Water Alarms and Flood Alerts

Avoiding a break-in is one reason people equip their home with a security system. However, there are many other hazards to be wary of including fire, carbon monoxide and flooding. Knowing how to protect your home from these risks may require adding specific home security equipment in addition to your current system.

Protecting against flooding or leaks requires installing a water sensor or leak detector. A water alarm will notify you of rising water levels inside your home – from a burst pipe in the basement, for example. There are a number of home security equipment options available to help guard against fire, including smoke detectors, fire alarms and heat and smoke sensors.

Different types of water alarms

A water alarm, also called a water sensor or water detector, is an electronic device designed to help prevent water damage. A water sensor can be placed near any appliance that uses water and could potentially leak – washing machines, air conditioning units, water heaters, refrigerators, dehumidifiers and so on. If water seeps out of any of these appliances, the water alarm alerts you to the leak so that you can respond quickly.

A water leak detector operates on the same concept but on a larger scale. It is usually meant for buildings containing a large amount of rare or expensive items, such as museums, art galleries or office buildings filled with computer equipment .

How does a water alarm work?

Water sensors function much like motion detectors – when they detect potentially hazardous levels of water, they trigger an alarm to notify the homeowner and the home security company that provides alarm monitoring. Typically a water alarm is placed on the floor of a basement or the lowest part of a room with the sensor facing down. When water accumulates under the device, contacts on the water sensor signal a wireless transmitter to set off the alarm.

The water sensor is placed face-down because this type of equipment operates using the electrical conductivity of water as a trigger. When water hits the contacts, they sense a change in electrical resistance and activate the alarm.

Be sure to test your water alarm by pouring a small amount of tap water or salt water under the sensor to make sure the flood alert mechanism works properly. Don’t use distilled water – the lack of salt means it won’t conduct enough electricity to trip the sensor.

In addition to flood sensors, a low temperature sensor is another type of device that can be useful in preventing a flood. An alert will notify you when the temperature drops below a certain threshold (usually colder than 40 degrees Fahrenheit) to help you avoid burst pipes caused by freezing water. Having a leak detector or a freeze sensor could prevent costly water damage, something that no homeowner wants to deal with.