Forced Door Alarms For Access Control Tutorial

By: Brian Rhodes, Published on Apr 04, 2018

One of the most important access control alarms is also often ignored.

"Forced Door" provides a vital and even critical notification against security risks, but many users simply dismiss them as too minor for a response.

Why is this the case? How can the situation be corrected? We examine these key factors inside:

  • Why Forced Door Alarms Are Ignored As Nuisance
  • Ignoring Them Is A Bad Policy
  • False Alarm Root Causes
  • Common Preventions For False Forced Door Alarms
  • Forced Door Alarms Are Option, But Valuable For Security

Forced Door Is Common Nuisance Alarm

Despite the dramatic name, a 'forced door alarm' almost never means an external threat has pried open a door.

Instead, when a guard or security operator is dispatched to check out the alarm, often what is discovered is an otherwise locked and perfectly functioning door.

Coupled with its rather frequent occurrence, many quickly learn to dismiss the notification as 'noise' and choose to focus on more urgent and likely threats.

Simply Ignoring Is Bad Solution

However, ignoring these outright presents a huge problem. While the risk may be low, being promptly notified when someone forces open a door is a core value of EAC. Letting a system malfunction persist and dismissing it as a 'nuisance' is shortsighted and can result in disaster.

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

The Root Causes Of False Forced Door Alarms

Despite the same alarm message appearing on different doors, the actual root cause can differ. Inspecting the door, lock hardware, and access devices for tampering is the first step; if nothing appears out of the ordinary, then observing user behavior through the door is next.

The most common sources are:

Hardware Maladjustment or Tampering

Due to simple mechanical wear or malicious tampering of latches and sensors, an EAC system may mistakenly send 'forced door' alarms. The first aspect to troubleshoot is checking that all locks (electric strikes/ drop bolts / maglocks) are free of tampering and are in proper alignment. Especially around doors commonly used for break areas (eg: smoke break lean-tos, cafeteria access) hardware tampering is a prime culprit. Taped down latch bolts, trash inserted into strike boxes, and copy paper stuck between armature and magnet can result in doors being closed but not secured.

RTE PIRs

Aside from tampering or wear, the RTE devices, specifically PIR sensors, are the biggest cause of forced door alarming. The timing of the sensor is often different than the delay periods programmed into the access system, and if the operation of the two elements is out of sync, alarms can result.

Mechanical Keys

When no mechanical issue is found, the root cause is often 'outside' the system via unauthorized use of mechanical keys to open doors. Users sometimes 'rebel' to gain entry and continue the habits of unlocking doors without using electronic credentials.

Other more specific causes may be present, such as malfunctioning or improperly configured sensors with the door controller or discrepancies in programming logic of the EAC system.

Common Solutions

Fortunately, correcting these issues is typically simple and inexpensive:

  • Hardware Misadjustment or Tampering: Locking hardware, particularly commercial grades, are durable and dependable devices. While periodic tightening of screws or position adjustments may be required, once done the lock is typically good for many more reliable cycles. In the case of tampering, simply cleaning up trash, tightening down sensors, or removing tape and other foreign objects from the opening is sufficient to get doors in order.
  • RTE PIRs: Adjusting PIR / EAC system interaction is more complex than adjusting hardware. In many cases, the time a sensor is active/contacts latched must agree with the timing in the panel, and some trial and error may be required to completely eliminate the problem. This may include replacing the PIR to be based on timed behavior or adjustable settings.
  • Mechanical Keys: Accounting for all issued mechanical keys is the crux of solving this issue. Many keying systems fall out of management well before an EAC system is installed, so revoking and restricting their use is a critical step. Breaking old habits are difficult, but training users on the proper use of credentials in lieu of keys is a necessary step.  Controlling access to mechanical keys with an EAC system via electronic lockbox is one method of dealing with this.

Not Required, But Useful

Many end-users choose to disable or do not use 'forced door' notifications altogether. Facilities that do not actively monitor system status, or only passively respond to events often just leave those features unconfigured. Since EAC system status alarms are only useful if actively dispatched against, the feature would be ignored regardless of accuracy.

