How Can a Water Leak Sensor Save Your Home from Flooding?

You know what they say about an ounce of prevention

Brianne Sandorf
Staff Writer, Home Security & Smart Home
Read More
September 19, 2022
3 min read

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Remember the record Texas cold snap of 2021? We know some folks whose lakeside cabin was ruined by burst pipes. To see the extent of the damage, they had to fly three hours and then drive another hour or so to the lake.

It would've been a whole other story if they'd had water leak sensors.  They would’ve known there was a problem immediately and called to get the water turned off. No plane tickets required.

An extreme example, but one of many reasons we think water leak sensors are a good idea—especially if you have a second residence you don’t visit very often.

Why use a water leak sensor?

One of the quickest ways to ruin a house and its contents? Water.

Water can ruin carpet pads, carpets, hardwood floors, upholstery, electrical appliances, antique furniture, important papers, favorite books, you name it. Even once you clean up a flood, mold can set in, and your home and possessions may never be the same.

A water sensor is a good way to prevent all that. Yeah, it’s not surefire, but it’s better than no leak-detection system.

Even if you rarely leave home, you may not immediately notice that leak under the sink, behind the washer, or in that one basement room that creeps you out a little. You never knew where hidden leaks might spring up; it takes one burst pipe or one backed-up sump pump to create a disaster.

How does a water leak sensor work?

We wish we knew. JK (sort of).

There are lots of different types of water leak sensors. Generally, the small portable sensors used for smart home and security systems detect moisture and/or temperature changes to determine if your pipes leak or freeze. We’re just not sure how they do it.

For instance, some sensors find leaks by measuring water pressure, while others know water’s around because the drops complete an electrical circuit.¹

Because the sensors we’re thinking of usually sit under a pipe, we’re leaning more towards the circuit theory. But we don’t know for sure because home security providers aren’t sharing. (To be fair, this is a pretty obscure topic, and most users aren’t asking about it.)

Which water leak sensor should I choose?

Most home security water leak sensors are similar, but there are a few differences.

Some flood sensors are also freeze sensors—they ensure your pipes aren't below a certain temperature. That may sound like a different kettle of fish, but since cold spells damage pipes, it goes hand in hand with water leaks.

In fact, some systems use only freeze sensors to prevent potential leaks instead of sensing them after they occur. And some sell their freeze sensors and flood sensors separately.

The main thing we recommend looking out for is installation type. Are you comfortable installing the sensor on your own? If you are, DIY should work just fine. If you’re not, you might want to consider a professional setup.

Top home security systems with sensors
Provider
Water leak sensor price
Separate freeze sensor
Installation type
Details
$69.99
Icon Yes  DarkYes ($69.99)
Professional
$19.99
Icon No  DarkNo
DIY
$33.74
Icon No  DarkNo
DIY
$49.00
Icon Yes  DarkYes ($49.00)
DIY, professional
$20.00
Icon No  DarkNo
DIY

Data effective 08/19/2022. Offers subject to change.

The sensors in this table all come with full home alarm systems. If you just want a water leak sensor without any extra trappings, there are tons of options from companies like Govee and Moen.

How do you install a water leak sensor?

So how do you install a water leak sensor? It’s usually pretty straightforward.

Other benefits of water leak detection systems
Money

Catching even a tiny drip can save you on your water bill! And if you’re conscientious about your consumption, leak prevention lowers your water supply needs.

Installing a water leak sensor goes along these lines:

  1. Make sure the installation area is dry.
  2. Activate the sensor, then connect it to the home security system or app.
  3. Place it under a pipe or near any other potential water source you want to monitor.

If you have a separate freeze sensor, the process should be about the same.

Where should you put your sensors?
Info Box

There’s an endless supply of potential leaks, but here are a few top ones to consider:

  • Near refrigerators, tubs, and toilets
  • Under sinks and other plumbing

Behind the water heater and washing machine

Recap

Let’s recap what we’ve learned about water sensors.

  • Why use a water leak sensor? It’s an easy, relatively inexpensive way to keep your home dry.
  • How does a water leak sensor work? There are a few different ways a leak sensor might operate, but all of them work well for home needs.
  • Which water leak sensor should I choose? It depends on if you also want a freeze sensor—and if you want to install it yourself.
  • How do you install a water leak sensor? For most sensors, you just connect it and set it on the floor.

You’re now a water leak detection system expert. Here are some other ways to protect your home.

Learn about smoke detectors.

Learn about carbon monoxide detectors.

Sources

Brianne Sandorf
Written by
Brianne Sandorf
Brianne has a degree in English and creative writing from Westminster College and has spent 6+ years writing professional, research-based content. Before joining Reviews.org, she wrote safety and security content for ASecureLife.com. Her pieces and quotes are published across the web, including on MSN.com, Social Catfish, and Parents.com. Hobbies include wearing a seatbelt, wearing a life jacket, and keeping her arms and legs inside the ride at all times. Contact her at brianne@reviews.org.

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