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Maintaining Your Self-Storage Security Equipment: Cameras, Access Control and More

Whether you choose to maintain your self-storage security system yourself or hire someone, you need a plan to ensure your equipment is protecting your property as well as tenants’ belongings. Follow this guide to get your maintenance schedule on track.

June 4, 2015

6 Min Read
Maintaining Your Self-Storage Security Equipment: Cameras, Access Control and More

By David Dentice

The maintenance of your security system is vital to protecting your self-storage business as well as tenants’ belongings. Failing to maintain equipment could cause you to lose revenue and customer confidence.

A security technician I know recently serviced a storage facility that reported problems with its gate access. He discovered a whole lot more than just access issues. The keypads appeared to be vandalized, and numerous cameras weren’t working. The housings of the cameras that were functioning were covered in dirt or spiderwebs. The camera images were faded or plagued with ground-loop issues, which means there was no quality review for any recorded incidents.

The tech made notes and advised the manager on how he could improve site security, sketching out a plan for a maintenance overhaul, as the site was clearly neglected. He then completed the repairs, making immense improvements.

A simple, regular review of the site’s security components would’ve saved time, money and, most of all, confidence in this storage property. Don’t let this happen to you. Failure to make security maintenance a priority leads to bigger problems. Not only do you leave your facility vulnerable to break-ins, it tells customers you’re not serious about your business. Here’s how to get your security maintenance on track.

Create a Maintenance Plan

A technician checks a wireless-sensor signal to see if it's working properly and has adequate signal strength.There are simple things self-storage operators can do to maintain their facility’s security presence. The first is to assess your system’s overall condition and note any necessary repairs. Once you have your list, contact a local security company to get started on anything that needs to be fixed.

Whether your site needs work or you’re doing great with security, you can always benefit from regular maintenance. Draft a plan that suits your business, based on all the components of your system. It should address daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual tasks.

First, write a maintenance schedule that includes dates for inspections. It can be helpful to keep a calendar log so you can refer to it later. You may even want to assign maintenance-related duties to a specific manager to ensure proper follow-through.

Daily checks can be a quick and easy way to keep security risks at a minimum. Add any necessary repairs to your list. Here are some areas on which to focus:

Video cameras. Do a simple camera scan on your main video screen. If you have an LCD monitor in your office that only displays footage from certain cameras or salvos, check the main screen on your digital video recorder (DVR) to ensure all cameras are functioning.

Access control. Review your keypad functionality and gate access. It’s best to try some codes to ensure your management software is correctly processing that information. Test the code of a delinquent tenant to ensure your keypads are keeping out past-due customers. There’s nothing worse than discovering that a delinquent renter has accessed his unit after hours, moved out, and possibly even vandalized the unit or facility.

Make sure your gate rolls, opens and closes properly. This is the best way to prevent mischief, theft or vandalism at your property. Also do a quick scan of the property perimeter to identify any possible points of intrusion.

Alarms. You need to do a quick check of your door alarms. Some systems are configured to sound an alarm for a few seconds on vacant units. This will provide proof that your sirens are in working order.

DVR. It’s vital to ensure the footage from your security cameras is being properly recorded, so a quick review of the playback is essential. Test both day and night recordings to see if you have any gaps. This will identify any hardware or software issues.

It’s also important to check the hard drives. Most DVRs have a setup mode that displays the status of drive space and health. It may be that one of your hard drives has gone bad and needs to be serviced. Also find out how many days of recording you’re receiving. You can adjust the motion recording to suit your long-term needs, as many incidents are typically viewed long after they were recorded.

A technician inspects a coaxial wire to ensure the connections aren’t loose, which could cause signal loss on the DVR.If you DVR isn’t supplying enough playback to meet your needs, try “masking.” In the setup, you should have the ability to mask areas that may be causing unwanted motion detection, such as trees or cars in the background that aren’t relevant to your main subject of recording.

Finally, check to ensure any infrared cameras are appropriately switching from day to night mode. It’s important to know if you’re getting the proper coverage and lighting conditions if you ever need to review an incident.

Ask Your Vendors

When it comes to security maintenance, seek assistance from your vendors. Their technical-support departments can help you check the status on all the equipment being used at your facility as well as communication with the hardware.

Communication of your keypads, wired door alarms and wireless systems should be reviewed during maintenance. Both wired and wireless door-alarm systems provide an excellent safeguard for tenants, but if they’re not working properly, you and your customers are vulnerable.

Most wireless systems use batteries to transmit the status of each device on a daily basis. If the battery has weakened or dropped off the system, a quick report by your vendor can identify any specific issues. Receiving units that relay information can also cause communication problems and prevent a sensor from transmitting signals.

Camera cleaning is another task that’s best left to the pros. Regular cleaning is important, as it’ll eliminate any dust and debris that hinder the best possible image. Inspection of housings will also reveal any possible insect infestations that could cause a problem if not rectified.

Having a certified access-control or video professional come out and do a camera cleaning is always a good idea. One reason is cameras may move or go out of focus during maintenance. This would require a technician with a field monitor to make adjustments and keep the correct views intact.

If you have an intrusion alarm, it would be beneficial to do some testing there as well. This is accomplished by calling your central-monitoring company and verifying all your points are functioning properly.

Buy a Maintenance Contract

A simple, cost-effective way to ensure your site security is always up to par is to buy a yearly or quarterly maintenance contract. A contract can assist with many of your security needs, providing an on-call company that can fix broken items swiftly and correctly and ensuring the work is done right. A maintenance contract gives you priority over general calls and can often provide same-day service. You can also negotiate terms, such as replacement of equipment, into the contract rate.

Whether you choose to do routine maintenance yourself or hire someone, you need a plan to secure your property and tenants’ belongings. Without it, you’re falling behind and leaving yourself open to security risks and turmoil as well as potential loss of revenue and your reputation. The last thing you want is a bad standing on social media sites for offering poor security. Instead, make your system a priority by having a year-round maintenance plan.

David Dentice is the installation manager at QuikStor Security & Software, a provider of security and software products to the self-storage industry since 1987. For more information, call 800.321.1987, e-mail [email protected]; visit www.quikstor.com.

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