Detecting water leaks in your home is important. Water leaks cost money, put more stress on aquatic ecosystems, contribute to pipe failures, reduce water quality and pose a threat to your family’s health.
Here are 6 ways to detect water leaks in your home:
1. Conduct a Meter Dial Test
One way to detect if there are water leaks in your home is by monitoring the meter dial. First, turn all faucets and water-using appliances off, then locate the water meter dial; it’s usually found in the basement where the water pipe enters your home. Observe the red triangle on your meter dial. If the red triangle moves even though you’ve turned off all faucets and all water-using appliances, then there is a water leak somewhere in your home.
You can also conduct a slow leak test. You can do this by recording your meter’s reading before you sleep, after you’re done using water for the day. Check the meter’s reading again in the morning before using any water. An increase in the meter’s reading will indicate that there is a water leak somewhere in your home.
2. Conduct a Toilet Tank Test
To find out if your toilet tank has a leak, drop a small amount of food coloring into the toilet tank. After 10 minutes, observe the toilet bowl. If there’s any discoloration in the toilet bowl, then your toilet tank is leaking. Make sure that after this test, you flush the discolored water as this can cause staining.
One of the most common causes for toilet tank leaks are old or worn-out toilet flappers, also known as the valve seal. A flapper is made from rubber. Over time, minerals and decay build up on the flapper. However, it can easily be replaced to fix the toilet tank leak; just bring the old flapper to the nearest hardware store to make sure that it perfectly fits your toilet model.
Other possible causes for a toilet tank leak are flappers that are not properly seated in the valve, misaligned or bent flapper wires and corroded valve seats.
In the event that the leak is around the base of the toilet tank or where the toilet sits on the floor, it’s time to call a professional.
According to the Natural Resources Canada, a toilet that continues to run after flushing can waste up to 200,000 liters of water per year.
3. Conduct a Faucet Leak Inspection
Finding a faucet leak is probably the easiest as this requires only a visual inspection. A leaking faucet will drip even when you turn the dial off. The problem with finding a faucet leak is when you have a number of faucets in your home; checking every one of them can be tedious.
The most common cause of faucet leaks are old and worn faucet washers and gaskets. The Do-It-Yourself Network has a tutorial for faucet repairs.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a leaky faucet that drips at the rate of one drip per second will waste 3,000 gallons of water per year. This wasted water is equivalent to the amount of water needed for over 180 showers.
4. Conduct a Showerhead Leak Inspection
Similar to faucets, finding out whether a showerhead is leaking can be determined by a simple visual inspection – if there’s a drip when you turn the dial off, you have a leak.
According to EPA, 500 gallons of water is wasted each year as a result of a showerhead leaking at 10 drips per minute. This is equivalent to the amount of water you need to wash 60 loads in your dishwasher.
A showerhead leak can be fixed by tightening the connection between the pipe stem and the showerhead with pipe tape. Pipe tape, also known as Teflon tape, is available at your nearest hardware store.
5. Conduct an Outdoor Leak Inspection
If you’re using an in-ground irrigation system, conduct a visual inspection of each spring for leaks as irrigation systems are susceptible to damage from frost or freezing.
According to EPA, an in-ground irrigation system that has a leak that is 1/32nd of an inch in diameter (similar to the thickness of a dime) will waste 6,300 gallons of water per month.
6. Use Flowie and Floodie Sensors
The best way to detect water leaks is by using the Flowie and Floodie sensors.
The Floodie sensor is a flood sensor that can be placed in flood-prone areas like under the toilet tank, dishwasher, water heater or in the basement. Once the Floodie sensor comes in contact with water, it sends text, email and in-app alerts.
The Flowie sensor is a water sensor that’s strapped onto the municipal water meter. This sensor comes with the following features:
Detects leaks and abnormal usage
Measures and reports water usage
Reports trends and analytics on water use, costs and changes
Reports power outages
Reports basement temperature and humidity
Sends text, email and in-app alerts for emergencies
The Flowie sensor is particularly useful in detecting water leaks that aren’t visible – for instance, pipe leaks. If undetected, leaks in water pipes may cause future pipe failures. Pipe leaks could also result in water contamination in your home, in turn threatening your health. Water leaks also result in mold growth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people have different reactions to molds.
“Some people are sensitive to molds,” the CDC said. “For these people, exposure to molds can lead to symptoms such as stuffy nose, wheezing, and red or itchy eyes or skin. Some people, such as those with allergies to molds or with asthma, may have more intense reactions.”
Detecting water leaks in your home is crucial to saving money, saving the environment and for providing a healthy environment for you and your family.
Call us today to learn about the water detection option for your home and prevent a disaster.
