What’s the best way to monitor a vacation home for water issues?
Canadians love getting outdoors. Summers spent reading a book, relaxing on a deck lakeside at the cottage; winters at the cabin, hitting the slopes then soaking in the hot tub.
Owning a vacation home allows for lots of time to make those great memories. But maintaining a property from another location can be stressful, especially when you’re not there for long stretches of time. Water leaks and floods can quickly cause expensive and, at worse, irreplaceable damage to a house and the belongings in it.
Thankfully, for peace of mind about protecting your vacation property, there is now a wide range of water leak detection systems on the market. The most basic alarm options cost as little as the price of a pizza delivery, with the most advanced options costing upwards of hundreds of dollars.
Water leaks can lead to damage and dangerous environments
Floods can happen in any region in Canada at any time of the year, but they are more likely to happen on coastlines and lakes — picturesque locations for vacation homes. Natural flooding can happen when the weather gets warm quickly, melting snow and ice, or after a hurricane or heavy rainfall.
A flooded basement can damage, or even destroy, furniture, carpets, electronics, family heirlooms, and other belongings. In winter, when water pipes in a house freeze, they expand and then can burst. This can happen in extreme winter weather conditions, but also during prolonged power outages and when the house’s heating system goes down.
Water leaks within the home can happen for many more reasons, including faulty appliances, clogged water lines, loose connectors, broken seals, damaged joints, and corrosion. Even small water leaks can cause significant structural and foundational damage to a house. Leaks result in standing water pooling in spots, which leads to mildew and mould growth and can invite infestations of pests like cockroaches, mice, flies, and mosquitoes.
It may seem counterintuitive with all that water, but flooding can also pose a fire risk if electrical wiring, like light fixtures, gets wet. Water can interact with power outlets and electrical appliances to carry electricity over long distances and electrocute a person.
Water leak detector systems detect and prevent damage
The best way to detect and prevent water damage is to install a water leak detection system. Modern leak detectors can let you know about everything from micro leaks and unusual water flow, to frost and flooding.
The most basic options start at around CAD$15 to $20 for a device that will sound a loud alarm when it detects water. The more advanced water detector systems have multiple moisture sensors and remote access, which are essential for monitoring a vacation home. Some can even detect changes in acoustics, as water leaks create soundwaves, and measure the severity by the frequency of the sound.
Features of a leak detector system to consider
When looking to purchase a water leak detector system for a vacation home, we urge you to consider the device’s features in terms of sensors, alerts and reporting, and automatic shut-off capabilities.
Sensors for high-risk areas
Water leaks don’t happen in one spot, rather there are often many high-risk areas around the house. Leaks can go undetected for a long time, they may not be noticed until there are signs like wall discolouration, strange smells, and sagging ceilings.
When purchasing a water leak detector, look for a system that comes with multiple sensors or has the capability to add more. Some systems can monitor up to 30 sensors around the home, while others only support five or fewer sensors.
Sensors can be put in areas around the house where moisture is an issue. It’s recommended that sensors be put under every sink and heater, as well as near toilets, pipes and appliances like washing machines and dishwashers.
Smarthome integrations and alert notifications
The new generation of water leak detectors often can alert you of leaks and integrate with smart home systems, like Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. Depending on the system, devices can send alerts to the homeowner through a mobile app, text message, email, or phone call. For remote locations without WI-FI connections, there are devices that can use cell phone signals to send a text or voice alert.
Leak detectors can send alerts about drips, high or low water pressure, freezing temperatures, and humidity. They’re incredibly fast, some can send notifications in less than five seconds of detecting moisture. Systems generally also have detailed water usage reports, even showing consumption between different devices, and budgets for future use. This information may be useful in reducing and managing utility costs.
Automatic shut-off systems
It’s great to receive an alert about a water leak, but when you’re far away or the house is in a remote location, it may be hard to get it taken care of quickly.
Water leak detector systems with automatic shut down capabilities are more expensive, yet a worthy investment for vacation homes. These systems have moisture sensors and flow-based leak detection, checking for unusual water flow that triggers a shut down of the valves installed near the main water pipe. These systems can prevent costly repairs as small leaks can be fixed quickly whereas an undetected leak can be disastrous.
Installing water leak detector systems
Basic water leak detectors should be easy to install, but more advanced systems with shut-off capabilities require a valve to be spliced into your water line. Our plumbing technicians can install a leak detection system that you can rely on to protect your property and everything in it. We work with the best materials and technology available to meet your goals. Our personal approach to business means that a real person answers your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Do you have questions about setting up a water leak detection system for your vacation home? How do you monitor for leaks and prevent flooding? We look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.