By Trae Jacobs,
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ADT products are specifically designed to protect your home, property, and family. So, when there’s a problem—like your alarm is going off for no reason—it’s essential to know how to troubleshoot your system or contact ADT for a service call.
There are several reasons why your ADT alarm may go off, including:
- Low battery
- Improperly placed sensors or sensor issues
- Issues with motion detectors
- Security camera issues
- Smoke or heat detector malfunction
- Need for a reset
An out-of-control ADT alarm system will not only annoy your neighbors but could be potentially costly and draw unnecessary police resources to your home. Depending on where you live, there may be laws against repeated false alarms. Regardless, your home security is important, and you should know the ins and outs of troubleshooting your ADT security system.
Troubleshooting Your ADT Alarm Going Off
There are a few places to look if your ADT alarm seems to be going off for now reason. However, before you start investigating, you’ll want to bypass individual zones as you troubleshoot the issue.
How to Bypass Zones While Troubleshooting
Bypassing the zones you are trying to troubleshoot is necessary to avoid unwanted alarms. ADT security panels let you know when there is a faulty sensor and which sensor it is, so you can bypass only the sensor you want to look at.
In cases where the security panel doesn’t indicate a faulty sensor, you will have to bypass each device as you go through the troubleshooting process by elimination.
Knowing how to bypass zones is handy, as it will help avoid false alarms, potential fines, and having to schedule a technician. Your user manual will have a list of each sensor and the code for that zone. Familiarize yourself with each, as there are so many different ADT security panels, the instructions will be slightly different for each.
- Generally, you will have to input your user code, followed by a single number, #, or *, and then the zone code for the sensor you want to bypass.
- ADT’s touch screen panels—Command Center and Pulse—are a little different. Select “zones” on the security menu, scroll up or down to the zone you want to bypass, select the zone, and then select “bypass.” You will have to enter your user code as well.
- You can also choose to bypass all of the “faulted” zones, which will allow you to work on just the problematic sensors. You will find the full user manual for your security panel on Zion Security’s website.
Once you’ve eliminated that zone from your security infrastructure, you can troubleshoot it without fear of setting off the alarm. Remember to remove the bypass as soon as the sensor is fixed so that your home security isn’t compromised.
Why is My ADT Alarm Going Off?
As mentioned earlier, there are several reasons why your ADT’s alarm system is going off. Below, we will cover common causes and the solutions for each.
ADT Alarm System Has a Low Battery
Typically, your ADT system will emit an annoying beep when the battery reaches a critical level, and for most panels, it’s an easy solution.
A low battery will send out a weak or intermittent signal, which could potentially cause a false alarm. This is especially true if you’ve just had a power surge or you’re in the middle of a heavy storm.
Your user manual will let you know if replacing the battery is something you can do or if you need to call ADT to send someone out. Most of the time, your battery is located behind the panel and easily replaced.
On some models, the battery is located directly behind the keypad and requires professional replacement. Locate your security system on ADT’s website to determine if it is a DIY project.
An ADT Sensor Has Low Battery
ADT security panels will indicate which sensor is low on battery. Sensors include:
- Motion detectors
- Two-piece and rollerball door sensors
- Garage door sensors
- Window sensors
- Carbon dioxide, smoke, and heat sensors
When this happens, you will be able to stop the beeping or chirping indicators by bypassing the zone where the low battery is located.
Once you’ve temporarily bypassed the zone, replace the battery, and reset the panel to reactivate the zone. If you’re missing your user manual, you can find a list of panels on Zion Security’s website.
ADT Sensor Misalignment
Misalignment of door and window sensors is a common occurrence, usually caused by weather or faulty installation. The changing seasons, wet weather, and sudden temperature changes cause swelling and contraction along window and door frames, drawing the two-part sensors out of alignment.
ADT’s window sensors require a ¼ inch separation between the magnet and the contact, while door sensors have a ⅛ inch separation. The tiniest deviation may cause your ADT alarm to go off. Even a slight change in alignment will cause the alarm to trip. Replacing or realigning the sensors will correct the problem. An ADT tech will diagnose and address improperly aligned sensors as well.
