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Security - It's Important; But At What Cost?

Since September 11, 2001, we have become a much more security-conscious nation. We expect better lighting in parking lots and walkways, prefer living in communities with controlled access, and lock our cars and houses more frequently. And we are installing security systems at a record-breaking rate. Companies installing security systems have been one of the fastestgrowing types of businesses in recent years. That’s probably a good thing. Being more conscious about our safety and security is not bad, if within reason and properly done.

We have, however, noticed a pattern that carries a price you may not want to pay: water leakage, rot and mold!

Most residential security systems include a combination of devices to detect unwanted intrusions. These generally fall into two categories: motion detectors and switches (often magnetic) that detect the opening of a door or window. The best systems will use a combination of both, although motion detectors can be somewhat unreliable if you have pets or an air heating or conditioning system that causes movement of curtains or other materials.

Magnetic switches are usually installed in the frames of windows and doors. When the system is armed and the window is opened, the switch triggers the alarm, the police arrive and the culprit is apprehended. That’s the good news.

However, if the magnetic switch and wiring have been installed in a way that breaches the weather-tightness of the window or, even worse, creates a hole through the window or door sill into your wall, water will get in, and rot and mold will follow. For some windows, the hole will actually reduce the weather-tightness of the window since some windows rely on capturing water in the frame to enhance their weather resistance.

In doors, the switch may be installed along the side, but that can still be a problem, as wind-driven rain can seep into the joint and find its way through the hole.

It is wise to take a look at your security system. Where are the switches and wiring? If you have any questions about how your windows and doors are performing, you should consult a construction expert, who can determine if water is getting into your walls.

Criterium Engineers, Copyright ©2006