Benefits of Automatic Water Shut-off Valves: installing water sensors and other modern home water sensing devices is a good idea.
By Ilyce Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin
Q: I just finished your article on water sensors and was disappointed you did not mention whole house water shut-off valves. I recently experienced water damage that required 90 percent of my wood floors to be replaced at an insured cost of about $55,000.
My next move is to have installed a Moen Flo water shut-off (top rated by Consumer Reports) valve along with water sensors. The cost and installation will be around $1,000. And that was what my deductible was on my homeowners insurance policy.
Benefits of Automatic Water Shut-off Valves
A: We’re so sorry that you had that level of water damage. Spending $55,000 on new flooring is a huge amount of money, even if you only paid the $1,000 deductible. On top of that, we’re sure replacing the floors caused extraordinary pain and disruption to your life.
But this is why we think installing water sensors and other modern home water sensing devices is a good idea. We didn’t mention a whole house water shut-off in the column you saw because we wrote about it a few years back. We do like them and we should have linked to the former column. (You can find it here.)
Water Shut-off System and Water Sensors
We installed the Moen Flo water shut-off system and other water sensors around our home. The Moen Flo water shut-off takes care of the home in case there is a broken pipe or other catastrophic leak in the home. The water sensors take care of other water issues that can come up around sump pumps and ejector pump pits, around sinks and water filters, and even around water heaters, whole home humidifiers and air-conditioners.
They’re good products, but they can take awhile to work as advertised. When you install a whole house water shut-off valve, you’ll likely have an adjustment period in which you’ll have to tweak the system. We had around a six month adjustment period. During that time, the system shut off the water to the home for odd reasons. In some instances, the garden sprinklers caused the system to shut the water off. In others, a toilet that wasn’t operating right and kept running also shut the water off. These unexpected shut offs were quite annoying.
There were times we worried whether the water would be on when we woke up in the morning. Over time, the software has gotten better. We were able to adjust the sensitivity of the system. We rarely remember the system is on and working.
System will learn your usage pattern
As you’re installing your system, whichever one you choose, recognize that the software may need to learn your usage patterns. Over time, the system gets to know the water usage for the home, including lawn watering, laundry and dish washing. If you end up using a whole lot of water for something new, know that the system may send you a notification that your water will get turned off in a few minutes. The system will send you emails and even call your cell phone, but if you’re like us and leave your cell phones charging in a room other than where you sleep, you might miss the call and end up with the water shut off.
Water Shut-Off Systems are Worthwhile
Even with these minor annoyances, we still feel that the cost of the system is worthwhile. If you own a vacation home, we think it’s a must-have (along with other remote monitoring software). If you’re not at the vacation property, you should have almost no water usage. And, if you are consuming water, and it isn’t for a humidifier, you may have a leak and should investigate (or send someone to inspect the property, if it isn’t easily accessible). In any event, you can remotely shut off the water to the home and not worry about flooding your vacation home while you’re away.
All of these remote monitoring devices connect to the internet, so if the internet goes down, the system may go down. And, at some point, you might get fed up with monitoring so many disconnected devices and look for something that will provide more complete monitoring of your property.
©2022 by Ilyce Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin.