False alarms are a common problem when you have a home security system. The biggest reason false alarms happen is user error—like problems with arming or disarming the system or placing sensors in areas that can trigger a false alarm.
Make sure everyone in your home knows how to arm and disarm your security system properly. If you have a housesitter when you're away, give them a system orientation before heading out of town.
There are often consequences for false alarms. Depending on local ordinances, you might pay a fine or lose emergency response services to your address in the event of a security alarm. Homes with recurring false alarms are at the most risk of fines and other punitive measures.
Here are the fees associated with false alarms in the largest Canadian cities:
- Toronto: the police service charges $130 to the monitoring centre2
- Montréal: no charge for first false alarm—$85 to $170 for subsequent false alarms3
- Vancouver: the police suspend your alarm permit and emergency response after two false alarms—you pay a $75–$150 fee to reinstate a suspended alarm permit4
- Calgary: first false alarm is $0—additional false alarms cost $75 to $675 depending on the number of incidents in a 12-month period5
- Edmonton: $75 for each false alarm6
- Ottawa: the fee changes each year based on the annual budget of the Ottawa Police Service—for 2021, it's $161 plus taxes for each false alarm7
Here are a few things you can do to help prevent false alarms:
- Place motion sensors away from infrared interference like air vents, windows, and fireplaces.
- Check batteries regularly in the sensors and control panel. If you have a backup battery, make sure it holds a charge.
- Check window and door sensors regularly to confirm magnet alignment and that the adhesive is firmly in place.
- Test your alarm system a couple of times per year—make sure your security company knows you're conducting a test.