Be sure to check the movement of closed doors within your home. Opening or shutting certain doors inside the house will create negative pressure zones that may cause doors to suck inward, setting off an alarm. If the exterior doors are slightly loose within their frames, this might create a persistent problem throughout your house.
Until you can fix the issue, be sure to temporarily bypass the zone for the faulty sensor or risk more false alarms.
Door Rollerball Sensor
Several issues can affect a rollerball door contact. A rollerball sensor is a single-piece sensor installed between the door frame and door on the hinge side.
When the door is closed, the rollerball is constricted in place, closing the circuit. Sometimes, debris or moisture will penetrate the sensor, disrupting the rollerball. Also—like the two-piece door and window sensors—the rollerball sensor requires a ⅛ inch separation between the door and the frame.
Rollerball door sensors are usually wired sensors and require a technician to diagnose and repair.
ADT Motion Detector Issues
Motion detectors are customizable, and their sensitivity levels are set when your security system is professionally installed. With the ADT Command Center and ADT Pulse, you can set the sensitivity levels via the ADT Control app, ADT Pulse app, or––in case you have installed the DIY line––the Blue By ADT app.
Designed to be pet-friendly, ADT motion sensors use infrared and motion technology to differentiate between humans and pets. While ADT’s motion devices are very effective, user error and common mistakes will cause false alarms:
- Lightweight, moveable objects caught up in air conditioning drafts: Loose papers, fabric, or even lint and dust will set off a sensitive motion detector. This is especially true when your device is set up in an area with a decent draft from ceiling fans or air conditioning vents.
- Bugs that fly close to the sensors: No matter how careful you are, moths and other flying insects often find a way into the house. Bugs are notorious for setting off motion sensors by flying into the device itself or passing close by.
- Poor location placement: If your motion sensor is located near an open window, sunshine will be enough to increase the temperature and trigger the infrared sensor, causing a false alarm. With professional installation, this will rarely be a problem. For the DIY Blue by ADT, be careful to place your sensors high up, preferably in a corner and away from strong sunlight.
- Ceiling fans: The motion from ceiling fans will often set off a motion sensor. If there are fans or vents nearby, either relocate the sensor or adjust the settings in the app. For older model ADT systems, notify customer service for a house call.
- Extreme temperature changes: If you own a fireplace, wood-burning stove, or a space heater, be careful where you place your sensors as significant heat changes may trigger your security alarm.
ADT Security Camera Issues
Troubleshooting your security cameras runs hand-in-hand with the motion detectors. This is mostly because they are similar in operation and what affects one usually affects the other.
Security cameras are simpler because you can see the external issues. Loose paper, air balloons, flying bugs, pets, sunlight effects, and floating lint are easy to detect and deter. Be careful to place camera sensors, so they are not facing open windows. Swaying trees, leaves, and rain will trigger motion alerts.
Moisture and dust can also accumulate, potentially causing a false alert or fault with the sensor. Inspect your devices routinely, or whenever you run a system test, so you can be sure the equipment is in proper working order.
ADT Smoke or Heat Detector Malfunction
The heat changes that affect motion detectors also apply to heat and smoke sensors. If you install a wood-burning stove or plug in a space heater near one of these sensors, the likelihood of a false alarm increases. This includes wood-burning stoves and fireplaces since even a small level of smoke may be enough to trip the sensor.
Dust accumulation within smoke and heat sensors is common, and ADT’s sensors are designed to deal with it. However, in time, too much accumulation will throw off the sensitivity level. At this point, the sensor needs to be cleaned, or an ADT technician needs to reset the device.
Carbon Monoxide Sensor Malfunction
Like smoke and heat detectors, dust accumulation will increase or diminish your carbon monoxide sensor’s capabilities. These sensors also have trouble alerts and “detector end-of-life alerts.” Since carbon monoxide is odorless, it’s essential to pay attention to the warning lights on your carbon monoxide detector.
