How do smart water leak sensors work?
Smart water leak sensors work a few different ways, depending upon the specific device. Some monitor the amount of water flowing through a pipe with a small mechanical turbine or ultrasonic wavelengths. Others may detect ambient temperature to prevent pipes from freezing. Some may be straightforward and simply watch for the presence of moisture under sinks or on bathroom and laundry room floors.
Regardless of what type of sensor you use, all smart water leak detectors have one thing in common — they can prevent upwards of $10,000 worth of water damage to your home.
What is a water leak detector?
Water leak detection systems may include multiple different components installed throughout your home, which monitor water flow through your pipes. There are lots of brands to choose from, with some being more intelligent than others.
There are four different components you can include in your home’s water leak detection system.
- Smart Leak Detector – Leak detection devices are usually straightforward, easy-to-install devices whose jobs are simply to detect the presence of moisture. They can send alerts directly to your smartphone, and some have an audible alarm for anyone physically in the home. They are best suited for leak susceptible areas, such as under sinks and on bathroom and laundry room floors.
- Smart Water Monitor – The monitors are a little more sophisticated than the leak detectors. They are usually connected to a pipe and track water flow throughout your home with a small mechanical rotor or ultrasonic technology. They can detect an abnormal decrease or increase in water usage and alert you in either case.
- Smart Water Shut-off Valves – Smart shut-off valves can be paired with both smart water monitors and detectors. This means if there is abnormal moisture detected or increased water flow through pipes, the valves can close and prevent any more water from entering your home. You can also activate shut-off valves remotely from your smartphone.
- Freeze Sensors – These devices monitor the temperatures in your home and alert you when the temperature begins to approach freezing. Some, but not all, smart leak detectors and monitors may include freeze sensors. These sensors are best placed in freeze-susceptible areas, such as unfinished basements.
For any smart water leak components you install, there are some things you want to look for, including:
- Alerts are sent directly to your phone.
- Disconnection alerts are sent when the leak detection device is disconnected from Wi-Fi or powers down.
- Extensive Wi-Fi range to ensure the device will work and notify you properly.
- Audible alarm notifying anyone who may be in the house when a leak is detected.
- Programmable settings which can be customized based on your household and water usage patterns.
- Battery or outlet-powered devices are both available for purchase. Neither is better than the other, but outlet-powered devices are limited in where they can be placed.
Do I need a water leak sensor?
Let’s frame it like this. Many people are afraid of things like fire, lightning, and burglary and take a lot of preventative measures to minimize damage caused by these things. These preventive measures often include advanced alarm systems.
In contrast, water damage is the second most common type of homeowners insurance claim, with average costs of around $10,900. Plumbing is more likely to damage your home than fire, lightning, and burglary. However, very few people have water leak alarms and alerts in place.
Water leak detection devices can prevent significant water damage from occurring by catching leaks early. Water damage generally begins quietly and can go unnoticed for days, even weeks. It can lead to mildew, mold, and even structural damage.
So, while smart home water leak detectors aren’t required by law, they are an inexpensive way to minimize risk.
How to avoid water damage in your home
Fortunately, there are many easy ways to avoid water damage without purchasing smart home water leak detectors.
Outside, things you can do to prevent water damage include:
- Disconnecting hoses in the fall to prevent standing water from freezing.
- Clean all gutters and downspouts to minimize any water overflow that may leak and damage your roof or foundation.
- Aim downspouts away from your home to keep your house’s foundation structurally sound.
- Maintain foliage and vegetation so it doesn’t interfere with any piping.
- Check sprinklers and irrigation frequently to prevent burst pipes and localized flooding.
There are also preventive measures you can take inside your home to minimize water damage, such as:
- Know your water main so you can turn it off in case of emergency or if your home will be empty for an extended time.
- Keep appliances maintained by replacing water hoses every five years, especially on washing machines and fridges, as they are prone to leaking.
- Promptly investigate and fix any leaks you find instead of leaving them or assuming the issue will resolve itself.
- Know your water pressure. Your home’s water system is designed for water pressure of 40 to 70 psi. If it is anywhere above 100 psi, consider purchasing and installing a pressure regulator.
- Watch your water bill. If you see any abnormally high totals, you may have a leak somewhere.
- Maintain waterproof seals in areas susceptible to water damage. These areas include spots like showers, windows, and basements.
Does home insurance cover water damage?
Homeowners insurance may cover water damage, but it depends on how the damage happened. If it was sudden, accidental, and internal, then it will be covered. However, if the damage occurred because you did not properly maintain appliances or plumbing, the damage is not covered.
Read more about what water damage may or may not be covered by your home insurance policy.