The Critical Eye!
Water Leak Alarms - Water Is The Big Destroyer
When it comes to major issues involving houses, with the exceptions of the earth moving and tornadoes, the biggest issue is water. As a Utah Home Inspector, I find that percentage wise, water is the biggest destroyer of homes. Whether it is a flood, a rising water table, a leaking water heater, a leaking roof, or a dishwasher that just refuses to contain all the water inside the wash chamber, water causes major damage to wood structures. With the exception of the breaking of the levy type Hurricane Katrina floods, most water damage goes unnoticed until there is major evidence and damage. It is for that reason that I regularly tell my clients about water leak detectors.
Homeowners have come to expect smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms in our houses, but most people are unaware that there are similar types of water leak detectors. Some are designed to be set directly on the floor under dishwashers and sink drains, but most have a detector body that mounts to a wall and then has a sensor attached with wires that gets placed where water would first be noticed.
WATER ALARM PRICES
Some of the water leak detectors are designed to have their sensors installed so that when water raises above a certain level then they will sound, while others are meant to be positioned on the ground so that any water will trigger them off. Most run on 9 volt batteries and some have the option of either a musical alarm or a shrieking smoke detector type alarm.
Since they are priced as inexpensively as $5.99, how can you NOT install one near your water heater, under your kitchen sink, or underneath your dishwasher? The pricing for most models are under $14.99, but then you bump way up in quality to some that include auto phone dialers so that you can be alerted even if you are not at home.
WHERE TO PURCHASE WATER ALARMS
So where can these be purchased? For the last few years I have been sending my clients to our local Harbor Freight stores because they were the only known retail supplier. However, I just did a search at Home Depot’s website and they show at least a dozen models in all price ranges. This is a good sign and I think they are going to become more and more common place.
HOW CAN WATER LEAK DETECTORS HELP?
Imagine that the seals start to wear on your dishwasher and there starts to be a leak that has the water running down the frame and in and behind the lower front kick plate onto the floor. The leak continues on for months until one day you notice that your expensive wood floor is warped outward from the front of the dishwasher about 6”. If you have installed the $5.99 Harbor Freight unit (includes the 9 volt battery), then the moment the first leak started then the alarm would have sounded, long before any damage ever occurred.
Or imagine that you placed one behind the refrigerator and the ice maker hook-up line started to leak. This happened in my home and the leak went on for more than a month without notice. Finally it started to show on the ceiling of the basement room below. Let’s face it, how often do we pull out our refrigerators to ensure that the ice maker connection isn’t leaking. It just doesn’t happen. Installing the Harbor Freight $8.99 Water Overflow Alert alarm on the wall behind the fridge and then running the 6’ wire connected sensor down to the floor and then placing the sensor so that the two brass prongs rested on the floor, then the moment water covered the 1” area between the metal sensors then the alarm would sound off.
Here are some links to see the detectors...
TOP 10 LOCATIONS FOR LEAK ALARMS
Don’t delay investing in the inexpensive water alarms. You should consider installing them:
- Under kitchen sinks
- Under bathroom sinks
- Behind toilets with sensor near the base on the floor closest to the tub/shower.
- On the floor near the water heater
- Underneath the dishwasher
- Behind refrigerators with ice makers
- Behind washing machines
- On the floor near the basement floor drains.
- On the attic ceiling below the swamp cooler water line.
- Corners of the basement where you suspect water entry
And anywhere else you suspect water leak issues.
Make it a great day!
Michael Leavitt - Orem, Utah - www.TheHomeInspector.com - Michael Leavitt & Co Inspections, Inc.
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