Access Control System Troubleshooting: Common Issues and Solutions

Access Control System Troubleshooting: Common Issues and Solutions
Access Control System Troubleshooting: Common Issues and Solutions

An access control system is a critical component of any facility’s security infrastructure. However, like any complex technology, access control systems can develop issues that compromise their effectiveness. In this blog post, we’ll explore the most common access control problems and provide actionable solutions to get your system back on track.

The Perils of Outdated Equipment

Outdated access control equipment is a ticking time bomb for your organization’s security. Legacy systems lack the capabilities to keep up with today’s threats. Consider these risks:

  • Vulnerabilities: Old equipment likely has unpatched security flaws that hackers can exploit.
  • Incompatibility: Trying to integrate new access control features with outdated tech can e challenging or impossible.
  • Operational Issues: Parts for repairs may be unavailable. Technical support is limited or nonexistent.

As of the 2021 State of Physical Access Control Report, mobile access and apps were identified as top trends shaping the industry. To reap these benefits, upgrading aging infrastructure is essential.

The Dangers of Key Cards Falling into the Wrong Hands

Keycards have inherent weaknesses that make them high-risk. For example, a disgruntled ex-employee could copy a keycard kept as a spare and access the facility after termination. To mitigate this critical vulnerability:

  • Establish a mandatory card return protocol: Keycards should be returned and immediately deactivated when employees leave the company or change roles. Relying on people to voluntarily return cards is risky.
  • Consider more secure alternatives like biometric systems: Fingerprints, facial recognition, or iris scans validate the cardholder’s identity better than keycards alone. While more expensive, biometrics provide superior security, especially for sensitive areas.
  • Integrate with structured cabling systems: Ensuring your access control system is properly networked with your facility’s structured cabling systems Pompano Beach enhances reliability and allows centralized monitoring.

The Pitfalls of Incorrect Setup

According to Security Magazine, over 90% of access control systems contain outdated data or incorrect configurations due to improper setup.

Some consequences include:

  • Wrong access levels: Doors may be inaccurately configured to grant access to the wrong badge holders, creating security gaps. For example, a janitor may be able to access an HR records room due to a system misconfiguration.
  • System glitches: Incorrectly networked components often lead to system malfunctions, degraded performance, and denial of access errors for authorized users.
  • Non-compliance: Failing to properly log access attempts and configure doors according to regulations can lead to heavy fines. For example, not logging entry into medicine storage areas in healthcare facilities is an FDA compliance violation.

Follow best practices right from system design through implementation to avoid setup issues:

  • Consult experts: Work with experienced integrators to design the system architecture and components.
  • Test thoroughly: Take time to test all access points after installation to identify and resolve errors.
  • Audit regularly: Perform routine system audits to check for incorrect access levels.

The Importance of Integration with Other Building Systems

Integrating your access control system with other building technologies enhances security while also driving operational efficiency and cost savings. Some benefits include:

  • Energy savings: Integrate access control with the HVAC system. Access logs help optimize heating and cooling to only occupied areas. Studies show 20-45% potential energy savings from proper integration.
  • Increased safety: Connect the access control system with fire alarm and suppression systems for swift, automated lockdown of specific areas during emergencies. This localized control prevents site-wide disruption.
  • Improved convenience: Interface the access control system with elevators to allow seamless access to authorized floors using your access credential. This eliminates inconvenient security stops.

According to one survey by Tradeline, over 70% of respondents reported noticeable productivity improvements after upgrading to an integrated building management system.

Advanced Troubleshooting Techniques

When issues arise, specialized diagnostic tools and software can facilitate rapid troubleshooting and resolutions:

  • Central monitoring software: Look for systems that allow administrators to remotely monitor events and credential use in real-time. For example, identify doors where access is denied unexpectedly or logins are occurring at odd hours.
  • Detailed activity logs: Comprehensive logs allow deep analysis of access trends to pinpoint issues. Look for anomalies like doors granting access during unauthorized times or inactive users suddenly becoming active.
  • Testing tools: Diagnostic kits can systematically audit the functionality of all system components. For example, test card reader unlocks time, door forced open/closed alerts, battery levels, and other parameters.
  • System diagnostics: Many access controllers provide built-in tools to check component status, communication links, memory usage, and other metrics to isolate problems.
  • Backup support: Leverage technical support from your access control vendor which can remotely log in to diagnose and resolve complex issues quickly.

Proactively utilizing data-driven insights from these tools can optimize system uptime and performance. For the most critical facilities, engage dedicated professional support services to monitor and manage your access control infrastructure. The upfront investment pays dividends through swift issue resolution and peace of mind.

Future-Proofing Your Access Control System

To ensure your investment remains secure into the future, consider adopting AI and biometric technology:

  • Facial recognition: This technology validates identity in real-time by scanning facial features using advanced computer vision algorithms. It eliminates reliance on easily lost access cards.
  • Behavioral analysis: AI-powered systems can learn user access patterns and detect out-of-the-ordinary activity that could indicate a security breach. Machine learning allows continuous improvement in accuracy.
  • Touchless access: Options like mobile credentials stored on smartphones or wearables remove the need for cards altogether. This enhances both security and convenience while future-proofing the system. According to one survey, 80% of businesses are considering touchless access.

Choosing flexible systems and software platforms designed for easy upgrading allows seamless adoption of innovations as they emerge, without needing to replace your core system.


What are the most secure alternatives to keycard systems?

Biometric systems like fingerprints and facial recognition provide superior security by validating user identity. Mobile access via smartphones is also increasingly popular.

How often should an organization update its access control system?

Aim to keep your core controller/panel hardware current and replace peripheral components like readers when they become obsolete or unreliable. Budget for a full system refresh every 8-10 years.

What are the best practices for integrating access control systems?

Start by identifying your other building management systems and determining what data integrations are possible and beneficial. Work with experienced vendors and integrators to ensure components are seamlessly interfaced.


Outdated technology, mismanagement of credentials, improper setup, and lack of integration are common access control challenges. Addressing these requires constant vigilance and a proactive approach to troubleshooting and upgrading. A robust access control system is a long-term investment in seamless security and efficiency. Careful maintenance today will reap big rewards tomorrow.

Call to Action: Schedule a consultation with our access control experts to evaluate your current system. We’ll provide cost-effective solutions to enhance your security posture.

Key Takeaways:

  • Outdated equipment creates dangerous vulnerabilities like unpatched security flaws and lack of support.
  • Keycards can easily fall into the wrong hands through theft, cloning, or sharing between employees.
  • Incorrect system setup leads to issues like wrong access levels and non-compliance.
  • Integration with other building systems improves security, efficiency, and productivity.
  • Advanced troubleshooting techniques involve specialized diagnostic tools and software.
  • Future-proof your investment by implementing technologies like AI, biometrics, and mobile access.