The accursed secondary ADT alarm panel in our bedroom started beeping again at 4:30 AM last night. Frankly, I don’t CARE why it’s beeping when it does it in the middle of the night. After all, if the house is on fire or someone is breaking in, the big sirens will go off. And if neither of those are happening, then whatever the alarm panel’s problem, it can wait until morning, dammit!
The last several times this has happened—and always in the middle of the night, mind you—here’s what the big emergencies were:
- MY BACKUP BATTERY IS DEAD! IT’S DEAD, I TELL YOU! OH, MY GOD! WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!
- I FAILED TO MAKE MY EVERY-90-MINUTES PHONE CALL TO THE CENTRAL DISPATCH. WHAT IF I’M THE ONLY ALARM PANEL LEFT IN THE WHOLE WORLD? OH, MY GOD! WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!
- I HAVE NO IDEA WHY I’M BEEPING, BUT I’M BEEPING! OH, MY GOD! WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!
And so on.
There is supposed to be a setting that would prevent this sort of thing, but ADT can’t/won’t tell me the installer code to let me reprogram the panel. It’s a GTE/ITI Concord, and if you don’t know the programmer code, you’re hosed. Which is yet another reason I recently fired them and went with NextAlarm at less than half the price.
I s’pose I could pay an installer to come out and reprogram the thing, but since I NEVER want the panel in the bedroom to beep at me and wake everyone up, I decided to just silence it for once and all by cutting its vocal cords. I unsoldered the beeper and removed it. NOTE: you should think twice about doing this with your main alarm panel (in your kitchen, or hall, or wherever it is), since those beeps are quite helpful when you come and go from the house.
Here’s how I silenced it:
- First, put your alarm into Test Mode, so if you accidentally set off an alarm, the SWAT team won’t burst down your door. If you have an old-school alarm company like ADT, just call them. If you’ve got something like NextAlarm, you can do this over the web.
- Take the panel off the wall. My panel just pulls up and out, so it’s dangling by a couple of wires. No need to snip any wires.
- Look at the back of the now-open panel, and you’ll see the circuit board. Mine was held in by some plastic tabs, and also by three tiny screws, which I unscrewed and set aside. Carefully pry the circuit board away from the plastic housing. Now the circuit board should be hanging free:
- Look at the back of the circuit board, and you’ll see a small black round thing about the size of your pinkie thumbnail. That little bugger is the piezoelectric buzzer that’s surprisingly loud for its diminutive size. Here’s a picture of it after I removed it:
- That buzzer has two pins that stick out from the bottom and go right through the circuit board, where they’re soldered on the front. Look on the front of the circuit board and you should be able to spot the little solder dots that correspond to those pins. I’ve circled them in yellow:
- Apply a hot soldering iron carefully to those dots (one at a time of course) and you can unsolder them. If you have large enough hands, you can hold the circuit board in one hand and apply some sideways pressure against the buzzer to help it fall off. For me, the buzzer fell right off as soon as I heated up the second pin.
- Toss away that little buzzer! Reassemble the alarm panel: snap the board back into the plastic housing, and screw it back together. Pop it back on the wall. Test it to make sure everything’s working. You’ll hear nothing but blissful silence coming from the panel. Since this was my bedroom panel, and we have another one in the kitchen, I can still hear the other one faintly beeping as I test the system or arm it, so I know all is okay. Now take your alarm system back out of test mode, and you’re done!
- Tell your alarm panel what you think of its 4 AM beeping.