Flood Detection Basics

Get smart phone notifications of impending water damage

Home intruders get all the press, but one of the most destructive accidents in the home is caused by water. The cost of water damage to a home can range from $5000 to $70,000, according to State Farm Insurance. Fire damage is catastrophic in nature, but water damage should not be discounted for its ability to ruin memories, even days or weeks after the water is gone.

Flood damage can be an act of God (storms, catastrophic regional infrastructure failure, etc) or it could be caused by a lack of maintenance, an older home, or just bad luck. We won’t touch upon acts of nature (the odds are you’ll already know a flood is coming) but water damage due to lack of maintenance is preventable, and easily identified by the average DIY'er.

Some items to review:
  • Check your roof for damage, or your attic for water stains or mold/mildew.
  • Check gutters, downspouts, and drains to make sure water is being diverted away from the house.
  • Winterize your pipes; insulate outdoor faucets and crawl spaces.
  • Inspect pipes (supply AND sewer) for corrosion and damage.
  • Maintain an adequate minimum temperature, even if you won't be home.
  • Maintain your HVAC system prior to the winter's onset; be sure you have plenty of heating oil (if oil-fired) and a back-up plan.
  • Install and maintain a sump pump in your basement if you have chronic water infiltration issues.
  • Inspect washing machine supply hoses as well as drains. Consider installing shut-off valves (manual or automatic).
  • Refrigerator ice makers and permanently mounted dishwashers also have hidden water supplies that can cause a quiet, but steady leak that can go unnoticed.
  • Add a flood water detection system, or whole-house water shut off.
One of the easiest and cost-effective ways of adding water detection to your home is by expanding your home automation system with flood detection. A Z-Wave hub and water sensor can be purchased for under $150, and give the homeowner notifications 24/7, even if nobody is home. If you already have a Z-Wave gateway, adding a water sensor will cost $40-$90 and take about an hour of your time.

In this example, we’ve paired a DSB45-ZWUS from Aeotec, with a WINK 2 hub, installed between the boiler and hot water heater.



The sensor pairs with the hub using a smart phone app. There is a small “robot” (scene) to automate what happens. Normally, the sensor just reports dry:



However, when water is introduced to the prongs, the sensor reports wet, and sends a notification to the homeowner.



This installation (sensor install and gateway pair/scene setup) took about 20 minutes (the gateway was up and running and this device was within sufficient Z-Wave range).

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