301.519.9237 exdirector@nesaus.org

3.10.23 – Security Sales & Integration

Despite the constant risk of water leaks, only 6% of homes currently have a smart leak detection system, according to an estimate from Parks Associates.
Image: zhOngphO/Stock.Adobe.com.

Whether customers want to admit it, water leak damage is always in the back of their minds – this is another great opportunity for security professionals.

Our job is to provide our customers peace of mind. What is that worth? Well, we always hear stories of how a home burglary caused family members to now have that feeling of vulnerability. A burglar alarm system gives them extra peace of mind, and to many that feeling is priceless.

We’ve all seen how devastating a fire can be, especially if it goes undetected or unreported for even a brief time. Understanding time is of the essence in a fire alarm response, the customer feels secure in the knowledge that a basic monitored fire alarm system can ensure a rapid fire alarm response.

There is another critical security service that often goes overlooked by both the security dealer and their customers. It can be devastating for property damage if not attended to quickly and is a danger that all households and businesses face: massive property loss from nonflood water damage.

Did you know that one is six times more likely to experience water damage than fire damage, and seven times more likely than a burglary? A small leak can often lead to substantial damage. Whether our customers want to admit it, water leak damage is always in the back of their minds. If presented properly, this is another great opportunity for security professionals to come to their rescue. Just imagine, a water pipe leak creating hundreds of gallons of water, undetected and unreported. One customer was noted in saying that after a water pipe leak on their second floor of the house, the house was never the same to them again.

Yet despite the constant risk of water leaks, only 6% of homes currently have a smart leak detection system, according to an estimate from Parks Associates. Another benefit for the dealers, additional services equate to more recurring monthly revenue (RMR) sources. Let’s look at some of the different types of water leak detection technology.

A type that many are familiar with is the spot or small area sensor. These are super easy to install and inexpensive. Because water is a good conductor of electricity, these button-sized sensors have two electrodes very close to floor level and will detect ponding water, possibly from a leaking washing machine or hot water heater. The water completes the circuit sending an alarm either locally or monitored.

The next device is a whole-house water valve flow unit, which is either placed in line with the main incoming water pipe or mounted on top of the main water valve so a lever can electrically turn the manual water flow valve and eliminate the need for a plumber to install. Both types of electrical mechanical valves can be triggered by independent water sensors, or internally by intelligent flow sensors in the water flow valve assembly. One of the popular water flow detection technologies now being used is ultrasonics, which can sense irregularities in flow from a dripping faucet to a water pipe bursting.


Tool of the Month: There have always been a few features missing in water flow valve shutoff devices. It looks like Alarm.com has nailed it. When away, the Water Dragon is designed to internally detect leaks throughout a house, automatically turn off the water, and notify accordingly. Additionally, temperature monitoring notifies users of potential pipe freezes. Alarm.com bills the Water Dragon as a “no-plumber-needed” solution with “clip-and-zip” installation. Image courtesy of Alarm.com.

Two popular water flow valve monitors are the new Water Dragon from Alarm.com (see Tool of the Month) and the Moen Flo Smart Water Monitor and Shutoff. The Water Dragon was recently introduced at the 2023 Consumer Electronics Show. The security trade always respects new devices from Alarm.com, and this appears to be no disappointment. When away, the Water Dragon is designed to internally detect whole-house leaks, automatically turn off the water, and notify accordingly. Small leaks when at home will notify customers but not shut off in order to avoid any untimely interruption. Temperature monitoring will notify homeowners in cases of possible frozen pipes.

The Moen Flo Smart Monitor is designed to similarly shut off the main water valve in cases of pipe leakage. It will also do a nightly audit of the water system to pick up on any irregularities.

As you can imagine with any water flow device, leak time is of the essence to you customers. Automatic shutoff features can fill that bill. The drawback of spot water sensors is no one really knows for sure where that next home water leak will be. That’s why I think that the valve sensor combination units are worth a serious look. Both systems have smartphone apps that allow the customer to keep tabs on daily water usage and alerts.

About the Author

BOB DOLPH, SSI Contributor


Bob is currently a Security Sales & Integration “Tech Talk” columnist and a contributing technical writer. Bob installed his first DIY home intercom system at the age of 13, and formally started his technology career as a Navy communication electronics technician during the Vietnam War. He then attended the Milwaukee School of Engineering and went on to complete a Security Management program at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Since 1976, Bob has served in a variety of technical, training and project management positions with organizations such ADT, Rollins, National Guardian, Lockheed Martin, American Alarm Supply, Sonitrol and Ingersoll Rand. Early in his career, Bob started and operated his own alarm dealership. He has also served as treasurer of the Wisconsin Burglar and Fire Alarm Association and on Security Industry Association (SIA) standards committees. Bob also provides media and training consulting to the security industry.