Insurance companies typically don’t cover flooding in areas where flooding is a regular occurrence (since insurance isn’t designed to cover regular occurrences), but rather to protect against random, unpredictable risks. Damage to a home caused by the sudden and accidental bursting of plumbing pipes and appliances, according to IBC, is usually covered by all home insurance policies.
According to Northbridge Insurance, many of these water damage insurance claims are preventable through the use of the Flowie water sensor and Floodie companion sensor. The insurance company offers homeowners annual savings of up to $150 on home insurance when they purchase an Alert Labs Home Solution package, consisting of a Flowie water sensor and a Floodie companion sensor.
What is Flowie? What is Floodie?
The Flowie is a water sensor that can be installed in less than 2 minutes without the need of tools or technical expertise; it just straps onto the municipal water meter.
The Floodie is a sensor that can be installed in flood-prone areas of the house such as toilets, sinks, under or near hot water heaters, laundry areas, window wells, dishwashers and garages.
The Flowie gives you real-time notifications regarding leaks, water consumption, pipe freezing warnings, weather, temperature, power outages and humidity. The Floodie gives you real-time notifications whenever your toilet, sink, nearby water heater, laundry area, window well, dishwasher or garage is flooded.
Both the Flowie and Floodie – made by Alert Labs, an IoT technology company based in Kitchener, Ontario – send notifications to your computer or mobile device in real-time whenever the above-mentioned incidents take place. Both sensors are fitted with a back-up battery and can work without a Wi-Fi connection. Each sensor uses a cellular connection which guarantees continuous operation even during a power outage.
“Our technology tracks and analyses water consumption and customers are notified of incidents that could point to a leak, such as continuously running water,” said Alert Labs CEO George Tsintzouras. “This makes us different from a lot of other solutions that focus on alerting customers after a flood has taken place. Our goal is to help homeowners avoid the expense and hassle of water damage in the first place with technology that’s easy to use.”
EPA added that more than 500 gallons per year can be wasted by a shower leaking at 10 drips per minute – this is the amount of water it takes to wash 60 loads of dishes in your dishwasher.
According to EPA, the most common types of leaks found in the home, such as worn toilet flappers, dripping faucets and other leaking valves, can be easily corrected.
Here are some of the traditional ways to detect water leaks:
Observe water usage during colder months, including January or February.
If your household only consists of 4 family members, yet your water usage exceeds 12,000 gallons per month, this is a sign that your home has serious leaks.
Check water meter prior to and after a 2 hour period when water isn’t being used. If there’s a meter change, most likely your home has a water leak.
Put a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If any color shows up in the bowl after 10 minutes, then you have a leak. After this test, flush immediately to prevent staining the toilet tank.
Check pipe fittings and faucet gaskets for any sign of water leakage.
How Flowie Water Sensor Works
When the Flowie water sensor is strapped onto your existing municipal water meter, it measures how much water your home is using – it basically reads what your meter is reading.
The Flowie uses its own antenna and internal cellular device (similar to a smartphone) to communicate the information that it senses to Alert Labs’ servers.
If the sensor observes something out of the ordinary (perhaps a leak or water left running), a text message, email and in-app notification alerts will be sent to you right away. You can also set up “delegates”, such as a property manager or neighbor, to be notified of events.
You can monitor your home through the use of the Alert Labs app. Using your computer, tablet or smartphone, you can view data analytics that capture various statistics for your property, such as daily or monthly average water consumption and basement temperature vs. outdoor temperature.
This sensor also provides you with the following analytics and insights:
Relating to Water:
Usage, flow rates, costs, trends
Leaky toilets, running taps, water left on, burst pipes, etc.
Abnormalities identified and flagged for investigation
Flood alarms (start and stop)
Relating to Power:
Property power status
Power outage notifications
Power restored notifications
Relating to the Environment:
Drop in temperature warnings
Freezing pipe alerts
Here is How to Save Money with Flowie
According to EPA, homeowners can save up to 10% on their water bills by fixing easily corrected household water leaks.
With the Flowie water sensor and Floodie companion sensor, $600 can be saved annually from a single leaking toilet; $42,000 can be saved from a flooded basement (average repair cost); $150 per year can be saved for insurance coverage that offers up to $150 or a 10% discount for installing Alert Labs’ Flowie and Floodie sensors.
How a Canadian City Saves Water via Smart Water Sensor
The city of Guelph – situated just 100 km west of Toronto, Ontario Canada – is home to over 120,000 people. It’s a fast-growing city; its water supply, however, isn’t.
For its water supply, the city only depends on groundwater. This dependency on groundwater leaves the city low on water supply specifically during summer months and droughts.
