ADEMCO Vista-15PSIA

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Old 03-03-10, 09:17 PM
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Unhappy ADEMCO Vista-15PSIA

I have an ADEMCO Vista-15 PSIA. I bought my house new two years ago and the system was already installed and working. Now, the system has pretty much become worthless to me. I cannot set the alarm without having to bypass most of the zones. I have the "chime" turned on but it has stopped chiming when certain doors or windows are opened but still chimes when other areas are opened; I'm guessing this is a sensor issue but I don't know how to correct it. When I first turned the chime on the system would chime only once when an area was opened. Now, the system chimes when the backdoor is opened and again when it is closed; when I open a window in the same zone as the backdoor the system chimes twice as if two areas where opened at the same time. I would really like to be able to use my system, PLEASE HELP ME!
 
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Old 03-03-10, 10:52 PM
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Ctutor99, when you say, "I cannot set the alarm without having to bypass most of the zones", do you have to bypass those zones to get the ready light? Or is it because you have false alarms if you arm it with those zones unbypassed?

Okay, it sound like you're having multiple fault problems in most or all of your zones. That smells suspiciously like a substandard installation. You _are_ aware that pressing the[*] key while it's disarmed shows you which zones are faulted, right? If you open a door or window in a zone that's _already_ faulted, the zone won't chime.

I have a couple of suspicions here: (1)Poorly spaced or oriented door/window switches (DW's), and/or (2) poor splices at the DW's. Also look at the zone loops in your control box. Are the End of Line(EOL) resistors in the control and are they soldered to the loop wires? (If you don't understand the question, let me know.)

Do you have any wireless zones?

Other techs may chime in (so to speak) with other guesses. Question: Are all the flakey zones perimeter zones (doors and windows?)

The bad news is, it sounds like just about every door and window switch (aka sensor, aka contact) is suspect. I'd guess the switches themselves are not faulty but the way they're placed may be--or possibly the wrong switchs for the application in some instances. More bad news, it's probably going to be a lot of work fixing them.


The good news is that they probably aren't that hard to fix, once you locate the problem children. It's just that it sounds like a _lot_ of problem children. The first few will be enough to handle the learning curve, the rest will be routine. That is, if my guessing is right.

But I'm still guessing here until I can get some more information.
(1)What zones are faulted when they shouldn't be? Specifically, what are on the zones? (You don't have to describe your house to me; just something like "2windows and a door on zone X", etc.)
If I'm right about the perimeter (doors and windows) being the problem zones:
(2) Can you descibe the various switches on your doors and windows? Do some of them look like buttons with a cyllindrical plunger, or ball or wheel plunger that the door/window pushes in when it closes? Are the door switches on the knob side or the hinge side of the doors? Are the switches surface-mounted and visible, or just show up as small plastic circles (recessed) in the frame, with a magnet that's brought close to the switch when the door/window closes. (use a nail file or penknife blade or something to test for the magnet if you're in doubt).

If you have recessed switches, can you pull one or a few out to look at the lead-in wire splices, if any. Carefull! Some splice connectors make extracting splices difficult. Don't force anything if it doesn't want to come! If you can get a few splices (if any) out, how are they connected? If they're just twisted with no crimp-on connectors or solder, that's at least part of your problem.


Before I do any more guessing, post back with more information. Then we can tackle it one step at a time.

EDIT: About that back door--when it's closed, is the zone it's on still faulted? I'm particularly interested in what kind of switch it has. I'm guessing a recessed magnetic switch badly misaligned. Can you see if there are two circles showing, one in the frame and one in the door; but they don't line up directly when the door is closed anymore. Instead, they line so the magnet (in the door) passes by the switch (in the frame) when it''s opened?
Sorry, habit. I can't resist guessing on too little information.
 
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Old 03-04-10, 05:30 AM
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Thanks for the info. I know I have the recessed magnet contacts you were asking about, as far as the other things I will look when I get home this afternoon and post back with more info and maybe some pics. Thanks again!
 
