Water Leak Detection

How does a flood sensor work?


MAY 25, 2021

water-leak-detection desktop

A burst pipe in the garage, a second-story toilet flooding the bathroom, or roof leaks after a storm all can mean costly repair bills. According to the most recent data from the Insurance Information Institute, water damage and freezing account for 19.5% of annual insurance claims. That translates to about one in every 50 insured homes filing a property damage claim due to some type of water, mold, or freeze damage.

Early detection of leaks and flooding is key to minimizing damage, however. A water leak detector — also called a flood sensor — can help mitigate that risk by alerting you to the presence of moisture.

How does a flood sensor work?

You may assume that you’ll notice if a water line leaks, your washing machine hose gets disconnected, or your basement’s sump pump suddenly quits working. Wireless water leak detectors are the best option for finding those drips, leaks, and standing water.

A water sensor functions by using a transmitter and probe to detect and alert you to an issue. To install a flood sensor in any space of your home, position the transmitter (also called a water bug) on a wall to keep it from getting wet, and run the probes or cord along the floor. When the flood sensor detects moisture, it sends a notification via a text message or smartphone alert so you can promptly address the situation.

A flood sensor is also a great way to monitor your home when you’re away on vacation, and it can help you keep tabs on any outbuildings on your property or rental properties you may own.

Where to place water leak sensors?

Consider adding water leak detectors to the following spaces:

  • Basement, garage, cellar, or attic

  • Near a fridge, freezer, or dishwasher

  • Under sinks

  • In a laundry room

  • Near toilets or tubs

  • By a water heater

What to do if a flood sensor detects water

Here are a few steps to take when your water detection sensor sends you an alert:

  • Determine the location of the leak. Did the toilet simply overflow because your child stuffed it with too much toilet paper? Or did a hard rain push an inch of water into your basement? Once you’ve found the source of the water, then you can assess the damage.

  • Turn off water at the source. In the case of a washing machine, toilet, sink, or other plumbing leak, cut the water either under your sink or at the water main.

  • Clean up what you can. A leaky chest freezer in your basement may be as simple as mopping the floor and taking the freezer outside to defrost, whereas attic damage from a hurricane or storm may not be so easy to clean up. Move any belongings out of the way. Air out spaces, and use a dehumidifier to help prevent mold and mildew growth.

  • Hand bigger jobs to the professionals. If you can’t turn off the water, your water sprinklers went off with the fire alarm and caused widespread damage, or a pipe in your garage burst, it may be time to contact a professional.

  • Call your insurance company. An overflowing sink may be a pain to clean up, but it may not cause enough damage to destroy your countertops or floors. An intense storm that floods your basement or your home, however, means you might have to replace floors, subfloors, walls, and furnishings. Take detailed photos and inventory of damaged items, and contact your insurance agent immediately.

A home security system with a water leak detector is a great way to ensure your home remains safe and secure. Contact Brinks Home™ to get started, or check out our Smart Home Center for resources on waterproofing your home.

Jason Stevens is a senior writer for Brinks Home. He is a "tech guy" who enjoys sharing home security and automation tips with others.

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