Last summer, to reduce the city’s water consumption, the city commenced a water challenge to look for a partner that offers the best smart meter/leak detection solution that’s sold directly to consumers. The city sets the following criteria for the best smart meter/leak detection solution:
Reduce average residential water use in Guelph by 10L per day
Reduce damage and wasted water due to undetected leaks
Reduce billing disputes caused by undetected leaks, particularly for multi-resident buildings
Alert homeowners to potential leaks or other water use issues (e.g., unauthorized use)
Targeted at single-family and multi-residential dwellings
Provide timely access to water usage figures
Provide timely access to household performance metrics (e.g., water efficiency ratings, performance against comparable homes/customers)
Sold directly to customers and affordable for a main-stream market
Alert Labs responded to the water challenge by offering its Flowie water sensor and Floodie companion sensor – water sensors that send real-time alerts to a customer’s smartphone for emergencies like floods or leaks. In September 2016, Alert Labs won the city of Guelph’s water challenge with its conservation tech: Flowie water sensor and Floodie companion sensor.
The Flowie water sensor takes real-time readings from standard residential and commercial water meters. This water sensor can simply be installed in just 2 minutes by strapping it onto the water meter. It automatically connects to the cellular network. No need for a wi-fi connection. The sensor sends to your computer, tablet or smartphone real-time monitoring of water consumption, analyzes trends and reports valuable analytics.
The Floodie companion sensor, meanwhile, sends you alerts to your computer, tablet or smartphone whenever it comes in contact with water.
The city of Guelph has the Flowie Water Sensor Rebate program which covers the Flowie water sensor and Floodie companion sensor. Alert Labs, the maker of Flowie water sensor and Floodie companion sensor, gives a $50 instant rebate for Guelph residents who install water sensors for their homes or businesses.
How the City of Guelph Saves Money via Smart Water Sensor
The city of Guelph installed the Flowie water sensor at the city’s Sleeman Centre and the West End Recreational Centre.
According to Mathew Newman, Water Services technician of the city of Guelph and an expert in investigating high water use issues with homeowners and businesses, when they strapped the Flowie water sensor onto the water meter of the Sleeman Centre, the sensor and data it provided gave the city “a lot of opportunities to show where we can save water and make the systems a bit more efficient”.
Newman similarly found that when they strapped the Flowie water sensor onto the water meter of the West End Recreational Centre, they were able to establish when exactly is the water peak demand, when exactly Zambonis are filled, when swimming pools are filled and when showers are used. By getting a clear diagnostic of what is being used, the city was able “to find ways to improve efficiency”, Newman said.
According to Newman, it’s not the only city government of Guelph that saves money as a result of using smart water sensor, but the city’s residents as well. He said one day, the owners of a local restaurant complained to the city’s Water Services about the sudden increase of the restaurant’s water bill.
When the Flowie water sensor was strapped onto the municipal water meter of the restaurant, the positive impact was almost immediate, Newman said. “It was clear as soon as we strapped it on that water was running constantly 24 /7, all throughout the night and all throughout the day,” he said.
He said that the minute-by-minute water data sent by the Flowie water sensor suggested a major leak. Further investigation by the city’s Water Services revealed a broken valve on the restaurant’s noisy ice machine, which resulted in 24/7 running of water into the ice machine and literally down the drain. When the broken valve on the ice machine was fixed, Newman said that the restaurant saved $630 per month in water costs.
According to Newman, water issues in homes are caused 95% of the time by a malfunctioning toilet or a malfunctioning water softener. “It really only takes one incident like a toilet flapper sticking or a water softener malfunctioning for the Flowie to pay for itself,” he said.
Flowie Sensor Applications
For your home, you can strap the Flowie water sensor onto your municipal water meter, while the companion flood sensor can be placed under or near flood-risk areas, such as hot water toilets, heaters, laundry areas, sinks, dishwashers and garages.
You can install these two conservation devices by yourself in just 2 minutes without the need of technical knowledge or tools. Unlike other smart devices that need to be connected to a wi-fi, these two devices connect to the internet without the need of a wi-fi.
In addition to providing you real-time information about water consumption, leaks and floods, the Flowie sensor also gives you the following real-time information to your computer, tablet or smartphone:
Property power status
Power outage notifications
Power restored notifications
Outdoor / Indoor Temperature
Outdoor / Indoor Humidity
Dropping temp warnings
Freezing pipe alerts
The Flowie sensor doesn’t just give you minute-by-minute status of your water system, power system and heating and cooling system. It also provides you with data analytics – giving you daily and monthly average water consumption, basement temperature versus outdoor temperature and many more. To receive minute-by-minute information from the Flowie sensor, as well as data analytics, you need to install the Alert Labs app on your computer or mobile phone.
The web and mobile dashboards of the Alert Labs app provide you with instant visibility of the different status of a number of sensors placed in different locations or properties. This visibility is ideal if you’re a property manager or a landlord.
