Types of Home Water Line Leak Detection Technology
January 15, 2020
Water leaks are among the most common (and most costly) causes of damage within a home. With there being so many household appliances that use water to operate, leaks can occur just about anywhere throughout the house. As a result, technologies that detect and/or stop leaks in a home are of paramount importance to prevent costly damage and high water bills.
There are a range of different technologies designed to prevent leaks, from simple moisture sensors that alert a homeowner to the presence of water, to sophisticated, internet-connected systems that monitor water flow and shut off the water valve automatically when a leak is detected. Let’s go over a few of these technologies now.
1. Moisture Sensors
Moisture sensors are the most rudimentary of home leak detection technologies. These devices detect leaks by either monitoring the amount of water on the ground, or checking for an abnormal water flow within pipes. If a leak is detected, an audible or silent alarm is triggered to alert the homeowner to turn off their water valve. Many moisture sensors are also internet-enabled and will inform a homeowner of freezing temperatures and high humidity levels via smartphone. The kinds of moisture sensors available range from cheap devices listed on Amazon to expensive smart home solutions.
The main disadvantage of moisture sensors is that they must be installed at several locations throughout the house to ensure adequate protection. This means that multiple devices all need to be managed separately, which makes it easy to forget to maintain one or two of them. Furthermore, moisture sensors can easily be triggered even when there’s no actual leak. All it takes to set off an alarm is an unusually humid day. Lastly, moisture sensors only alert homeowners that they need to shut off their water valve. They provide no solution for stopping leaks automatically, which can be problematic if one occurs while people are not at home.
2. Water Flow Interrupters
Flow interrupters differ from moisture sensors in that they directly control the main water supply to a house. If either a leak or an excessive water flow is detected, then the house’s water valve is automatically shut off. Flow interrupters can also send silent alerts if they detect dangerously low pipe temperatures, low batteries, or water flow beyond a set limit.
Water flow interrupters are generally preferred over moisture sensors since they provide a centralized method of detecting leaks. Since they are usually connected directly to the water shut-off valve, there’s no need to place sensors at multiple locations throughout the house. In addition, flow-based systems can do more than just prevent water damage--they can also keep your water bill down. If a certain threshold of continuous water flow is exceeded, regardless of if it’s a leak or not, the water will be cut off.
3. Integrated Systems
Some leak detection systems utilize a combination of flow interrupters and moisture sensors. These systems enjoy the benefits of both of the previous technologies. Moisture sensors will often be set up on a single floor or room, and if any one of them is triggered, the entire flow of water to the house will be stopped. An added convenience of these integrated systems is that the flow of water can be cut off from a single appliance instead of the whole house. That means if, for instance, a leak occurs in the washing machine, its water supply will be automatically cut off while the rest of the house operates as normal. This allows the source of a leak to be tracked much more accurately.
There are a number of leak detection systems available, but the majority of them boil down to two categories: alarm-based sensors, or flow interrupters that automatically shut off a house’s water supply. It is always good to be alerted when a leak occurs, but it’s even better if the system can stop water flow without any human intervention. As a result, systems with automatic shut-off functions are typically valued over mere alarms when it comes to protecting against water damage.
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