Door Alarm Operational Issues

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With any door alarm system in a mini-storage environment, there can be operational issues that effect the system. Alarms may occur because of various reasons, not all of them being as a result of a break in or mechanical malfunction of the alarm system. This document list some of these issues and what can be done to correct them.

Tenant Tailgating:

This is probably the most common cause of false alarms. A tenant “Tailgates”, entering the facility without using the appropriate access code at the keypad. Usually this happens when they follow another tenant onto the property, but occasionally this happens after the manager lets the tenant in by opening the gate manually.

Vigilance by the manager is the only method that can be used to reduce this activity. It cannot be stopped 100%, because the manager cannot watch the gate full time to make sure that tenants do not follow other tenants into the facility. Fines, or increased rental charges might be levied against the offending tenants in an effort to reduce this, but educating the tenants is also important. Show them that by creating a false alarm, that they reduce the effectiveness of the system, thereby reducing its protection of the property that they are storing.

Gate Malfunction:

Sometimes, when the gate operator itself is malfunctioning ( perhaps due to a broken chain or other mechanical failure ), the gate is left open. Even though the keypads and door alarm system are functioning, many tenants will enter without using their access code. This is a similar problem to the “Tailgating” listed above. Again, tenant education is the only method of solving this sort of problem.

Multiple Units / Access Codes:

Sometimes, a tenant may have multiple units rented. The system has the ability to “Link” these units together so that one access code is used to disarm all alarms for those units.

However, some brands of management software that interface with the program do not allow for this, and they will not permit a duplicate access code to be entered for two separate units. In this case, two different codes are used by the tenant to access their units. In the event that the tenant uses the “wrong” code for the unit they are accessing, they will set off the alarm when they open the door.

Recognizing this situation, and educating the tenant to use all of their codes when they enter the facility, is the key to reducing these false alarms.

Door Misalignment:

Since the door alarm system relies on the alignment of a magnet mounted on the unit door and a sensor that is mounted on the door frame or track, the condition of the door itself plays a part in the operation of the system.

Doors that are excessively loose or sloppy in their tracks, or doors that are damaged, can cause false alarms.

The door should not be able to move in and out more than 3/4 of an inch in its track. Any more than this can cause problems with false alarms, especially on outdoor units that are subject to being rattled by high winds.

When the door is closed, it should always come to rest in the same position. With some doors, notably folding garage style doors, there is a latch on both sides of the door. The tenant should close and latch both sides of the door to ensure that it stays in the most stable position.

“Clear Tenant” Timer Operations:

Some versions of software are set up to clear all tenants offsite at a particular time of day ( Usually at midnight ). This is done because of various reasons:

  1. Users that tailgate off of the facility, and do not use their code to re-arm their unit.
  2. Sites that do not have exit keypads. They have free exit gates, or indoor units where the exit is a door that has a motion detector and does not use a code to exit.

On rare occasions, for sites that have 24 hour access, it is possible for a tenant to enter the facility just before midnight, and then before the tenant can open their unit the timer operation will be activated. This would cause the alarm to be activated when the tenant opens their unit, because they will no longer be listed as onsite.

Management Software Updates:

With some management software, whenever a particular tenants record is accessed ( taking a payment, for example ), that tenants information is then transferred to the system. This has the effect of re-arming the tenants alarm, even if the tenant is onsite. For example:

1: Tenant uses their access code to enter the gate. 2: Tenant then stops inside the gate and goes to the office to make a payment on their unit. 3: Management software sends data to the access system, re-arming that tenants unit. 4: Tenant then proceeds to their unit and opens door, setting off the alarm.

The manager should be aware of this behavior, and if the tenant record is accessed and updated or changed in any way, the code should be re-entered at the entrance keypad before the tenant proceeds to their unit.

Units Outside of the Gate:

On some facilities, there are units that are on the outside of the building and they can be accessed without passing through a gate or door. In these situations the tenant might use the regular gate keypad to enter their access code, or there may be a special keypad installed just for this purpose. Customers that fail to enter their access code and open their units will cause an alarm condition.

Also, it is possible for the customer to try their access code, but they enter it incorrectly. Without a gate or door opening, they may not understand that their code was not accepted, and open the unit door. Point out to these tenants that they should look for the visible feedback from the LCD keypads for the indication of an accepted code.

Vacant Units:

The alarm system can be set up to have vacant units armed or disarmed. If the vacant units are set to be armed, then the manager must know that the alarm will be triggered if they open the unit door to show off a unit to a prospective customer, to clean the unit, etc.

This also applies to units that are occupied by the site manager and used for storage of maintenance equipment, golf cart, etc.

The alarms can be temporarily disarmed if needed.