Smart homes are growing in popularity, and you don’t have to be a genius or invest a ton of money to make your home smart. In fact, one of the best ways to start is by adding basic sensors like a smart water leak detector that can help in an emergency. Knowing you have a water leak is the first step to stopping it and preventing damage.
By catching a leak early on, you can fix the underlying issue before it causes damage to your home. A leak detector probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of smart homes. However, they are quickly becoming invaluable tools. The biggest benefit is that these sensors can send real-time notifications as soon as they sense a drop of water.
Background on Water Leak Detectors
If you aren’t familiar with leak detectors, don’t worry. They operate similarly to a smoke detector in your home. However, they sense water coming in contact with the underside of the device. Most of the time, they are placed on the floor near appliances or valves that are prone to leaking. These devices typically have small metal probes sticking out the back to sense the water.
The probes also hold the device off the ground a small amount so water doesn’t get inside. That way, you can reuse smart water leak detectors for many years, even if they’ve sensed water previously. But the reason for the recent surge in popularity is that these devices can now send a mobile alert. In addition, you can use them in conjunction with smart shutoff valves to turn off the flow of water as soon as a leak is detected.
Reasons to Buy a Smart Water Leak Detector
Detect Faulty Appliances
The first reason you may consider buying a smart water leak detector is to spot a broken appliance. It isn’t uncommon for appliances to suddenly fail. Unfortunately, when an appliance, such as a water heater, dishwasher, or washing machine breaks, it can send water throughout your home. This turns the unpleasant situation of a broken appliance into a horrific one.
The water can quickly damage your home’s flooring, cabinets, and anything else that it comes in contact with. By placing a simple water detector near appliances that use water, they can instantly alert you should something happen. The nice thing about these sensors is that they don’t need to go inside the appliance. You can simply place a water detector near a washing machine, and it will alert you if it comes in contact with water. This means that one sensor in your utility room could sense water coming from a water tank, washing machine, and other sources, like a washtub. From there, you could then determine what the source of the water is and turn off that appliance.
It is important to detect water coming from an appliance as soon as possible because the longer it sits, the more damage is done. In some cases, you may not even notice the water leaking. By catching it early, you can avoid costly property damage. You can also repair the faulty appliance before it completely fails and needs replacing.
Find Leaking Valves and Hoses
Besides appliances, your home is also filled with various types of water connections, faucets, hoses, and shutoffs that can all develop leaks. The good news is that most of the time, these leaks start off very small as simple drips. However, left unrepaired, these small leaks and drips will eventually grow into much larger problems.
Ideally, you should place a smart water sensor beneath every faucet and valve in your home. Doing so will ensure that it picks up any leaking shutoff or hose going to the faucet. This is critical because you likely don’t pay much attention to these areas.
For instance, how often do you look below your kitchen or bathroom sink? If your answer is not often, then that goes to show how badly you need a water detector. If you don’t want to invest a ton of money on sensors, a single one in your bathroom can go a long way. That will at least detect a sink or shower overflowing or a toilet backing up. Then, you can slowly acquire more sensors and place them in other water-prone places in your home.
Remotely Control Water
A smart water leak detector opens up a lot of possibilities for people with smart homes. Even if you don’t already have a smart home, you probably already have a couple of components. The biggest benefit comes when you pair a leak detector with a ball valve that can actually turn off the water going to your home before causing any damage.
With smart home technology, you can have the ball valve close whenever one of the leak detectors goes off. If that is a little too much for you, then you could always have the sensors send an alert and then switch the smart valve off yourself. You could obviously do this manually with the shutoff on your house, but the smart valve is a great option when you aren’t at home.
A fully integrated smart system would work really well if you travel a lot or have a vacation home. Keep in mind that if you have a gas water heater, you would also need to turn that off when you shut the water off. In addition, the smart valve will need to be installed on the main water line coming into your house. Doing so is a costly but worthwhile endeavor that could prevent significant damage.
