If you’re considering a home security system by ADT, it’s important to understand what happens in the event of a serious issue. When a fire, break-in, or other emergency occurs, an alarm will sound. ADT has specific protocols combined with varying sounds for different emergencies. But what does the alarm sound like and how long does it sound?

All ADT home security system alarms will sound off the entire time until it’s turned off or someone cuts the power. This is true for every type of alarm. It’s a very loud siren effective at deterring intruders, detecting fires, and other emergencies.

What is the Alarm Process?

When an emergency is in progress, the system runs a check to ensure the threat is real and imminent. Then, it sounds like an alarm that notifies a representative at a central station in your area.

The representative then contacts you to confirm your safety in addition to any help you need.

How long does it take for the Alarm to Sound?

It’s imperative to understand there’s 30 seconds to three minutes before the alarm turns on. This is because of the initial check to ensure there’s a real danger present.

Are there different sounds for varying threats?

Different emergencies can trigger an ADT alarm with variations in the alarm’s sound.

How they sound is crucial to recognize? If it’s set off on accident, it’s useful to know the sound of each alarm type.

Some models offer voice message alarms for the interior notifications.

The exterior alarms are always loud and blaring.

The following is a list of the most common emergencies with their accompanying sound.

Away from Home

Any problem detected by the ADT system will notify you via a smart phone app. It will tell you what part of the house the problem originated from along with a personal safety check.

An alarm will only sound if the threat is real. When it does, it’s a low-level sounding siren.

Burglary/Home Invasion

The alarm and panic button featured for burglars and home invasions stays on until it’s turned off or someone cuts the power.

It detects the area or region broken into. Once ADT confirms the danger, the loud, intermittent siren blares indefinitely.


When a fire is underway, a pulsing siren stays on the entire time. It’s loud and steady until you shut it down.

You’ll receive a notification from ADT letting you know which smoke detector set off the alarm and if the fire is real.

Other Emergencies

Other emergency alarms are individual and customized through ADT. They do not include things like carbon monoxide detection in their standard alarms.

You can get voice message alarms or have the sound for auxiliary alarms with a low-level sounding siren.

Are Authorities Called in First?

There’s a small gap of time between the moment an emergency arises and when the alarm sounds.

So, it may be difficult to understand why authorities aren’t notified right away.

Even though it may seem like a logical step in the process, you are first contacted by ADT.

Legal Mandates

Simply put, it’s illegal to call authorities before you know about an emergency with your property.

The law mandates that security companies first contact you in the event of an emergency before calling in law enforcement, the fire department, or other emergency services.

Accidental Trips

So, it’s only smart to ensure a threat actually exists before calling for back up. Not everything goes as expected with a home security system and it will sometimes pick up a false emergency.

There may be times when your dog or other animal trips the alarm.

It can also go off if you live near a train or earthquake-prone area.  Ensuring you need help before calling in authorities is basic common sense. Besides, it’s illegal to do so.

What happens after ADT confirms my safety?

Once ADT confirms your safety, the system must be shutdown. Refer to your instructions from ADT about how to shutdown the system.

Contact a representative for help with troubleshooting or any other issues you may experience in trying to turn it off.


Understanding how your ADT alarm system works, along with how long it sounds off, will be the keys to your safety, security and sanity.

Different types of emergencies will trigger a different sound along with a different method to turn it off.

Knowing how everything works will give you peace of mind, even in the event of a threat or impending danger.

Remember, it will take 30 seconds to three minutes before any alarms or notifications go off to ensure the danger is real. So, you have to speak to an ADT representative about the danger before any authorities arrive to help.

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