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Old 03-04-10, 12:10 PM
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Here's an afterthoght: Most recessed switches come in two diameters: 3/8 inch and 3/4 inch. Very approximately the diameter of a bic pen and the diameter of a thin cigar. They're really the same thing in different casings.

If your switches are the thinner variety, you may have trouble extracting them without damaging either the switch or the wood they're in. If that's the case, wait until you've checked the orientation and alignment first. You said you have recessed magnetic switches, but not all switches need be the same. Look at all your openings to see if there are any plunger-type switches. Also mention it if there is a metal door/frame involved: Those take more careful attention in spacing and alignment.
 
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Old 03-04-10, 06:30 PM
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Ok, I tried to put some pics on here for you, but I couldn't figure it out.

Anyway, I have to bypass the zones because the ready light is not on. I have three zones that are showing faulted: Z3 has 2 windows and a door, Z4 has 5 windows and a door, Z5 has 2 windows and a door (back door is on this zone). The other zones that are not faulted are: Z1 Smoke Detectors, Z2 Delay, Z6 Motion Detector. As far as I can tell I have no wireless components.

I'm not exactly sure what the EOLR's look like, but I will explain my control box to you. There are several wires (obviously) that come into the control box. A red wire, a yellow wire (there are several yellow wires), and a black wire are connected directly to the circuit board. Also connected to the circuit board are these "pieces" that have a solid metal wire on each end with a small brown bulb in the center. The other end of these pieces are connected to a round red plastic piece. These red pieces also have a green wire connected to them (I'm guessing this may be a splice or crimp).Some of these red pieces have a green and yellow wire connected to them.

I was able to get one of the senors out of the window frame; all it had was two white wires coming from the end of it. All of the contacts in every door and window are the same. All of my door frames are wood and the contacts are located at the top of every door. I have two doors that are metal and one that is wood. When I look at the alignment of the contacts it looks like they are in good alignment. Yes, the back door is still showing faulted when the door is closed.

I hope this information is helpful to you, sorry I don't know all the components and technical terms.
 
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Old 03-04-10, 08:27 PM
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I want to clarify a few things from my last post, because it looks confusing. There is more than one red and one black wire coming into the control panel. Also, all the wires coming into the control panel start in the white casing and are stripped close to the circuit board to reveal two wires inside the casing. When I said the wires are connected directly to the circuit board, I meant they are connected to the screw connectors that are on the circuit board

One more thing, could there possibly be a programming issue? As you said:
Originally Posted by ChosunOne
If you open a door or window in a zone that's _already_ faulted, the zone won't chime.
The back door and every window that is in Z5 (a faulted zone) still chime when opened.
 
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Old 03-04-10, 09:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Ctutor99 View Post

Also connected to the circuit board are these "pieces" that have a solid metal wire on each end with a small brown bulb in the center. The other end of these pieces are connected to a round red plastic piece. These red pieces also have a green wire connected to them (I'm guessing this may be a splice or crimp).
If the small brown bulbs have four colored stripes on them--red, black, brown and gold--then they're the 2000 Ohm End-of-Line Resistors (EOLR's). And yes, it sounds like crimp connectors were used, so assuming they were crimped properly, they aren't part of the problem.

Originally Posted by Ctutor99 View Post
I was able to get one of the senors out of the window frame; all it had was two white wires coming from the end of it.
Good, those white wires are the leads (pronounced like "lead the troops, not like the heavy metal) of the sensor, and they connect to the loop wires down in the hole somewhere, at two splices. See if you can coax the wires out farther and check the splices. If they hang up, a narrow straw or chopstick, something to poke with, may help. But DON'T force it. If you just can't get it out, leave it for now until we've checked other stuff. Tuck the sensor back into its hole loosely so you can pull it out later if you need to. How thick is it where it fits into its hole, 3/8" or 3/4" (bic-size or cigar)?


