The issue of water leaks is a subject most homeowners don’t think about until there’s a major issue actually present, like a burst pipe leaking water through the living room ceiling. A larger leak issue like that can cost tens of thousands of dollars to fix, in addition to the major emotional and time investments that naturally tag along. Smaller water leak issues include dripping faucets or shower heads or a running toilet. For things that are relatively easy to fix, these issues can cost the homeowner up to a couple hundred dollars per annum, not to mention the resources wasted. While dripping faucets can be caught be an observant and present homeowner, leaks within the walls may go unnoticed for extended (and expensive) periods of time. The solution is a water leak detector.
Water leak detectors come in a few forms and in wide range of price points. The simplest of detectors can be placed in locations where water may collect and sound an alarm or send an alert to your phone if any water is in fact detected. Amazon is ripe with options, and this type will usually run under $100. Examples include the Honeywell developed Lyric and the Wirecutter recommended iHome iSB02. The drawback with this type of detector is that water must collect before the alarm sounds, so it won’t be able to catch internal pipe leaks.
The smarter, albeit more expensive, option is a water leak detector that attaches to the water main (and in many cases is actually inserted into a section of pipe, requiring professional plumber installation) and monitors water flow, allowing for not only front-end leakage alerts and where they may be coming from but also the ability to shut off the supply remotely. This type can also provide a thorough understanding of water usage patterns. This is much more sophisticated technology and with it comes a heftier price tag (several hundred dollars). The most tempting option here is Phyn. It carries some substantial claims with a lot of R&D funding to back it. Along with monitoring the flow, Phyn performs "high-definition pressure sensing and machine learning to give you a new understanding of your water and detect leaks throughout your plumbing system with unprecedented accuracy.” That’s straight from the product’s website. In the beginning, the product will go through a learning period requiring some feedback from the homeowner. As time goes on and Phyn has more data to use, it learns usage patterns and is better able to detect anomalies and possible leaks. At roughly $850, it is an investment to be sure, but the potential savings are even greater. Other smart options are Leaksmart, Buoy, and Flo.
Photo By Jaeroe21 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=65653765