FAQ’s On Protecting Your Home

October 2, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Home Security Solutions

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Today on Lets Talk Home Security radio we spent the radio time discussing questions from my audience about setting up a security system, the types of protection, cost, guarantees and other important questions that will help when trying to make a decision on the best security protection.

FAQ – Protecting Your Home With A Security System


1. I am thinking about installing a security system, what is the best procedure since I don’t know that much about home security equipment, the type of protection, or companies to call?
Many people will ask friends and family for referrals. If they already have a security system and are happy, then that may be a company to checkout. You could check with local law enforcement to see if there has been a lot of false alarms from that company.  Do your research.  There are major alarm companies that you see on TV everyday like ADT and Brinks, but there are also a lot of very good local companies in your area you may want to check with.

2. How many companies should I check with or call out to my home for a security review? Many people have at least 1-2 reputable companies come out.  I have even had people checkout 3-5 which I think is way too many.  At that point people are just looking at price and not necessarily the quality.  Consider your time – you can spend at least an hour to two  interviewing each alarm company.  It really boils down to who will offer you the best overall service, protection, and 24-7 monitoring service that will give you and your family total peace of mind.

3. I have a certain budget for security.  What are the things I need to really look at to stay within budget? That depends on how large a home you have and what your major concerns are.  If you have not been broken into and want a basic level of protection that you can build on as your budget grows, then take a look at protecting all perimeter doors that enter into your home and place at least one motion detector on the main level – maybe a central location.  If you have a full basement with lots of windows – consider putting a motion detector down there. I always recommended having a monitored smoke detector – as a life saving device.  If you don’t install one with the security system, at least get a battery smoke detector from the hardware store.  Keep in mind if your house catches fire and you lose everything – spending $100 plus would’ve looked like a great deal.  Also consider a cellular backup unit in case your phone lines go down or are cut.  You could realistically spend between $99 – $500-750 or more.  The best way though is to talk with an alarm  representative for the most accurate estimate.

4. Which is better, a wireless security system or a hardwired security system?
Here are things you should consider when looking at the Wireless System:
• Can easily add security devices no matter the construction. Easy installation.
• Takes less time to install vs. the hardwired system. Less time-more efficient.
• Purchase price is usually less due to improved technology + installation. Cost-effective.
• The security devices are easily be re-installed in your next home.
• The installation is clean with no visible holes from drilling. Clean installation.
Here are things you should consider when looking at the Hardwired System:
• Many people still feel the hardwired system is a more reliable system due to a direct
• connection. Reliability due to direct connection.
• It may take longer to install due to the homes construction, therefore, costs may be much higher than the wireless system. Longer installations-higher costs.
• It may be difficult for sales rep to absolutely know for sure the technician can run and hide all wires. (Depends on the skill of the tech). The technician will make that determination. Time is money – some wire runs can increase costs.
• Exposed wires are ugly and any holes drilled in the wrong areas can leave unsightly blemishes in your home. Unsightly damage to interior of home.
• If you are building your home, a hardwired system at this point is easy to install and all wiring can usually be concealed. New construction good for hardwired.

5. Do you need to have a telephone in your home to have the security system setup? A landline is generally the best thing to have, but if you don’t have a landline and only use a cell phone – which many homeowners have opted for – you will need to get a cellular backup unit from the alarm company that will be connected to your security system.  This is how your alarm signals will be transmitted to the 24-hour alarm monitoring center.  In fact, I would recommend a cellular backup system as a regular part of the security system anyway.  If your phone lines go out due to a storm or disaster, the cellular backup unit will make sure the call goes through.

6. What happens if someone cuts my phone lines in a break in attempt?  Is there a way the alarm company will know? If your phone lines are cut, your alarm company will not know about it unless you are set up with cellular backup.  The cellular backup unit will send in the alarm call should the intruder break one of the security points, like door, window, or motion detector.  A lot of older homes have the telephone lines totally exposed on the outside of the home and are easy to get to and cut.  The traditional interface box is usually has the phone wires encased in a heavy duty conduit, but there may be some wires that are still on the outside of the box that can easily be clipped.  A professional who knows what he’s doing – who’s looking at a targeted home – will look at something like the phone lines first.  Make sure you check with the alarm company and have cellular backup included.  If you do not include a cellular backup unit, make sure you protect your outside interface unit by making sure that all wires are placed in conduit.  (It’s pretty hard to cut conduit with a knife).

7. How can I harden the outside of my home and make it difficult for home intruders to get through? Make sure you trim shrubbery away from windows and door areas that would allow an intruder to hide while working to break in.  Install automatic lights that turn off/on both inside the home and outside at pre-determined times.  Set up motion detector lights for the front garage, back entry area & front area of your home so the lights come on at night when someone comes around.  Have these motion lights connected to lights inside the house that automatically come on – gives the appearance that someone is home.  Consider the Voice Alert System that actually tells you in a voice unit in your home if someone comes around the garage or back area of your home.  When you select your alarm company be sure to place the yard signs in the front area and back area of your home, along with placing alarm decals on glass – front and back areas. Update your deadbolt locks with solid strength updated locking system.  Check hinges and frame around your door and update-upgrade as necessary.

