will show up as error messages on the keypad or control panel.
When To Test Your Home Security System
It is advisable that you should test your security systems on certain occasions and some of these occasions are stated below.
Test your security system after setting it up for the first time
It is very important that you test your home security system immediately after installing it for the first time. This is to ensure that it was properly installed and that each of the components are functioning properly.
Test your security system after any service technicians do work in your home.
Another occasion where it is advisable to test your system is immediately after an appointment with a service technician. This will help you verify that the technician did not cause any problems to the system while working on it. The technician ought to inspect the system after completing the work and make sure that they are working properly before leaving.
Test your alarm system after you perform any major modifications or renovations in your home.
It is also good that you test your security system after you carry out any renovations or modifications to your home or to the security system. In the process of these renovations or modifications, something about the security system may have been altered by accident. Hence, checking to know if they are all in their intended conditions is very necessary.
Test your system after any major changes to phone or internet service.
Whenever you make any changes to your smartphone or internet service, it is also important that you check the functionality of your security system. This is because the connection may be altered or severed in the process.
In general, it is advisable to do a home security system testing at least once in a month to help you detect problems on time and solve them.
How To Test Alarm Systems
Alarm systems deserve special mention when it comes to security system testing because they are the most visible and typically the most important part of a home security system.
To test your alarm system, first, for a professionally-monitored system, you have to contact the monitoring center and request that they put your system on test mode after you’ve been identified. Afterwards, tightly close all windows, doors, and any other possession connected to an alarm system. Arm the alarm system as you would normally do if you were leaving the house, wait for about 30 to 90 seconds to allow delay time to expire, then open the doors and windows connected to the alarm system one after the other or move the possession connected to the alarm system. Doing this will trigger an alarm signal. 
Once you are done, verify reception of signals and after confirming, remove your system from test mode. Note that if no alarm signals were received for any of the devices tripped, then there’s a problem with the alarm system of that device.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you test a home security system?
To do this, you have to first ensure that the home security system is properly set-up. Afterwards, you will need to test each component of the security system and check if they are properly functioning. In this article, we expand on this much more.
How Can I Avoid Setting False Alarms?
To avoid setting off false alarms, use pet-immune motion sensors to avoid detection of pets’ movements, practice entering your code to avoid inputting the wrong code, keep the batteries fresh to avoid false alarms due to low battery, make sure the area around motion sensors and clean and clear, tightly close all windows and doors connected to alarm systems, and lastly keep your home security equipment in good shape.
How often should security systems be tested?
In general, it is advisable to do a home security system testing at least once in a month to help you detect problems on time and solve them. Other times include after any major changes to phone or internet service, after you perform any major modifications or renovations in your home, or after any service technicians do work in your home.
How long does security testing take?
Home security system testing only takes a short period of time (about 5 or 10 minutes if done by yourself and sometimes a bit longer if done by a technician because it will be more thorough).
- How We Test Home Security Systems and Services – CNET. https://www.cnet.com/home/security/how-we-test-home-security-systems-and-services/
- The 4 Best Home Security System of 2023 | Reviews by Wirecutter. https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/the-best-home-security-system/
- How to Test a Home Security System: A Step-By-Step Guide. https://homesecuritycity.com/how-to-test-a-home-security-system-a-step-by-step-guide/