The Water Leak “Police” – A Must for All DIY Vacation & Rental Homeowners

Ask any home insurance agent and they’ll tell you that water leaks are one of the most common and costly causes of damage to a home.  If not addressed immediately, water leaks can destroy floors, walls, furniture, electronics and personal property.  If you own a vacation home that sits empty for months or a rental property with tenants, the water leak “police” — otherwise known as a whole house water detection system – is one of the best ways to protect your investment from catastrophic water damage.  Whether you are there or not, a whole house water detection system will monitor your property 24/7 and prevent damage from water leaks, drips and flooding.Whole house water detection system


How Does a Whole House System Work?


A whole house water detection system has an automatic water shutoff valve on the main water supply pipe.  If a leak is detected anywhere in your home, the system turns off the main water supply line so the entire house is protected.

Most whole house systems use sensors (wired or wireless ) that are placed where leaks are likely to occur, like next to an appliance or in the basement or attic.  WaterCop is an example of a whole house system that supports an unlimited number of sensors so you can monitor appliances and locations everywhere in the house.

Another type of whole house system, like the one by FloLogic, uses a “flow meter” that monitors the level of water coming into the house and shuts off the water main if the flow exceeds a preset limit.  (Note that while very effective, this type of system cannot be used to monitor water leaks caused by non-plumbing issues, like a leaky roof.)


Top Causes of Home Water Leaks


WaterCop "Captain" - Super Deluxe Package WCKSDLFFor vacation homes and rental properties, we recommend a DIY water detection system that uses sensors so the home can be monitored for leaks from top to bottom.  Here is a list of the most common sources of water leaks and reasons why they fail.  These are the places you will want to locate your water leak sensors.

1. Water Heaters — Water heaters that have passed their life expectancy (typically about 10 years) can start to rust or corrode and leak pretty quickly.

2.  Washing Machines – Washing machine fixtures may corrode and the connections can loosen due to time and movement, resulting in leaks.  Note that a leaking washing machine located on a main floor instead of the basement can cause extensive damage on the levels below.

3.  Dishwasher — An improper seal at the door or a build-up of deposits and chemicals can cause your dishwasher’s seals to break down.  Leaks can be hard to detect because they are underneath or behind.

4.  Refrigerators, freezers and icemakers — Like a dishwasher, leaking pipes and hoses are often overlooked because they’re behind or under the fridge or freezer.  A loose hose connection for the icemaker is another common cause of leakage.

5.  Toilets — In a newer home, sudden toilet failure can be caused by a faulty supply line or fill valve.  Older homes are more likely to develop a slow, seeping leak.  Clogs are common problems in new and old toilets and causing messy overflows.

6.  Bathroom sinks, tubs and showers — Forgetting to turn off the water is a big cause of bathroom floods!  So are clogged drains, broken plumbing behind walls, old or damaged caulk and grout, faulty drain pipes and cracked shower pans.

7.  Attics, basements and garages – Leaks in these out-of-the-way places often go unnoticed until too late.  Causes include old or faulty plumbing or water coming in from the outside due things like a leaky roof, cracked floor or rising groundwater.


Alerts and Remote Control


Mi Casa Verde Z-Wave Home Automation- Build Your Own KitA water leak “police” system is a favorite with absentee homeowners and landlords because it watches out for their property when they’re away.  For even more comprehensive protection, make your DIY water detection system part of a home automation system so you’ll get alerting and remote control features.

Depending upon the type of home automation controller you pick, your whole house water detection system can alert you via phone call, email and/or text message to let you know that a water leak occurred and the water main has been turned off.  You’ll also be able to remotely open and close your main water supply, so you can shut down the entire plumbing system from wherever you happen to be.

Both the FortrezZ Wireless Z-Wave Water Valve WV-01 connected to a Mi Casa Verde Z-Wave Controller or the WaterCop with Z-Wave Controller give you alerting and remote control capabilities, as well as the ability to monitor for low temperatures.


Additional Reading


Protecting your vacation home or rental property from water leaks is difficult when you aren’t around all of the time, which is why installing a water leak “police” whole house water detection system is one of the easiest and cost-effective decisions you can make.

When shopping for a water detection system, note that the diameter of your automatic water shutoff valves must be matched to the your pipe.  Most shutoff valves are available in standard diameters:  ½” to 1-¼.”  The WaterCop system offers the widest range of sizes.  For more help in choosing a whole house water detection system, as well as information on automatic water shut off valves for a single appliance, go to “How to Protect Your Home from Costly Water Leaks.”

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