Originally Posted by Ctutor99 View Post
All of the contacts in every door and window are the same. All of my door frames are wood and the contacts are located at the top of every door. I have two doors that are metal and one that is wood. When I look at the alignment of the contacts it looks like they are in good alignment.
You didn't mention any plunger-type, so I take it there are no visible moving parts, just sensor-magnet pairs opposite each other, the size of the one you pulled out. Good.
If you have double-hung windows, the sensors are usually in the bottom frame and the magnets opposite them, above in the sash.

You won't be able to see their alignment when closed. So use a small nail or anything steel that hangs straight down from the magnet in the sash. Hang it from the magnet and bring the window down slowly to see if the nail points right to the center of the circular end of the sensor that shows. If it's even a little off, then either the window shifted or the installer was...well, anyway, it could be one of the problems.
If your windows aren't double-hung, post back and describe what they are.



Originally Posted by Ctutor99 View Post
Z5 has 2 windows and a door (back door is on this zone).
Yes, the back door is still showing faulted when the door is closed.
Good, that gives us a starting point: Zone 5.
If the back door is chiming when you use it, that means the the two window sensors are closed properly. Find yourself some bar magnets, the stronger the better. Ideal would be magnets the same size and shape as you have installed, but any reasonably strong bar magnet will do.

While you're working with zone 5, bypass the other flakey zones so you can have a green ready light when zone 5 sets. Set the system to Chime.

Look at the back door and measure the distance between the center of the circular sensor end that's showing in the frame, and the inner edge of the door. You don't need a tape measure; you can mark it on anything, a match or a 3x5 card, anything. Call it distance n.

Now begin to close the door until the circular end of the magnet in the door is at the edge, dead center: The inner edge of the door should eclipse half the magnet's exposed circle. Then use whatever you marked distance n with to move the door exactly that distance closer to being closed.

That should align the door magnet exactly with the frame sensor (unless the magnet is too high or low--but I'm guessing not). If you can wedge the door firmly in place at that point, check to see that you have a green ready light. Again, I'm guessing you will. I'm also guessing from what you described earlier that the door still has some distance to travel before it's completely closed. Go ahead and close it and see if that causes it to chime--because the magnet passes beyond the "make" zone of the sensor.

If you managed to get the extra magnets already, play with one at the door sensor. Experiment and try to duplicate how the door magnet should pass in front and line up with the sensor. The chime will let you know when the "make" (activation) is lost, and you can get a feel for what the sensor needs as far as orientation and spacing.

I know it must be hard to follow lengthy verbal directions, since I'm kind of working blind myself; but if you can manage it, post back and let us know how it went. If I managed to guess right, we can go to the fix. If not, well, we'll learn something and go from there.
 
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Old 03-04-10, 09:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Ctutor99 View Post
One more thing, could there possibly be a programming issue? As you said: The back door and every window that is in Z5 (a faulted zone) still chime when opened.
Okay, quick response to this. Terminology check: A _faulted_ is a zone with something "Open". That could be a door, window, or a bad splice. "Faulted" doesn't necessarily mean "faulty", it just means something's open. If you close or bypass everything else, does zone 5 give you a green ready light? If it does, it isn't faulted.

With the other questionable zones bypassed and nobody moving near the motion sensor and everything closed, do you have a green ready light?

Edit: I should have mentioned pressing * to see what's faulted if there's no ready light. If zone 5 is faulted and the windows and door listed on that zone still chime when opened, then there may be mis-identified zones.
 
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Old 03-04-10, 09:23 PM
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Well, I figured out the picture thing, but it looks like you have figured everything out without them; MAN YOUR GOOD!! I decided to go ahead and post them anyway just in case they are useful.





















This is the alignment of the sensor on the back door. I know the picture isn't great, but maybe it will help.




Window Sensor



 
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Old 03-04-10, 09:31 PM
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Originally Posted by ChosunOne
I should have mentioned pressing * to see what's faulted if there's no ready light. If zone 5 is faulted and the windows and door listed on that zone still chime when opened, then there may be mis-identified zones.
Yes, I did press * to see the faulted zones, and zone 5 is showing faulted with everything closed but still chiming when something is opened.
 
