Whole-Home Leak Detectors: How Do They Work And Why Should You Install One?

If your home doesn't have a whole-home leak detector with an automatic shut-off feature, it's a good idea to install one. These detectors will immediately shut off water to your home when it detects that you have a leak, whether it's from a burst pipe or a faulty plumbing fixture. Shutting off the water immediately is crucial to prevent severe water damage. To learn how these leak detectors work and why it's a good idea to have one installed, read on.

How Do Whole-Home Leak Detectors Work?

A whole-home leak detector is a valve that's installed on your main water supply pipe. When it detects a leak, the valve immediately closes in order to prevent any more water from entering your home, which stops the leak and helps prevent potentially catastrophic water damage from occurring.

There are two methods that whole-home leak detectors can use in order to determine when a leak is occurring in your home. The first method is to detect leaks near your fixtures. Moisture sensors can be installed on the floor around your plumbing fixtures and connected to the whole-home leak detector. Whenever a sensor detects water leaking out of a fixture, it will signal the leak detector to shut off water to your home.

Whole-home leak detectors can also catch leaks by monitoring the rate at which water is flowing through your main supply pipe. When you install one of these leak detectors, you connect to it with your smartphone and set up a water usage schedule based on how you use the plumbing fixtures in your home. When you're at home, you can set the leak detector to be permissive — this allows you to shower and wash your dishes without worrying about setting up the leak detector. When you leave home, you can set the leak detector to immediately shut off water to your home if it detects a significant amount of water flowing through your main supply pipe, since this is usually a sign of a leak.

Should You Use Moisture Sensors or Flow Rate Sensors for Whole-Home Leak Detection?

Flow rate sensors are typically the better option for whole-home leak detection since they're able to detect burst pipes in the walls. Moisture sensors are placed around your plumbing fixtures, so they're only able to detect leaks that originate from a faulty plumbing fixture.

However, flow rate sensors can be more difficult to set up and use correctly — you need to ensure that the water usage schedule you set on the device matches your water usage habits. If you don't set up the flow rate sensor correctly, it may not react to a burst pipe or other plumbing leak. Moisture sensors only need to be placed near your fixtures in order to protect you from leaks, so they're simpler to use.

Why Should You Install a Whole-Home Leak Detector?

Whole-home leak detectors are a great way to prevent your home from suffering catastrophic water damage. Without a leak detector that automatically shuts off your water, a burst pipe will continue to leak water into your home until you manually shut off your water. This can allow a massive amount of water to enter your home, resulting in damage to your flooring, drywall, and framing. Mold growth is also common after a water leak, and mold is often very expensive to fully remove.

As an added bonus, you can also often save a significant amount of money on your homeowners insurance premiums by installing a whole-home leak detector. The cost to repair severe water damage is extremely high, so insurance companies consider your home less risky to insure if you're able to prevent severe water damage from happening by installing a leak detector with an automatic shut-off valve.

If your home doesn't currently have a whole-home leak detector, contact a plumbing contractor in your area and have one installed. You'll need to have one installed by a professional since installation requires placing the automatic shut-off valve on your main water supply line. Once installed and set up correctly, you'll significantly reduce the chance of your home experiencing catastrophic water damage from a leak.