With the seasons turning and the holidays rapidly approaching, you probably have more than enough to worry about as it is. You probably also feel a certain healthy degree of resistance to the idea of taking on any large scale home improvement projects. However, the less-than-jolly reality about the holiday season is that it’s the time of year when burglaries are most common. And even though you may not be eager to add another task to your list, remember — nothing will spoil your holiday season more than having your home broken into. If you haven’t already upgraded home security measures, this may be the ideal time to do so.

Installing a new home security system, along with new doors and replacement windows, could make your home dramatically safer. However daunting this all may sound, these are some of the most worthwhile improvements you could implement before the holiday season and winter weather get into full swing.

Another thing to consider is that you really don’t have to take on the whole project alone. Home security providers offer a wide range of products, and some systems are a little more complicated than others. If you feel like you’re in over your head, you might consider hiring a professional to help you with the installation process. And while Buresh Home Solutions doesn’t install security systems ourselves, we’d be happy to recommend a local installer or work closely with the company you hire.

On the other hand, if you’re more of a do-it-yourselfer and eager to get to work, here are some tips to guide you through the process… 

Installing a New Home Security System

Step 1: Strategize.

Start out by making a rough sketch of the floor plan of your home, and be mindful about every point of entry. Make notes in your diagram about where doors and windows are located. It is wisest to place sensors near every door — especially your front door, where most criminals gain entry into their victim’s homes.

The next step is determining whether or not you want sensors around your windows. Contact sensors, triggered when a window is broken or opened, are a reliable option, but it would be best to have a secondary device around windows which senses movement.

Doing preliminary work like this is an important step — the process will likely feel less abstract and more logical after you’ve constructed a solid plan, and you’ve accounted for every entrance into your home.

Step 2: Wires or no wires?

Home security companies typically offer different packages and kits. These kits typically include everything you need to get started: your motion sensors, your control panel, your keypad, et cetera. The major thing you want to figure out now though is whether you want a wireless system, or a system that is hardwired.

There are many advantages to have a wireless system, even though those do tend to cost more. Beyond a simpler setup process, one of the major advantages of a wireless system is that if you ultimately decide to install wireless surveillance cameras, a wireless home security system will enable you to transmit real-time video footage to your smartphone or other mobile devices — meaning that you can keep an eye on your home, no matter where you are.

Step 3: Securing the proper tools.

While the manual for whatever specific home security package you get should go into detail about what hardware you’ll need, there are a few pieces of equipment that you will absolutely want to have handy, such as: a step-ladder, a level-bar, a power-drill with interchangeable bits (?” flex shaft Glow Rods), and you may also want to look into getting a Sheetrock saw to make small incisions to run wires to your control panel.

Step 4: Read your manual.

To reiterate: there is a wide range of products out there, and the installation process may differ slightly from kit to kit. For a successful self-install, make sure you’ve read your manual so you know about all the unique features and potential dangers of whatever system you’ve purchased.

Step 5: Finding the proper places for your security devices.

Place your keypad where the wires do not run parallel to any other high voltage electrical wiring — as this could cause interference and falsely trigger your alarm. You’ll also want to determine the best place for your motion sensor, siren, and control panel.

Step 6: Securing your control panel.

Grab your level-bar, and determine where on the wall you want to mount your control panel. Cut holes into the sheetrock as needed and install your anchors into the wall.

Step 7: Drill, baby, drill.

Drill whatever other holes you’ll need to route wiring so that you may connect your various devices, all the while taking special caution to avoid drilling into any other electrical cords.

Step 8: Mount the control panel.

Now that everything is wired up, mount your control panel to the wall, and make sure that your motherboard is securely fastened within it. Turn everything on, and program it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 9: Secondary steps.

Now that your alarm system is set up, you may consider installing new doors and windows to further safeguard your home from unwanted guests. Would it be prudent to purchase and install new doors, or are your current doors sturdy enough that only a few augmentations are needed? If your doors are strong enough already, it might be sufficient to install a new polished-brass, “jimmy-resistant” deadbolt, or perhaps a home security reinforcement door frame protection kit, which typically comes with metal plates and screws that fasten to the inside of a door near the handle, making it harder for burglars to pry your door open.

If you do determine that you need a brand new door, you may consider installing a new steel home security door. For this process, you will also require your leveler, and power drill. Make sure you have a socket bit for your drill, and consult this video for further instruction.

You might also consider installing window locks or bars on your current windows (although you must always make sure that whatever you do to your windows is consistent with your local fire marshal’s code). If you decide that you want to install new windows altogether. There are windows made with thicker, intruder-resistant glass. You may also want to consider installing new windows that are comprised of several smaller panes of glass, rather than one large pane.

Remember, holiday home invasions might have once made amusing fodder for Macaulay Culkin films…but in real life, it’s hard to find any humor in yuletide burglaries. Take these extra precautions, and enjoy a little extra peace of mind this holiday season.

If you need further information on selecting and installing a new home security system, the New York Times,securitychoice.com and howstuffworks.com all have good advice for homeowners.