8. What is the most effective deterrent of the security system? Yard signs and window decals are your first line of defense.  Knowing there is a security system at the home makes the intruder think twice.  Having a reputable company like ADT- for instance- protecting your home stands out.  The burglar typically will go to an easier home w/o an alarm system because they don’t want to get caught by making a lot of noise that alerts the homeowner, neighbors, or alerts the police.

9. Do most alarm companies have you sign a contract for a certain time period? You will need to check with the alarm company as most will vary.  The major companies like ADT and the ADT Authorized Dealers have you sign a 3-year agreement commitment.  I believe companies like Broadview (Brinks) and Protection One may also have you sign for a 2-3 year time period. But check with them to verify.  One of the primary reasons companies require a 3-year agreement is - when they offer to install the security system at a very low initial price – say $99 – they actually are losing money.  They make that up on the monitoring service they provide.  If you only had a 12 month agreement, they would not be able to recoup their investment.  Over a 3-year period they have a chance to do that.  Chances are also better that you will continue the monitoring service well past the 3-year mark.  Many customers have been with ADT 15/20/30 years.  It’s a relationship or partnership you will have with your alarm company.  Check with the company you interview and find out the facts.

10. Do I own the security equipment when I sign up? Some companies offer a lease – purchase option.  This means you pay a low upfront installation charge because you are leasing and must fulfill a 3-year agreement.  If you cancel before or after that time, there is some kind of a payment due of say $100-200 charge.  Very similar to a cell phone contract that you received a free phone by the company, but if you” jump ship” to another cell phone company before the term runs out, there is a payment fee due.

11. If I have a dog and cat, can I still have the alarm on? Over the years the motion detector technology has changed for the better and most companies have “pet” technology.  The sensor can tell the difference between a pet and a person by the weight. size, etc.  The motion sensor beam can also be adjusted so it’s high enough off the ground so the pets movement won’t affect the motion sensor.  If you have a big dog or big cat that jumps everywhere and want to completely avoid any type of false alarm, you could always put the system in the home mode while pets have access.  Or you could just protect doors and windows only and leave the motion sensor out.  Talk with your alarm rep and get an idea what their company experience has been with pets, motion detectors, and false alarms.  When homeowners have a bunch of false alarms, they tend to not use their alarm system.

12. Can I add smoke detectors to my security system? Yes definately.  I highly recommend smoke detectors as life saving devices.  You can never have too many smoke detectors.  For the best fire protection, place a smoke detector on each level – outside bedroom hallways, basement, and outside laundry room.  You can always place a battery smoke detector inside each bedroom above the door.  Most new home construction already puts a wired smoke detector in these locations, but if you want it to notify your alarm company of a fire, install smoke detectors connected to your security system.  Your insurance company will give you a better homeowner discount for having both monitored burglary and fire coverage.

13. What types of guarantees do most alarms companies offer? This is really an important and very valuable benefit that you will want to check with whatever alarm company you are interviewing.  Most companies don’t have guarantees.  I am familiar with guarantees that ADT Security offers since I worked with them for 20 years.  ADT’s offers the following guarantees - a Relocation Certification Guarantee, an Insurance Guarantee, A 6-Month  Satisfaction Guarantee, and a Theft Protection Guarantee.  The unique Theft Protection Guarantee says if you are broken into and sustain a loss over $500 as long as certain requirements are met – ADT will pay up to $500 of your insurance deductible.  With home insurance costs as high as they are, a $500 payment toward your deductible would be a real blessing if you had a home burglary.  Without this guarantee – say with another alarm company – you not only have the tremendous loss of your valuables that need to be replaced, the traumatic peace of mind that was just lost, plus you now must pay your insurance deductible.  You didn’t ask for the break in but sometimes it costs dearly.  Having a $500 Theft Protection Guarantee certainly is unique to the alarm industry and is a strong benefit as you consider your alarm company options.  ADT is banking on the fact that their brand name and reputation offers a tremendous deterrent value to homeowners.

14. The home I just moved into has an ADT system, how do I go about getting the service activated? Just call the local ADT office in your city and a professional representative can give you all the ADT details of connecting the security system to the ADT 24-hour Customer Monitoring Center.

15. I have a security system other than ADT.  Can I activate it with ADT Monitoring? There are some security systems – control panels – that may be compatible with the ADT monitoring center.  However, if the security system is an older model - it may not be possible to monitor.  Again this is something you will want to double check on.  My suggestion would be to call the local ADT office and give them the type of system you have with the Model #, and they should be able to assist you. Having the 24-Hour ADT monitoring service is real peace of mind.

16. Can I save money with my insurance company by having a home security system? Each insurance company varies on their homeowner discount.  It’s best to contact your insurance provider directly.  Insurance companies tend to give a certain discount for just having burglary protection and an additional discount when you include 24/7 fire protection.  Any discount you receive will be very helpful.

17. Do I really need to have a representative come to my home or can I talk with someone over the phone about what security protection I will need for my home? When you call the ADT 800# the representatives will be able to discuss your security needs and concerns, and ask specific questions about your home.  After learning this information, they will be able to give you a security quote over the phone. 

If you have questions that weren’t covered, please send me an email at cheryl@letstalkhomesecurity.com and I’ll get it answered for you.

Remember, stay safe and protect your home and family!

Get a copy of the FREE REPORT-“HOME INVASION PREVENTION” @ www.homeinvasionfreereport.com



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