Get an Alert for a Backed up AC Drain
One reason to buy a smart water leak detector that you probably never thought of is for an AC drain. Air conditioners produce condensation when running, and that water must leave your home. Most HVAC systems have a drain line connected directly to the unit and a secondary line connected to an overflow pan underneath.
Standard practice for new installs is to add a float switch to the pan to turn the AC off if the water gets too high. But many older homes do not have this safety switch, and it also won’t alert you in the event that water starts building up in the pan. The float switch is simply a last resort that turns the AC system off if it is about to overflow.
The problem is that water shouldn’t be going to the pan in the first place, and that alone indicates a problem. By placing a smart water leak detector in your overflow pan, you can get an alert whenever water enters it. That way, you know there is a problem with your unit and can call a repairman to fix it before larger problems arise.
Without a sensor in the pan, you will never know that there is a clog in the main drain. This could lead to the drain pan eventually rusting or getting clogged. If that were to happen, the water could begin dripping into your attic, ruining the insulation and drywall. Unfortunately, this isn’t something that most people or HVAC technicians will catch until it is too late.
Early Flood Detection
A great way to use a smart water leak detector is to sense water infiltration. Many people think about plumbing when they hear leak detection, but these devices will go off when any water is sensed. By placing a leak detector at points of entry, like a door, you will quickly find out if your home starts to flood or rainwater starts to blow in.
This works well around doors that may not seal very well, such as a garage door. Having a little water get into your garage may not be a dire emergency, but it is something you would want to know about in order to ensure the door is closed and that nothing gets wet. Leak detectors work equally well around windows and other types of doors that don’t have good seals.
Because leak detectors can go anywhere, you could also place them in an attic or crawlspace to detect water coming from a vent. Similarly, you could place one in a shed or at your business to detect moisture you otherwise wouldn’t know about.
Keep in mind that knowing about water intrusion is important, but you will still need a plan to address any underlying problems that you come across.
Best Smart Water Leak Detectors
We’ve covered many reasons why you should get a smart water leak detector. But now it’s time to think about which one you should buy. Before you run out and buy a detector, you should first consider your existing smart home system, if you have one, and then look into how it operates. In addition, if you have a security system, you may be able to get add-on leak detectors.
Once you know which systems you’d like the detectors to work with, take a look at our selection of some of the best leak detectors out there.
Ring Flood Freeze
First, we have the Ring Flood Freeze sensor, which works with the Ring family of products. This small round module is compact enough that you can easily place it behind a toilet or in the corner of a room. The sensor operates on Z-Wave, so it will work with your other smart home devices. Unfortunately, it does require a Ring Alarm Security System and a Ring Protect Subscription.
Moen 900-006 Flo with 920-004
- Includes both a water detector and a shutoff valve
- Supports app control
- The shutoff valve is suitable for a 1 to 1 and a quarter inch pipe.
- Supports Alexa and Google assistant
Next up is the Moen Flo detector and shutoff, which includes the smart water detector and an in-line shutoff valve. The sensor and shutoff both operate on Wi-Fi, so you will get an alert, and the valve will disconnect your water. The sensor module is actually two pieces, including a small box with an audible alarm to mount on the wall and a small sensor that you can place under or near appliances.
Kidde WiFi Water Leak + Freeze Detector
- Detects leaks, cold temperatures (below 37 degrees F), and sudden temperature drops
- 2 x AA battery powered (included)
- Connection: Wi-Fi
- Supports app and smart assistant (Alexa, Google) control
- Warranty: 1 year
Last is the Kidde WiFi Water Leak + Freeze Detector, which is a very simple yet smart device. It operates via Wi-Fi with the Kidde app, and it is also compatible with Google and Alexa smart home devices. That way, you can use it with or without the app and smart connectivity. Best of all, this is one of the most affordable and easiest-to-use smart water detectors.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Peter Bocklandt/Shutterstock.com.