ADT Garage Door Sensor Issues
The garage is often the place where your Wi-Fi signal is the weakest. Intermittent Wi-Fi signals can cause a false alarm. To avoid this, you may need to look into a range-extender to expand the Wi-Fi signal into the garage or be sure that the sensor is placed with the least amount of metal, concrete, or brick between it and the router.
Garage door sensors function the same way that the door and window sensors do, with a two-piece contact and magnet set up required to remain within ⅛ of an inch of one another.
A wind that is strong enough to shift the garage door will possibly trigger the alarm as well as other weather conditions that may cause swelling or constricting of the hardware around the garage door.
Additionally, garage door sensors come equipped with a “tilt” sensor powered by a CR2032 coin-sized battery. A low battery will often cut off communication between the garage door and the security panel.
The ADT Pulse Gateway/Router Needs to Be Reset
If the Pulse gateway isn’t effectively communicating with your smart home security system, false alarms and inoperative sensors will probably be an issue. Also, your smartphone app will be ineffective.
For smart home setups, it may be necessary to reset your router and Gateway. This should always be done when changing your Wi-Fi password or switching internet service providers.
When resetting your Gateway, it’s a good idea also to reset your router:
- Start by disconnecting the Ethernet cable from your Gateway. It is usually yellow and runs from your Gateway to the router.
- Next, unplug your Gateway from the power source, followed by the same with your router.
- Wait five minutes, then reconnect your router to your power source and wait for it to boot back up completely.
- When your router is reconnected to the internet, go ahead and power up the Gateway.
- After your Gateway has booted up, reconnect the ethernet cable from the router.
You can check the status of your Gateway through the mobile app to make sure it is restored to proper working order.
Testing Your ADT Security System
Testing your system should be a once-a-month process. However, when troubleshooting devices, it’s always good to follow up by testing the system out. Several situations justify a system test:
- After a heavy thunderstorm: Heavy storms have the potential to harm your sensors.
- Power surge: Power outages can cause a range of issues, and exterior devices may also be affected by excessive wet weather.
- Troubleshooting equipment: Running a system test is an excellent way to identify potential problems before they can cause false alarms.
- Once a month routine: Establishing a routine where you test your system once a month will go a long way toward avoiding faulted sensors.
- Wi-Fi password change: Any changes to your Wi-Fi password should be followed up by a system test. This will ensure that all of your sensors are effectively communicating.
- Internet Service Provider change: The same goes for a change in internet service providers. This usually means a new router/modem and internet setup for your home.
Visit www.myadt.com, select “my alarm” followed by “systems management.” From here, you will place your system in test mode. By default, the test mode will last for one hour; during this hour, ADT will not be alerted if your alarm goes off.
Additional Resources for Troubleshooting ADT Alarm
Often, troubleshooting your ADT system is either a process of elimination or trial and error. Sometimes, it’s both. Thankfully, your ADT panel will usually notify you when and where the fault has occurred, allowing you to bypass that zone and repair the issue.
Sometimes it’s a simple matter of overlooking misplaced objects, bugs, or even pets. An especially curious pet can approach too closely to a sensor and set it off. Even in a new home, the weather may have adverse effects, or the house will settle on its foundations. This may cause sensors in your windows, doors, or garage to become misaligned.
Testing your system frequently will help alleviate or head-off potential faults in your system and alert ADT of faulty wiring or poorly placed sensors. However, there are several resources available online to check if you’re still having issues troubleshooting your system:
- List of ADT Panel user manuals
- Pulse Gateway and router reset
- ADT login/Test Mode
- Installing Blue by ADT sensors
- Reattaching door and window sensors
Troubleshooting your ADT home security system shouldn’t be a major headache. Avoid the frustration of having your ADT alarm going off for no reason by referring to this guide and the associated links.
ADT security systems are professionally installed, and troubleshooting faulty sensors should be a rare occurrence. Routinely testing your equipment and knowing how and when to reset your router or Pulse Gateway will help you resolve potential issues proactively.
Maintaining your home security system and the protection of your home and family is all-important. Knowing how to resolve false alarms will maintain a high level of comfort and security for you and your family.