Home Tech: Automated Water Leak Detection
Sooner or later, no matter where you live or how old your house is, you're going to have a plumbing failure. And whether the water leak is big or small, the key is to catch it before it causes catastrophic damage to your home. Think we're being alarmist? Damage caused by plumbing failures costs homeowners and insurance companies billions of dollars every year. Here are some high-tech solutions that will alert you when a leak is just getting started so you can deal with it ASAP.
High-Tech Leak Alerts
A step up from simple leak alarms is a leak detector that sends you alerts via the Internet. The system shown here is made by Insteon. It consists of a hub that you connect to your home's Internet modem. Wireless leak sensors, available as accessories, run on batteries and send radio signals to the Insteon hub whenever a leak is detected. The hub then sends an alert to your smartphone or computer. Additional 'smart home' type accessories are available for use with the hub and are sold separately. While this is a great leak detection system, you'll still have to run home (or call somebody with access to your house) to shut off the water if a leak occurs. Available online from the manufacturer.
Single-Point Shutoff Systems
- Sounds alarm and shuts off water supply when leak is detected.
- Accessory available that cuts off electricity to power vents on gas-fired water heaters.
- Can be connected to a home alarm system.
- Available online.
- Sensor placed on floor; water supply shuts off if leak is detected.
- Shutoffs take pressure off hoses when washing machine not in use.
- Available online.
Sometimes Low-Tech is the Best Tech
A great way to prevent leaks and floods is to regularly do a visual check of your plumbing system. Inspect pipes, fittings, supply hoses, shutoff valves and all water-using appliances for signs of corrosion or leaking. Fix small problems before they become big ones. And if you're going out of town for an extended period of time, shut off the water main (or well pump).
Whole-House Shutoff Systems
For the ultimate in water leak detection and flood prevention, consider a whole-house automatic shutoff system like this one. Wireless sensors placed around the house tell it when there's a leak or if a pipe has frozen, and a motorized valve shuts off water to the house. The WaterCop has been around for a few years, but the company now offers a Wi-Fi module that sends alerts to your smartphone or computer when there's a problem. A complete system consists of leak and freeze sensors, a Wi-Fi module and automatic shutoff valve. Depending on your DIY skills, you might need to hire a plumber to install it on your home's water main.