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Properly Maintaining Your Self-Storage Security Equipment

Every self-storage maintenance program should include the property’s security system. Here’s a look at these valuable components and what it takes to keep them in good working order.

November 23, 2016

6 Min Read
Properly Maintaining Your Self-Storage Security Equipment

By David Essman

As a self-storage operator, you likely have a list of maintenance tasks you perform to keep the business running smoothly. One of those might be the routine care and inspection of your facility’s security system. If not, it should be! You protect your property and people with these valuable components. Since you’ve invested a great deal of money to put the system in place, it makes sense to look it over several times a year. This might include cleaning, tightening, lubricating and replacing damaged or worn components as necessary.

Your system might include access control, an automatic gate, video cameras and an individual door-alarm system. All of these run 24/7/365. The components endure hot sun in the summer and freezing conditions in the winter. Most are exposed to rain, snow, wind and dust. Some could be susceptible to pests. Let’s not forget, they’re occasionally mistreated by a tenant or vendor. They might be bumped, hammered, struck or even shot. Yes, I said shot. (For the record, the keypad did well under fire.) Here’s a detailed look at each of these mechanisms and what it takes to keep them in working order.

Cameras

Your camera system, also known as closed-circuit television or CCTV, consists of at least the following basic hardware:

  • Cameras with or without weatherproof enclosures

  • A cooling fan or heater within the enclosure

  • Monitors

  • A digital video recorder

  • Power cabling and supplies

  • Video cabling

How unfortunate would it be if a camera wasn’t running reliably in that critical moment when you needed it? To keep all the pieces running at top performance, do the following:

  • Verify the stability of the actual camera mount. In a self-storage environment, a camera mounted 10 feet above the ground could get struck by large objects as tenants move in or out of their units.

  • Clean the camera lens and enclosure with a mild cleaning solution.

  • Inspect any exposed video-signal cabling near your indoor monitors and recording equipment and the outdoor camera areas. Look for cables that have been kicked lose or damaged. You might find cabling that has been chewed by your neighborhood squirrel.

  • Examine all of your power supplies and adaptors. These commonly stick up or out where they’re installed and can be easily bumped.

  • In the office, look at the monitor and video-recorder areas, verify the security of their power sources and cable connections, and clear away any books, papers or other items that block their cooling vents, which can cause them to run hotter than normal. Keeping this equipment cool increases the life expectancy.

  • Wipe away any surface dust and clean the monitor screens.

The Gate Operator

With respect to the automatic gate operator, there’s likely to be a list of recommended scheduled maintenance items in the manual provided by the manufacturer. It’s important to recognize that not all gate operators are the same, so their maintenance may not be either. A few maintenance tasks common to most gate operators include:

  • Lubricate the chain, wheels, rollers and guides at least every three months and more frequently based on volume of use and climate.

  • Check the chain for any sagging and tighten according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

  • Check any pulleys and drive belts for alignment and wear.

  • Remove any insects, rodents and nests.

The manufacturer may also recommend verifying the correct operation of your safety devices, such as any electric eye/photo beam, safety loops sunken in the driveway surface, and possibly a bumper strip fastened to the forward edge of the gate itself. The gate operator relies on these devices to provide safety for your tenants and their vehicles.

Access-Control System

The access system might consist of keypads or a type of card/proximity reader. For the most part, these systems are solid-state with no serviceable parts. If your installation was done properly and according to the manufacturer’s instructions, there may not be any reoccurring maintenance schedule.

That said, these components should be tested and visually inspected for damage on a daily basis. Accidents with vehicles and misuse and abuse by individuals occasionally occur and can cause total system failure, or worse, intermittent operation. The keypad can easily fool the manager by appearing to work correctly when tested, but not operate consistently for every tenant who attempts to gain access. If physical damage is present, it’s advisable to contact your dealer. Have a technician open the device and inspect the condition of the electronics as well as any internal connections.

Door-Alarm System

If you have individual door alarms, you can expect them to consist of at least the following, which are activated during an intrusion event:

  • Door switches attached to each unit

  • Multiplexers placed throughout the buildings

  • Sirens and possibly strobe lights

  • Auto dialers

I recommend testing the system daily by opening one of the doors and sounding the siren. Without doing so occasionally, you might not know if the system becomes inoperative. It’s impossible to physically check the door-alarm components in every unit while they’re occupied, but you can inspect and test these components as each unit becomes vacant.

In addition to testing the alarm and confirming it sounds when the door is opened, locate and examine the door switch and wiring for security and damage. Door switches can be mounted on the floor, off to the side where the door rests when closed, near the top of the door opening, or on the inside of the rail where the latch slides through the track. Both the floor-mounted and overhead switches will likely have magnets mounted to the door. Periodically verify the security of these magnets. Examining the door-switch cabling, if visible, is also good practice since this could always be pulled loose or damaged as objects are moved through the unit. Usually, however, an experienced installer will know to secure this cabling in a safe, out-of-the-way place.

As far as the remaining components in your door-alarm system, there isn’t a lot for you to do unless a system failure occurs. If this happens, contact a qualified technician.

These are but a few suggestions for the types of things you can check on your security system throughout the year. It’s important to always follow the recommended maintenance and service instructions published by each manufacturer. Keep in mind not all storage personnel is experienced or qualified to effectively carry out every task. Some may require the help of a security professional.

David Essman is the director of marketing for Sentinel Systems Corp., a provider of WinSen property-management software and security-access systems, individual door alarms, wireless door alarms, and more. He’s been with Sentinel since 1995. Prior to that, he worked extensively with computer-based products and electronics since 1983. For more information, call 800.456.9955; e-mail [email protected]; visit www.sentinelsystems.com.

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