However, for facilities interested in using EAC as a cross-functional intrusion alarm system, using properly configured 'Forced Door' alarms could potentially save hundreds of dollars in purchasing redundant intrusion alarm system components. Many EAC systems and Intrusion alarm systems can be integrated together, and if configured correctly, the alarms from the EAC system can greatly enhance the monitored visibility of an intrusion system.

[Note: This guide was originally written in 2013, but substantially updated in 2018.]

Comments (4) : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Delayed Egress Access Control Tutorial on Feb 04, 2020
Delayed Egress marks one of the few times locking people into a building is legal. With so much of access control driven by life safety codes, and...
Breaking Into A Facility Using Canned Air Tested on Jan 28, 2020
Access control is supposed to make doors more secure, but a $5 can of compressed air may defeat it. With no special training, intruders can...
Propped Doors Access Control Tutorial on Jan 07, 2020
Doors should keep 'bad guys' out, but a common access control problem is people propping doors open, preventing them from being secure. Even...
Tailgating: Access Control Tutorial on Oct 31, 2019
Nearly all access control systems are vulnerable to an easy exploit called 'tailgating'. Indeed, a friendly gesture in holding doors for others...
Lock Status Monitoring Tutorial on Oct 28, 2019
Just because access doors are closed does not mean they are locked. Unless access systems are using lock status monitoring, the doors and areas...
Securing Access Control Installations Tutorial on Oct 17, 2019
The physical security of access control components is critical to ensuring that a facility is truly secure. Otherwise, the entire system can be...
Access Control Mantraps Guide on Sep 26, 2019
One of access's primary goals is keeping people out of places they should not be, but slipping through open doors (ie: Tailgating) is often...
Access Control Request to Exit (RTE) Tutorial on May 13, 2019
For access controlled doors, especially those with maglocks, 'Request to Exit', or 'RTE' devices are required to override electrified locks to...
Door Closers Access Control Tutorial on May 02, 2019
Door Closers have an important job: automatically shut doors when they are opened, because an open door cannot control access. In this note, we...
Door Operators Access Control Tutorial on Apr 17, 2019
Doors equipped with door operators, specialty devices that automate opening and closing, tend to be quite complex. The mechanisms needed to...

Most Recent Industry Reports

VergeSense Presents People Tracking Sensor on Jun 04, 2020
VergeSense presented its people tracking sensor and social distancing insights at the May 2020 IPVM Startups show. A 30-minute video from...
FLIR A Series Temperature Screening Cameras Tested on Jun 04, 2020
FLIR is one of the biggest names in thermal and one of the most conservative. While rivals have marketed fever detection, FLIR has stuck to EST...
"Fever Camera" Show On-Demand Watch Now on Jun 03, 2020
IPVM has successfully completed the world's first "Fever Camera" show. Recordings from Both days are posted at the end of this report for on-demand...
Cobalt Robotics Presents Indoor Security and Access Robots on Jun 03, 2020
Cobalt Robotics presented indoor security robots at the May 2020 IPVM Startups show. Inside this report: A 30-minute video from Cobalt...
Dahua Sues Ex-North American President, Says Legal Typo on Jun 03, 2020
Dahua's former North American President Frank Zhang claims he is owed almost $11 million but Dahua counter claims it is just a "scrivener's error",...
Smart Entry Systems Presents Cloud Multi-Tenant Access Control on Jun 02, 2020
Smart Entry Systems presented Cloud Multi-Tenant Access Control at the May 2020 IPVM Startups show. Inside this report: A 30-minute video...
Genetec Drops Support for Dahua and Hikvision on Jun 01, 2020
Genetec has dropped support for Dahua and Hikvision, citing US blacklisting and ONVIF conformance blockage, the company informed partners in an...
Dotty "Hot Or Not" Elevated Body Temperature App Tested on Jun 01, 2020
What if you could take an existing phone or tablet and transform it into "fever camera"? That is what DottyAR is doing with their strangely named...
Optris "Fever Screening Systems" Examined on Jun 01, 2020
German manufacturer Optris has been building temperature measuring instruments for industrial manufacturing for over 15 years, and thermal cameras...
Fever Camera Sales From Integrators Surveyed on Jun 01, 2020
Fever cameras are the hottest trend in video surveillance currently but how much are integrators selling them? 220 integrators answered the...