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Old 03-04-10, 10:02 PM
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Well, the pictures were good for catching me being careless. I wasn't careful about thinking out my resistor color coding: the colors, as you see, are red-black-red-gold. As many years as I've known color-coding, that's embarrassing.

Two of those resistors in your C/P pictures make me nervous. The metal wires at each end of the resistor ("leads") are part of the zone loop. Two of them look like they're ready to touch, or are touching, in the pix. Make sure they're separated far enough that they can't do that (touch). It's possible that may be causing a problem on two zones. (we should be so lucky)

Those solderless connectors are not crimp-types after all, but are good connectors. Probably not a problem.

Interesting: Your window sensor model # ends with "WG" = Wide Gap. you should have extra margin for alignment & spacing.

Okay, about zone 5: Bypass everything except zones 5, 6 and 1. That way, only zone 5 can chime. Does zone 5 still show "FAULT 05" when you press *? And do the windows and doors still chime when you open them?

Earlier you said the back door chimed when you opened it, and then again when you closed it. That's what a lot of my "guessing" was based on. Is it still doing that?

And btw I just realized I didn't answer your earlier question: No, I don't think there's a programming issue. These panels aren't prone to spontaneously reprogramming themselves. You haven't been into the programming, have you?
 
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Old 03-05-10, 05:50 PM
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Ok, I think I have found the problem. I knew that the windows had to have a magnet to go with the sensor, but I never could find them. When you gave me the following information:

"If you have double-hung windows, the sensors are usually in the bottom frame and the magnets opposite them, above in the sash."

I started checking every one of my windows for magnets. Guess what I found..... three of my windows are missing magnets. I felt so VERY STUPID! So, these three windows are all in zone three and I'm pretty sure that's going to be the problem with zone three. However, zone 4 has magnets in every window and door and still isn't working, but some of the magnets in the windows don't line up directly with the sensor. Do these magnets have to line up directly with the sensor?

By the way, zone 5 is no longer showing faulted. I don't know if pulling the sensor out of the window and putting it back in had something to do with that or not, but it is working correctly now.

Thank you very much for all of your help ChosunOne, even though this turned out to be a simple problem your expertise has taught me a lot about my system. THANKS AGAIN!!!
 
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Old 03-05-10, 06:18 PM
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One other problem I forgot to mention. Sometimes the system will chime without anything being opened. It actually did it right after my last post, when I went to the keypad to try to find what was going on I found that Z4 was no longer showing faulted. The system actually chimed twice, the chimes were about 15 secs apart. It does this about once or twice a week. When I was checking my window magnets, Z4 had several that did not line up with senor. Could this be causing this unexpected chime?
 
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Old 03-06-10, 10:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Ctutor99 View Post
One other problem I forgot to mention. Sometimes the system will chime without anything being opened. It actually did it right after my last post, when I went to the keypad to try to find what was going on I found that Z4 was no longer showing faulted. The system actually chimed twice, the chimes were about 15 secs apart. It does this about once or twice a week. When I was checking my window magnets, Z4 had several that did not line up with senor. Could this be causing this unexpected chime?
Yes, it's probable that it is causing it. Those chimes will be false alarms if you arm the system with sensors that are that marginal in their make-and-break.
The simple solution is to get some 3/8" magnets, same size that are there now, and install them _beside_ the existing magnets that are a smidgen off, keeping the new magnet as close to the alignment of the sensor as you can. This usually gives you a great make&break margin, highly false-alarm resistant. Hopefully you have a drill and a 3/8" wood/metal bit. If the magnets fall out, I usually wrap a layer or two of electrical tape around them until they fit snugly.

IMPORTANT: Match polarities of side-by-side magnets if you do this! Hold the new magnet to the old so that it pushes rather than pulls. That end is the one that should be showing when it's installed. Just to be clear, once the new one is installed, a 3rd magnet should react the same (push or pull) to both magnet ends showing.

BTW, good job on finding your problems. You have no cause to feel stupid. Most people don't check the underside of their window sashes. The only reason I do is that I did this 40+ hours a week for a few decades.
 
 

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