What is a Water Leak Detector?
The water leak detector is very easy to install and can be placed on floors where leaks may occur, such as directly under refrigerators, sinks, toilets or washing machines. They usually have two or more metal sensor terminals (feet) that touch the floor, and a built-in Bluetooth or Wi-Fi radio to connect to your phone. The sensor triggers when the foot touches water; usually just a few drops are all it takes to activate it. The device then sends a push alert or email (or both) and sounds the alarm. Make sure to look for sensors that provide a fairly loud siren that you can hear anywhere in your home.
Of course, there is always the possibility that leaking water will start to puddle in the area near the sensor location. To ensure you're alerted before too much water builds up, buy a pack with multiple sensors for extended water detection. Alternatively, purchase a sensor with an extension cord. In most cases, the entire extension cord acts as a sensor. You can hang this type of water sensor on the wall (with the cable on the floor) or place it with the cable directly on the floor for maximum coverage.
What makes a water leak detector smart?
A smart water sensor can communicate with your phone or any other mobile device in a number of ways. Some sensors only support Bluetooth, which means you have to be within range of the device (usually around 40 feet) to receive alerts and silent alerts. If you want to receive alerts and control sensors while you're away, make sure it has a Wi-Fi radio or is part of a connected home automation system.
For anyone living in a climate where pipes freeze or temperature and humidity levels tend to be high, look for a water sensor that also monitors ambient conditions. If your sensor has built-in temperature and humidity sensors, it can send alerts when conditions reach certain thresholds. For example, if you live in a cold climate, you can set the sensor to alert you when the temperature drops to 32 degrees Fahrenheit (a level that could cause pipes to burst). Likewise, if you live in a hot climate and a muggy environment, you can configure the sensor to alert you when humidity levels reach 55% or higher to avoid mold growth. Unusually high humidity levels may also indicate a water leak.