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.
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.