Smart Home Technology Works for Water Leaks, Too

Contact: Sustainability and Green Building

Did you know that 10% of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day? According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) WaterSense program, minor water leaks account for more than 1 trillion gallons of wasted water each year, which is equal to the annual household water use in 11 million homes.

Plus, a survey by HomeAdvisor found that water damage in a home can cost between $1,300 to nearly $6,000, with an average cost of more than $3,500, to clean up and repair.

EPA’s annual Fix a Leak Week aims to raise awareness about water leaks in the home and provide solutions to save money and water.

Many sources can contribute to water damage, including water heater failure, a burst pipe, a broken supply line under the sink, a clogged toilet or even a split hose connected to a washing machine. So how can home owners prevent these types of incidents from occurring? Smart home technology can help.

Most people think of smart home technology to control thermostats and lights, lock doors or monitor front door traffic through a phone app. But there is also technology to sense weak points in plumbing systems, detect leaks within the walls and in rooms, and even turn off a water main automatically if a problem is detected.

As part of a smart home tech package, builders or home owners can install leak detectors where water damage could start: the laundry room, water heater closet, bathroom, and under a kitchen sink. Many leak detectors use metal sensors to detect increased conductivity when they come into contact with water. Sensors may use probes, cables with multi-point leads, that can be run along a perimeter of a room, such as a basement, or the entire sensor may sit on the floor to detect the presence of water.

Other sensors use different technology, such as pressure wave analysis, to pick up on system fluctuations, and discover hidden drips and leaks within the walls. Some products can go beyond leak detection by automatically turning off the water to the home when a leak or failure is detected or providing notification and remote access to water shutoff through the home owner’s phone app.

Home owners can also perform maintenance to replace worn toilet flappers, fix dripping faucets and leaking showerheads, as well as monitor and repair in-ground irrigation systems and garden hoses to stop water leaks.

For more on how to check for and fix water leaks, visit EPA WaterSense’s Fix a Leak Week web page.