bathroom sink faucet running wasting waterWhen I was a junior or senior in high school, I remember this time I accidentally flooded my parents’ bathroom and caused a steady stream of water to come out of the light fixtures and run down the walls of the kitchen downstairs. I caused it by leaving a bathroom faucet in one of the upstairs bathrooms running all day. I guess I’d been brushing my teeth and forgot to turn off the water. I left the house and headed off to school. When I returned from school about 6 hours later – at that time I worked in the afternoons, so I went to school for half-days and returned before my parents – I walked into our downstairs kitchen to find water streaming down from the ceiling, splashing onto the kitchen floor!

The water flowing upstairs had exceeded what the bathroom sink and overflow could contain. After overrunning the sink and filling the bathroom floor, it found its way downstairs. When I asked her about it recently, my mom recalls getting a call at work from me asking if we had a Shop-Vac, (?!) which made her kind of worried. She rushed home to see the damage. The water had run down the kitchen walls, making the wallpaper sag. With a rolling pin, she rolled the wallpaper flat so that the water came out the top. Some vacuuming, towels and fan drying later, all was back to normal. But we were lucky. Had the water made its way to my mom’s brand new expensive dining room table, she says I would have surely been grounded for years!

water damaged wall in a home by Remy Sharp
Moldy wall caused by water damage.  Photo by Remy Sharp CC-BY-SA

We were fortunate that we caught this leak when we did. It could have been much worse! In many cases where plumbing failures cause leaks, homeowners never know there’s water seeping into the walls. In those cases, high water bills can persist over time, sheetrock and wood can rot, and mold can develop.

Sometimes mold is toxic, causing health issues for kids and adults who are sensitive to it. The spores can spread quickly and cover a large area, which can make for a costly remediation. Unfortunately, damage caused by slow leaks is not usually covered by homeowners insurance (source). Oftentimes, if the insurance company deems that a maintenance issue caused the mold, rather than some other covered cause, then the cost of repairs is up to the homeowner.

 

Preventing water damage

flooded bathroom from sink left runningWhen it comes to protecting your home from water damage, prevention is key. According to ACE Private Risk Services, up to 93% of the cost of plumbing-related water damage could have been prevented if an automatic water leak detection and shut-off system had been present in the homes (source). Leaks from appliances, burst pipes, HVAC units and hot water heaters can cost an average of $5,000 and up after insurance deductibles are met (source). The cost of cleaning up and replacing sheetrock, floors and furnishings can be pretty steep, especially when leaks go undetected for a long time, as can happen in vacation homes or while you’re away on vacation.

Many people simply don’t know that they even have a leak. EPA’s Water Sense estimates that 10% of U.S. homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more each day! That equals around one trillion gallons nationwide per day (source). These leaks often go undetected and  can add up to hundreds of dollars in extra water bills each year. Here’s a checklist you can use to check your house.

Hydroid detects leaks and can automatically shut off your water supply. The way it works is this: once the Hydroid is installed in the main water line, it begins sending water use data to the app on your smartphone. The meter uses your home Wifi network (and can be configured to work with several types of other networks, e.g. LAN, LoRaWAN, LPWAN). Hydroid’s whole house leak detection system measures every drop of water with ultrasonic sensors located in the body of the brass pipe, down to about ¼ of an ounce per minute. The information is relayed to the companion Hub, and from there gets relayed to your mobile device. If the Hydroid detects anything out of the ordinary, like a high water flow or a slow continuous trickle of water, it will alert you to a possible leak. You have the ability to close the water valve remotely using your smartphone. That way, you can prevent any more water from flowing.

If you’re away on vacation or have a second home that will be empty for a while, you can use the ‘away’ setting to automatically shut off the water in case Hydroid detects any leaks.

Our hope is that Hydroid will help you avoid the type of headache-inducing leaks that can drain your time and wallet. Our whole house leak detection system can save you hundreds of dollars a year by catching small leaks like worn out toilet flappers, or save you thousands simply by averting the next plumbing disaster.

Have you ever had the misfortune of a leak at your home or workplace? Tell me about it in the comments below.

Get Hydroid for Your Home

Hydroid is planning to launch a crowdfunding campaign in early 2018 to raise funds to manufacture the device. If you would like to be one of the first to get a special early-bird discount, please join our mailing list!

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