Water Leak Detectors & How They Save Your Home
No matter how old or new your house is or how well it is built, there is eventually going to come a time when the plumbing fails. When this happens, it is of the utmost importance that you catch the leak early, even if it is only a small leak, because leaks of all sizes can, and do cause immense damage to property when they are left untreated.
Think we’re exaggerating? Water damage caused by plumbing failures cost approximately $14 billion each and every year. If you’re lucky, the insurance company will pay for your personal loses, but if not, poor plumbing could set you back thousands of dollars when it strikes. Not only that, but leaks cause a huge amount of water loss, which is bad for the environment and your home water bills.
Want to avoid the time and expense it takes to fix longstanding leaks? You need to invest in an automated water leak detection solution. Here are just some of the options available to you:
If you’re looking for an affordable whole-home leak detection system, your best bet is to buy a few battery-powered leak alarms, which you can find at most hardware stores and home centers. These are very easy to use – you simply place the sensors on the ground near any pipes and plumbing fixtures, such as drains, heaters and, of course, washing machines, and leave them there to monitor the situation. As soon as even a small amount of water is detected by them, the water leak alarms will begin to admit an extremely loud and piercing sound that will undoubtedly attract your attention.
If you decide to use water leak alarms as your primary source of home leak detection, it’s a good idea to place at least one on your basement floor -if you have one – so that it can alert you if any water leaks in from the exterior of the home during storms or flooding, and also so that you get an early warning if your sump pump goes out. Not all flooding issues are caused by leaking pipes so we want to focus on all areas of the home that could be potential entry points for water to leak through.
Water leak alarms work great, but they will only help you to save your home if you’re in your there when they go off. If you’re out, you obviously won’t hear the alarm, and if it’s a big leak, a whole lot of damage could be done before you turn off the water and call the plumber. They’ll also only work if the batteries are working, so you’ll need to make it a regular part of your home maintenance schedule to check and replace the batteries regularly.
Internet-Connected Leak Alarms
The next level up from the plain battery-operated leak alarms is the leak detector that can connect to the internet. These alarms can wirelessly send information to you via your home internet modem so that even if you aren’t home, you can be instantly alerted to any leaks and quickly act to get home and turn the water off before disaster strikes.
This kind of house water leak detection device sends radio signals to its hub whenever water is detected. The hub will them immediately send you an alert via your computer or smartphone, many of these hi-tech solutions come with a range of optional smart accessories that you can use to build your own DIY water leak detector system, although accessories are sold separately and can be quite expensive.
The only con to using these kinds of automated water leak detection systems is that even though you may get an immediate warning, you may not be immediately available to act on them, and depending on where you are and how quickly you can get home, or have someone else enter your home and shut off the water, you could still be looking at trouble.
Currently, Insteon is one of the biggest and best manufacturers of internet-connected water leak detection alarms. You can find them online.
Single-Point Shutoff Systems
One step better than even internet-enabled leak detection systems are single-point shutoff systems. These kinds of systems are ideal for those of you who spend a lot of time away from home, and who may not be able to get back quickly when a leak happens.
These leak detectors are plugged into the main electrical, rather than running on batteries, so you never have to worry about them stopping working because they’re out of juice. Single-point shutoff systems use a sensor that is placed on the floor, but which is held inside an appliance pan, to detect water. When a leak is detected, a shutoff valve turns the supply off so that your appliances, such as dishwashers and washing machines, cannot keep pumping out water.
This kind of system is especially good for using large household appliances that are kept above the basement level, because things like washing machines can leak a large volume of water and if that is seeping through a ceiling or floor, it can cause a lot of water damage really quickly.
A good example of single-point shutoff systems is the WaterCop Leak Stop. It is a really good piece of equipment, which not only sounds an alarm whenever it detects the presence of water but also shuts off the water valve immediately too. You even have the option of buying an add-on accessory that will cut out electricity to power vents on water heaters that are gas-fired, for an extra level of home protection that will help to keep your family and your property truly safe.
Another good example is the Watts Intelliflow Automatic Washing Machine Shutoff Valve, which immediately closes down the water supply when it detects a leak, via sensors that are placed on the floor, and which removes pressure from the washing machine’s hose when it is not being used, so that leaks and flooding is less likely.