Connect with us today to learn more about how to safe money and protect your biggest investment
Have you ever received an unusually high water bill? If you have, you’re not alone.
Complaints of Unusually High Water Bills
The Toronto Office of the Ombudsman (PDF) receives ongoing complaints from residents about excessive water bills. A report from the Toronto Office of the Ombudsman showed that every year, the Toronto Water issues 1.5 million water bills and receives about 300 complaints about high water consumption or billing – typically to 20 times their normal usage. The Toronto Water is responsible for distributing quality drinking water to the whole City of Toronto and portions of the York Region.
The average household (defined by Census Canada as composed of three people) uses about 765 liters of water each day based on the City of Toronto documentation. If your family is consuming more than 765 liters of water each day, something may be wrong with your water system at home. For many homeowners, the discovery of defective water system is only known upon receiving an unusually high water bill.
To monitor your water consumption, the local government of Toronto recommends these two processes:
1. Log onto MyWaterToronto
MyWaterToronto is an online tool offered by the City of Toronto that allows customers to view their water use by day, week, month or year from their mobile device or computer.
2. Observe Your Meter Dial
Your water meter dial has a red triangle that spins whenever you consume water. If this red triangle still spins even if you don’t consume water, then something is wrong with your water system.
What if your whole family is out during the day and only comes home during late in the afternoon or evening? What if some water problem occurs during the day? What if your whole family is out on a week-long vacation? Is it really necessary to interrupt your work or holiday just to check online or physically check your meter dial whether your water consumption level is normal or not?
FLOWIE WATER SENSOR
The Flowie water sensor from Alert Labs monitors your water consumption in real time. It takes just under 2 minutes to install this water sensor and this can be installed by anyone. Simply strap the sensor around your existing municipal water meter.
Even if you’re not at home, this water sensor can tell you what’s going on with your household water situation. Here are 4 ways Flowie smart water sensor saves you money:
1. It requires no local internet or Wi-Fi.
The Flowie water sensor saves you money as it doesn’t need local internet or Wi-Fi. It connects directly to the cellular network, sending you real time alerts about any unusual water activities right to your phone via SMS, email and in-app notifications. This water sensor also allows you to track water consumption and your water savings conveniently from your phone, tablet or computer.
2. It monitors water leaks.
Water leaks drain your savings. Even the very small hole can cost you money. The Flowie water sensor detects water leaks and notifies you in real time when this happens. This real-time notification enables you to remedy the situation like engaging the service of a plumber as soon as possible to stop the water leak, avoiding further damage to the pipes and saving you money.
A hole like this , according to the local government of Toronto, wastes 170 gallons in 24 hours, costing you $2.59 each day or $310.70 in 120 days.
A hole like this wastes 970 gallons in 24 hours, costing you $14.83 each day or
$1,779.49 in 120 days.
A hole like this wastes 3,600 gallons in 24 hours, costing you $54.71 each day or $6,565.14 in 120 days.
Possible sources of leaks include toilets, faucets and sprinkler system.
3. It works with “Floodie” – a flooding sensor.
Floodie is a sensor that detects flooding. It automatically connects to your Flowie water sensor and sends you instant flood alerts to your phone. It’ll also let you know when the flood ends.
This waterproof flood sensor is simply placed in an upright position in places that are most likely to be flooded like in your basement, near sinks, toilets, dishwashers, clothes washers, fridges, water dispensers, water heaters and water softeners.
Flooding can be caused by the sudden and accidental bursting of plumbing pipes and appliances; overland flood which happens when bodies of water like rivers, dams overflow onto dry land; water entering through sudden openings caused by wind or hail and overburden sewers.
Based on the data from Aviva Canada Inc. , nearly 40% of all home insurance claims are the result of water damage. Water damage as a result of flooding isn’t only costly; it’s also unsanitary. For instance, a flood of sewage into your basement is both costly to repair and dangerous to your health.
4. It prevents mould growth.
The Flowie water sensor prevents the costly impact of mould growth. Mould refers to any fungus that grows as a result of water leaks, flooding or high humidity.
“People with mold allergies may have more severe reactions,” the CDC said. “Immune-compromised people and people with chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may get serious infections in their lungs when they are exposed to mold.”
Health Canada (PDF) considers indoor mould growth as a “significant” health hazard. The health department said: “Immediate action is important. Mould will begin to grow within 48 hours. If there is visible mould, it needs to be removed.”
Mould removal is a costly process. Any damp or wet surfaces in your home must be dried within 24 to 48 hours in order to avoid mould growth. Time, therefore, is crucial. Flowie water sensor allows you to take immediate action against mould growth. In addition to water leaks notification, it also gives you reports about basement temperature and humidity.