Dept. of Alarm Stupids

So, Heathen Central has always had an alarm with these people. Over the weekend, we had enough heavy weather in Houston that we lost our regular phone line, and the alarm started telling us about it by beeping.

Ever ten minutes.

Without stopping.

Clearing the error doesn’t work; it tries the phone line periodically to check, and as soon as the test fails it starts beeping again (unless the alarm is actually ENGAGED at the time, in which case the alarm goes off; this is less charming than beeping).

I called ATT, sure (we don’t actually use ATT for voice; the POTS line exists only for the alarm and failover reasons), but in the meantime what I needed was a way to continue to set and use the alarm, even in the absence of a phone line for monitoring.

Well, it turns out there’s no way to do that, and this is bone fucking stupid. An alarm works on several levels:

  1. The big ADT sign does some deterrence;
  2. If some douchebag breaks in and the alarm goes off, there’s a nonzero chance the miscreant will just run away. Someone DID try our (unfortunately unlocked) downstairs patio door at one point, which is on a zero-delay switch. They got it open half an inch and the alarm went nuts; exit bad guys.
  3. If both of those fail on you, then yes, the alarm DOES use the phone line to alert the monitoring service, and the monitoring service will dispatch the authorities.

By making it impossible to turn off the phone line check (for situations such as the one we’re in), ADT has made the alarm system 100% useless until ATT gets off its ass and fixes my POTS line. Given the power in case #2, above, that’s just dumb.

(Well; the signs still work; call it 95% useless.)

I think it’s probably time to shop for a new alarm system. In a city with a history of heavy weather, a system designed like the one I have seriously needs to get fired.

4 thoughts on “Dept. of Alarm Stupids

  1. Try getting in touch with the Security Store. They’re local and their service so far has been exemplary.

  2. With my ire somewhat diminished by time, I’m not sure how much I really want to spend money on new hardware, but I’ll definitely follow your rec when/if we do.

    It may be that Geoff knows a bit about this too…

  3. Geoff is certainly a resource. I know that the SS can monitor with any existing system (other than Brinks). However it is not clear to me if your issue can be resolved without a change of hardware. They could probably tell you. The good thing is that you don’t get a schlocky call-center vibe when you talk to them.

  4. My sense is that I have a hardware capability issue, not so much an issue with ADT per se beyond the fact that they sold Varshia (209 W Drew’s original owner) this hardware in 1997.

    It seems likely that what I want exists, but I’m also forced to admit that if the limitation has only come up this one time in 9 years, well, maybe it’s not something I need to throw money at. ;)