Whole-Home Shutoff Systems
Whole-Home shutoff-systems are the gold standard of water leak detection systems. If you want to have total peace of mind, you should consider buying one of these systems which typically use a series of wireless sensors to monitor your home’s plumbing situation. Unlike the other systems we have discusses, whole-house shutoff systems will tell you when a pipe has frozen, as well as alerting you to any leaks that you may have. It will then use a motorized valve to shut off every source of water coming into your home, apart from those caused by natural forces like rain and flood water, of course.
One of the most popular whole-house shutoff systems is FloLogic which has Wi-FI capabilities, so you can receive alerts wherever you are whenever there is a problem. Although this system is fantastic, you do need to bear in mind that, unless you have excellent DIY skills, you may need to call in a professional plumber to ensure that the valve is fitted correctly. If you get it wrong, leaks may not be prevented and you may not realize anything is wrong until it’s too late.
Make Your Own Detector
If you don’t want to buy an expensive automated water leak detection system, you may want to make your own. There are numerous online tutorials, like this one, that will tell you exactly how to make a water leak detector. You will need to have some basic programming skills or know someone else who does, but other than that, all you’ll need is a circuit board, water sensor, and Phidget Cable to create a working sensor.
If you decide to go down the DIY route, it should go without saying that you will need to fully test your homemade sensor before you put all of your faith in it. The sensors you buy will have been fully tested and in good working order before they are sold to you, but something you have made yourself may or may not work as well. Luckily, seeing if your DIY water sensor works is as easy as exposing it to a drop or two of water, so it should be a simple enough thing to do.
The Low-Tech Option
If you’re looking for a low-cost, low-tech solution for detecting water leaks within your home, look no further than yourself. Although it is by no means fool-proof, and certainly not as good a method as those mentioned above, an excellent way to help prevent floods and leaks in your home is to inspect your plumbing on a regular basis. Perform visual checks of your piping, plumbing fittings supply hoses and any shutoff valves in your home looking for signs of corrosion, cracks, and leaks. If you find any problems, deal with them immediately and call in professional plumbers if you aren’t sure whether you can handle the problem yourself.
When you go away on vacation, for example, you should always shut off your water or well pump, too as that will minimize the chances of a flood happening that you cannot deal with as soon as possible.
Buy Enough Alarms
It is really important, at this point, to note that you need to buy enough automated water leaks detection alarms to cover your own home. Having one in the basement will be all well and good if the washing machine down their leaks, but it won’t help you if the dishwasher up in the kitchen breaks down or the bath springs a leak. At the very least, you should have one alarm underneath any area of pipework. That might mean that you need to have more than one alarm in each room. You might think that sounds like an expensive, but think about it – the cost of a few water detection alarms is going to be a lot less than the cost of repairing serious flood damage if you don’t detect those leaks fast enough. Water leak alarms are a definite example of prevention being better than cure, and pretty much any plumber will tell you that having these alarms is worthwhile and could save you a lot of heartache down the line.
What to Do if Water is Detected
If whichever water leak detection system you’re using does alert you to the presence of water, the first thing you should do is shut off the water at the mains. It may well be the case that they have picked up a fairly minor leak that can be fixed by you in no time at all, but it’s better to be safe than sorry while you’re looking for the leak.
Once the water has been turned off, you’ll want to work out which alarm is sounding, so that you can narrow down the search for your leak. Most leaks are easy to detect – you just follow the path of the water, but since water can travel along the length of pipes, it may take a little more detective work to find out where the leak has sprung from.
Once you’ve found the source of the leak, see if there is anything you can do to plug it. Although the water should have been turned off, there may be a little left in the pipes and it could still leech out. Then, assess the situation to see whether you can do a DIY fix or not. If the job is too big or complicated, you may need the help of professional plumbers.
If you have a bad leak or if you need to find a leak that is under your tile then call us. It’s important that you get it fixed as soon as possible, so that you can turn your water back on and enjoy hot showers, running water and, well…normal family life.
The professional plumbers here at Home Angels will get to you quickly and do our best to solve your plumbing issues fast. You can call us at any time of the night or day with any problem, no matter how big or small, and we will be on it. Get in touch with us on 1-855-938-2374